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!