As NewsBusters reported, Republican presidential candidate Newt Gingrich severely scolded CNN’s John King for beginning Thursday’s debate in South Carolina with a question about allegations made by his ex-wife earlier in the day.
After the debate ended, CNN contributor David Gergen said, “This is one of the most explosive moments we’ve seen in debate history. It was also one of the harshest attacks we’ve had on the press that I can remember in a long, long time…I think that there’s a reasonable chance after talking to people here tonight that he could win South Carolina based on that answer” (video follows with transcribed highlights and commentary):
CNN’s Anderson Cooper agreed, “I’ve heard a lot of people online saying that tonight who have been live-blogging it.”
Then Gergen felt the need to show support for King.
“As a journalistic matter," he said, "John had a duty to ask that question. It was the elephant in the room. After all, his wife [sic] is accusing him of hypocrisy, being a man of family values who had this private life that was in conflict with what he was preaching, and the man who went after Bill Clinton on a similar set of issues.”
Gergen continued, “So, it was the elephant in the room, and John King is known by most of the people here as one of the fairest people in the country. I think he did the right thing, I think he asked the right question. We had the explosion, we move on.”
With all due respect to Mr. Gergen, Gingrich had been rising in the South Carolina polls the past few days. If he were to win Saturday's primary, it would be a stretch to say that this one moment in the debate, no matter how huge it was, acted as the catalyst.
On the other hand, it certainly couldn't hurt especially as Mitt Romney didn't have a spectacular debate.
As for King asking "the right question," would Gergen or anyone in the media have felt that way if a debate in 1992 began with the moderator questioning Arkansas Governor Bill Clinton about his infidelities?
As Gergen ended up working in the Clinton administration, the answer seems extremely obvious.
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