John King Did the Right Thing

As you probably know, CNN debate moderator John King got slammed by Newt Gingrich who said he was appalled by King’s first question in last week’s CNN debate.  The story had been breaking all day that Gingrich’s second wife was alleging that Gingrich had asked for an open marriage so he could continue to carry on with the woman who is now his third wife.  King asked him about it.  Here’s the exchange:

The topic was the elephant in the room (besides all those Republicans!) and I would have been appalled had King NOT asked that question at the beginning.  It would have seemed like he was completely out of touch had King asked about anything else — it would have almost been a dereliction of King’s duty to have done anything else.

But why not ask it later?  It was the question many, if not most, people were waiting for.  And how much attention would have been paid to anything that came beforehand?  Either way, Gingrich knew the question was going to be asked, knew it would probably be the first question and fashioned an answer that was very effective in front of that particular audience.

Having said that, I might have prefaced the question as follows:  “In the past, you have made it clear that a president’s conduct in private life is relevant to his fitness to serve.  As you know your ex-wife has alleged, etc.” I don’t know that it would have made any difference and Newt would have probably ripped into me in a different way because he — like all effective politicians — has mastered the art of answering the question he wants to answer!

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  • Karen Ernst

    Phil, really? C’mon, do you think he would have asked the same question of Mr. Obama if he had a similar situation?? I highly doubt it. I consider myself a moderate and have voted on all sides of the aisle. Right now, this is NO ONE that I will consider voting for in the next election. America has become rather pathetic.

  • Tim

    One thing is certain: the question will be framed and reframed differently from now on. Not that it embarrassed John King in the short term or long term…He’s a professional who should have known better what Newt would have said. Baiting is not cool if one can avoid it, and I agree it was possible to avoid it…but the journalism courses and debate courses will have to be updated with this case study!

  • Daniel Cotter

    To the first poster’s question, absolutely. How quickly this country forgets that Newt was one of the leaders in the Clinton impeachment, along with Henry Hyde. If there was a whiff of President Obama having such personal business, we would be hearing about it.
    Newt learned well from Nixon, when caught in the crosshairs, whip out racism, liberal media, etc in the deep south.

  • Cyrus

    I agree with Daniel, and I agree with Phil’s preface. If you run as a values candidate, not only are you opening yourself up to questions like that, you’re begging for them.

  • Chef Luciano

    Being a President is serious business. Personal life stories and personal income should not be issue.
    I don’t want a President to impose morallty or religion on me. Lead me, Lead the country for the betterment of all AMERICANS.