Newt Gingrich, still hanging on in the race for the GOP nomination despite virtually no chance of success, agreed to sit for an interview with a student journalist on Saturday.
Memet Walker, a writer for the University of North Carolina’s The Daily Tarheel, spoke to Gingrich briefly, very briefly. And then Gingrich got mad and walked out, after two questions. His campaign appears to be quickly moving into farce territory.
According to an article by Justin Sink in The Hill:
Last week, Gingrich said at a private meeting in Delaware that he thinks “Fox has been for Romney all the way through” and that he believes “CNN is less biased than Fox this year.” That prompted Fox News head Roger Ailes — at an event also on the University of North Carolina’s campus — to respond, saying Gingrich was “trying to get a job at CNN because he knows he isn’t going to get to come back to Fox News.”
But when Walker asked Gingrich about the event, the candidate quickly shut down the interview. According to Walker, the assistant to Gingrich told him, “You’re not asking that. You’re done.”
The candidate apparently set no preconditions for the interview and didn’t indicate that any topics were off limit.
It is, of course, the privilege of anyone to cut off an interview with a journalist at any time he pleases. Gingrich criticizes the media often and has previously characterized journalists’ questions as “irrelevant and unfair.” And many questions journalists routinely ask politicians are irrelevant and unfair.
There are a whole variety of potential Gingrich questions the candidate could dismiss as unfair to the campaign. Questions about his marriages, for instance. He could perhaps even appropriately dismiss questions about his brief academic tenure.
But Gingrich was listed as a contributor to the Fox News Channel. He hosted specials on Fox News. He was often a guest on various shows on the channel. So the fact that he’s now decided Fox News is biased is something probably worth asking about. The question seems entirely appropriate.
For the last several months Gingrich has argued that he would made a better presidential candidate for the Republican Party than Mitt Romney because of his skill as a debater. “I can go toe to toe with President Obama on big things,” Gingrich said in January.
In this latest incident, however, Gingrich demonstrated that he was unwilling (or unable) to even have a serious discussion about media bias with a student journalist. The reports of his rhetorical ability might be somewhat exaggerated.
Here’s Walker’s write-up of the incident.