Marianne Gingrich interview: Is it ethical for ABC to air it now?
Questions are already arising about whether ABC's 'Nightline' is justified in airing its 'bombshell' interview with Marianne Gingrich, an ex-wife of Newt Gingrich.
As the Newt Gingrich campaign confronts uncomfortable revelations from the candidate's second wife, Marianne Gingrich, that he asked her for “an open marriage” – charges that will air Thursday night on ABC’s "Nightline" – questions are also surfacing about about the network’s motivations for broadcasting it now.Skip to next paragraph
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Does ABC have it in for Mr. Gingrich? Is the show timed to hurt his prospects, which have been rising, in Saturday's South Carolina primary? Why dredge up now something that happened 10 years ago?
The full interview won’t run until after the CNN-sponsored GOP presidential debate Thursday evening, but clips of it have gone viral on the Internet, and reporter Brian Ross appeared on ABC’s “The View” to discuss the potential effect of Mrs. Gingrich's interview. “She spoke in measured tones,” he said, attempting to play down what co-host Elisabeth Hasselbeck introduced as “bombshell” allegations." He also noted that the final impact is “for the voters to decide.”
Defending the network’s decision to broadcast the interview two days before the South Carolina primary, Mr. Ross noted that ABC has been scrutinizing all the candidates, pointing to its reports Wednesday night on Mitt Romney’s possible tax evasions. Beyond that, he said the interview took place on Friday. ABC News spokesman Jeffrey Schneider says "Nightline" “reached out to the Gingrich campaign” for a response. The candidate has declined to comment on the allegation.
“This is one of the toughest decisions news executives and producers face,” says former ABC News producer John Goodman, via e-mail. “You have a story that can impact a political campaign. Do you go with it, or sit on it?” he says. “The journalist in you says you have to air it. But you clearly understand that by doing so, you create a PR nightmare.”
The fact that most of Mrs. Gingrich's comments are “old news,” and that the South Carolina primary is days away, feeds the “suspicion by the average American that ABC has a liberal bias and can’t wait to air the story to destroy Gingrich’s presidential hopes,” Mr. Goodman says. In obtaining the interview, he adds, ABC must ask itself this question: Does she have a vendetta to destroy her ex-husband? “There’s no clean-cut, no-brainer, right-or-wrong answer,” he says. "You just have to do what you feel is the right decision.”