November 18th, 2011

The sages at TNR chime in: again with the “Newt served his wife with divorce papers when she was in the hospital with cancer” yada-yada-yada

Surely there’s enough truth with which to attack Gingrich without resorting to lies. But apparently not, just as I predicted (don’t mean to blow my own horn, but…). First on TNR’s list of terrible things Gingrich has done and said is the following [interpolations mine]:

Gingrich divorced his first wife for Marianne Ginther, whom he began courting while he was still married [true]. He informed his first wife of his plans while she was in the hospital receiving treatment for cancer [false].

There’s no question that Gingrich, who has been married a whopping three times, was unfaithful during his marriages and then married his paramours and made each his next wife. That’s certainly behavior that can be attacked and criticized (although those who defended Ted Kennedy’s and Bill Clinton’s affairs might be subject to a charge of hypocrisy for doing so). But the other story makes for a much more juicy tale in these days when ordinary unfaithfulness has become rather ho-hum.

So, this is our choice: is TNR ignorant of the real story? Or is it fully cognizant of the truth and ignoring it for its own purposes, trusting that its readers will not know the difference and that the lie will achieve its purpose?

It almost doesn’t matter which the answer is; this is not responsible journalism either way. But, as I’ve said before under similar circumstances, don’t sit on a hot stove for them to issue a correction.

Speaking of corrections (and in case you haven’t followed the explanatory link), here’s an excerpt from the article by Gingrich’s daughter, who certainly ought to know what happened:

And as long as I can remember, media coverage about [my father] has contained misstatements of facts. The vast majority are simple mistakes that are easily corrected, understood and rewoven into an ongoing storyline.

But one of them seems to have taken on a life of its own, and simple corrections have not sufficed to set the record straight. Why does this happen? I can’t be sure, but I suspect that the narrative created by these untruths proves to be so much more compelling and more dramatic than what actually happened that it proves irresistible.

I’m talking about the story of my father’s visit to my mother while she was in the hospital in 1980.

…[H]ere’s what happened:

My mother and father were already in the process of getting a divorce, which she requested.

Dad took my sister and me to the hospital to see our mother.

She had undergone surgery the day before to remove a tumor.

The tumor was benign.

Ah, says the left, but Gingrich’s wife says otherwise!

Actually, she doesn’t. For the most part, the two accounts agree on the major facts. Here is Gingrich’s wife’s statement, based on a 1985 WaPo interview:

He walked out in the spring of 1980 and I returned to Georgia. By September, I went into the hospital for my third surgery. The two girls came to see me, and said Daddy is downstairs and could he come up? When he got there, he wanted to discuss the terms of the divorce while I was recovering from the surgery … To say I gave up a lot for the marriage is the understatement of the year.

So the divorce was already in the works before the surgery: check. Gingrich brought the girls to see their mother: check. Nowhere is cancer mentioned.

Gingrich’s daughter doesn’t say whether the terms of an already-in-the-works divorce were discussed that day. But the main (and seemingly only) point of disagreement between Gingrich and his first wife on what happened is that he denies he wanted to discuss the terms of the divorce during the visit, but concedes they did have an argument. Not all that surprising, if you know anything about divorcing couples.

I’ve also seen reports that Gingrich’s wife had already had some form of cancer prior to this surgery, and had recovered. But I can’t find any credible source on this—although at this point, I must say that I’m not sure what a credible source on the subject would be, since so many media outlets have proven themselves willing to lie or to show callous disregard for the truth.

Oh, and as for the TNR article that started this whole rumination? Once you get past terrible thing #1 and on to the other fourteen they list, you’ll find that many of them contain valid bad marks against Newt (no angel, he). But some of them will make you scratch your head and wonder what’s so terrible about them—except for the fact that they speak some un-PC truths, especially about the left and its agenda.

15 Responses to “The sages at TNR chime in: again with the “Newt served his wife with divorce papers when she was in the hospital with cancer” yada-yada-yada”

  1. nyght Says:

    Hey Neo,

    While on the subject of Newt and his imperfections, I just wanted to go back to the post you had yesterday about him and Romney. This is sort of off topic, sort of on topic, but I did want to put it out there (I think you will know some of this, but maybe not).

    This gets into my point yesterday about Newt being the devil we know. We should all know he’s far from perfect, and there are definitely some valid complaints in the TNR article (I don’t like the Freddy Mac connection at all…). But anyone who knows Newt or has followed knows most of these, and some of the stuff on their list I am in agreement with. Anywho, to go back to the Romney thing, here are a few examples of things that will come out if he wins the nomination, and I think a lot of them will stick. Romney never struck me as being graceful when on the defensive, and this stuff, along with Romneycare would probably put him on the defensive:

    See here, here, and here for examples. I know they’re related to each other, but this is a taste of the sort of thing the Dems have in their vault and are just waiting to unload on Romney as soon as he secures the nomination.

    Anyway, I don’t want to be combative or anything with this. I love your blog and have lots of respect for you, even if I tend to silently observe instead of actively comment, I’ve been coming here almost every day for several years now, and just wanted to say thanks for all you do! :-)

    But I DO think you’re wrong on Romney’s electability! ;-)

  2. neo-neocon Says:

    nyght: no need to be shy; I’m always (at least, usually) happy to see someone come out of the lurker closet. Join right in!

    That doesn’t mean I agree with you, of course. I think that although many conservatives forgive Newt his considerable flaws, the general public has no reason to, and have distinct memories of him that are distasteful. Plus, he’s probably the least likable serious candidate for president since Nixon. Of course, Nixon won after everyone said he was washed up, and of course that could happen with Newt. But I just don’t think so.

    As far as all that Bain stuff you linked to goes, I’ve seen it before. Of course, that doesn’t mean it’s generally well known, and it certainly could get more airing. But the same is true of some of Newt’s baggage (the Fannie-Freddie thing is new, for example, and would be good for a lot of flak).

    As for Romney getting ungraceful on the defensive—couldn’t the same be said for Newt?

  3. Occam's Beard Says:

    He informed his first wife of his plans while she was in the hospital receiving treatment for cancer.

    Maybe Gingrich shouldn’t have gone to the hospital, but rather nailed his videographer on the QT, maybe had a kid with her or something. He could always deny it, unless and until the National Enquirer caught him dead to rights.

  4. Curtis Says:

    Yes, its time for the liberal media to do what it does best, what is it’s nature to do, and indeed, what it loves to do. Because, as they say, it’s a blessing when you love your work.

    And Newt knows its coming and has declared he will take on all comers. Let’s hope he shows the same winning ability as Tim Tebow, a man who knows a thing or two about the righteous indignation of our elite classes.

    Or perhaps we should think more of Michael Vick who knew from first hand experience that some dogs don’t fight, but proven fighters, even if scarred and injured, will do what they do: fight. That’s Newt and I say give em the boot, Newt! The jackboot, the cowboy boot, the steel-toed boot, the boot only those who have worn them can give, and by gar, Newt’s worn them. Newt’s a bit of a mutt, but then mutts are street smart and survivors and winners. Like many Denver fans are exclaiming, “by gar, I’m a liken that thar Tebow gin my bare ju-ment.”

    But it’ll only stay that way if he keeps winning.

  5. J.J. formerly Jimmy J. Says:

    The problem with Romney’s involvement with Bain is that damn few of the independents would know anything about how venture capital firms work. Thus, it would be very easy to convince them that Mitt, nice as he looks, is really wolf in sheep’s clothing.

    We have a two visions of Mitt. In one (held by conservatives who don’t cotton to him) he is a centerless, meek person who has no core principles. The other is one of a ravenous exploiter of the masses through the eeevils of capitalism. Maybe he is both……or neither. That’s why we have these campaigns, to try to get to the truth of it.

    I agree that Newt is somewhat like Nixon. Not a person that voters, particularly independents, can warm up to. His task is to show a warmer, fuzzier, more humble persona while parading his dazzling knowledge of the issues.

    I hope neither Newt nor Mitt try to use the dark sides techniques of character assassination in the primary campaign. Compete on ideas and ability to explain those ideas to the voters. The character assassination will come soon enough to whoever becomes the Republican nominee. No need to do the dems work for them.

  6. Curtis Says:

    A notable article by Medved articulating the reason why Romney is so hated, seemingly, so suddenly.

    http://townhall.com/columnists/michaelmedved/2011/11/16/the_wrong_guy_for_the_age_of_anger/page/2

    Makes sense, but I went at it from the other side. Why is it that we are liking whom we are liking?

    I like them who are vicariously fulfilling my anger. I think it’s time to at least acknowledge that. We’re mad, we’re whipping mad. Tired of being defamed and tired, above all, of losing.

  7. Oldflyer Says:

    I posted somewhere, and I forget whether it was here, that I was deeply involved with company that was heavily funded by Bain. When Bain finally pulled out, we thought they were the villains. Later I realized that Bain behaved rationally, and no doubt as required by their fiduciary responsibility when dealing with a failing company. Bain had investors to whom that their management was responsible. People dig deep for dirt.

    The story about Bain is similar to the stories about Newt’s divorce(s). Once a distorted story, or outright lie, is planted it becomes a many headed monster that is nearly impossible to counter.

    BTW, one of my brothers-in-law is on his third marriage. My sister is on her 4th. (Not married to each other) They have one trait in common, poor judgment in the choice of mates. That simple. Other than that they are both very good people.
    No one, certainly no one at a distance, ever knows what goes on inside of a marriage. Absent abuse, I think it is ridiculous to characterize a person because of their marital history.

  8. J.J. formerly Jimmy J. Says:

    Curtis said, “We’re mad, we’re whipping mad. Tired of being defamed and tired, above all, of losing.”

    I agree. We would like to see a candidate that is as outraged about what has been happening under Obama as we are. Ron Paul gives voice to some of that and I think that’s why so many people support him. Occasionally we see it when Newt slaps a debate moderator around. We don’t see it in Romney and that is, IMO, much of the turn off. The question is, can an angry conservative get votes in the middle? It is perplexing.

  9. Promethea Says:

    Ever since I read Ann Coulter’s “Demonic,” I’ve been totally inoculated against political/personal smears against candidates.

    Because I live in the Banana Republic of Chicago, my primary vote won’t count for much. However, I’ll do what I can to bring down the commie/fascist/ transnational progressives/elitists who want to destroy our City on a Hill American republic.

    End of story.

  10. Alex Bensky Says:

    I had subscribed to The New Republic for decades; only The Sporting News had held me longer. Thanks, Neo, for reminding me why I let my TNR subscription lapse a couple of years ago.

    I let The Sporting News go a long time past, but for different reasons.

  11. Occam's Beard Says:

    Late entry. Insty links to a piece in WaPo debunking the Newt divorce meme. WaPo, for God’s sake, correcting cherished leftist propaganda! Judgment Day must be nigh.

  12. Gary Rosen Says:

    “WaPo, for God’s sake, correcting cherished leftist propaganda!”

    After the smear has been out there over a decade? I’m not impressed. It reminds me of 2008, when three days *after* the election they ran a piece from their “ombudsman” saying, “you know, it looks like our election coverage was completely slanted towards Obama”.

  13. Occam's Beard Says:

    Agreed. In fact, their coming out with this now may imply that they think Newt is done, and so there’s no harm in lifting the leftist curse on him.

  14. foxmarks Says:

    Human nature and our non-deliberative culture conspire against learning the truth. The common folk—and even professional political analysts—rarely take the time to look deeper than the echoes of events.

    If journalism was more reporting and less storytelling, Joe Sixpack would hear that Newt did not serve his wife on her deathbed. Joe Sixpack would know that Bush 43 was a voracious reader of substantial books. Joe would know that Sarah Palin never said she could see Russia from her house. He would know that Herman Cain very likely plotted trajectories for our missiles to hit Chinese nukes in the late 1960s.

    We comfortably accept the superficial criticisms of those we are inclined against already. Confirmation bias is an enemy of integrity.

  15. Occam's Beard Says:

    Semi-OT: just finished Reckless Endangerment. Anyone reading that and still voting Democrat should be shot.

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Previously a lifelong Democrat, born in New York and living in New England, surrounded by liberals on all sides, I've found myself slowly but surely leaving the fold and becoming that dread thing: a neocon.
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