Politics, Newt, sex and forgiveness

David Brody over at Christian Broadcasting Network News interviewed Newt Gingrich and got him to open up a bit about his faith. It’s an interesting interview, as Brody interviews tend to be, and you can read the excerpts or watch the video here.

Here’s a portion of the first excerpt:

Gingrich on God’s forgiveness:

Newt Gingrich: There’s no question at times of my life, partially driven by how passionately I felt about this country, that I worked far too hard and things happened in my life that were not appropriate. And what I can tell you is that when I did things that were wrong, I wasn’t trapped in situation ethics, I was doing things that were wrong, and yet, I was doing them. I found that I felt compelled to seek God’s forgiveness. Not God’s understanding, but God’s forgiveness. I do believe in a forgiving God. And I think most people, deep down in their hearts hope there’s a forgiving God.

Well, the Associated Press thought the interview newsworthy enough to inform readers about and chose the headline:

Gingrich: Love of country contributed to affair

Needless to say, this headline spread like wildfire throughout the blogosphere. And it didn’t sit well with Brody.

Here’s his response:

After my interview with Newt Gingrich Monday the clear headline was the fact that Gingrich really opened up and talked extensively about how he sought God’s forgiveness over his marital discretions of the past. Yet the AP comes up with this headline:

Gingrich: Love of country contributed to affair

You’re kidding right? Oy-gevalt.

First of all, I was in the room. Gingrich was talking about how his love of country contributed to his hard-charging work ethic. That ultimately led him down a path that was not conducive to a happy family life. But to make the link from “love of country” to the “affairs” is extremely misleading. Furthermore, that isn’t even the headline to the story. How about “Gingrich Owns Up to Past Infidelity?” I have a few more but I have no desire to be an AP headline writer. Then again maybe I should.

I do notice that the Associated Press has modified the headline to say “Gingrich: Work for nation factor in indiscretions.”

Brody says the botched headline is indicative of mainstream media bias. I’m not sure about that, but it definitely shows some problems with our ability to discuss what leads to marital infidelity. It’s not exactly breaking news that spending more time working and less time with your wife is a recipe for marriage disaster. Is the length of the Congressional year a moral issue? How many politicians’ marriages fall apart because of distance initially brought on by their political passion?

Or maybe the headline indicates, pace Brody, that journalists remain uncomfortable when it comes to writing about the forgiveness of sins rather than just the sins, period.

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  • http://www.tmatt.net tmatt

    Journalism comments, folks. Don’t just write in to zap Newt.

  • Dave

    There might be a trace of snark in the original AP headline.

  • Jerry

    Or maybe the headline indicates, pace Brody, that journalists…

    I realize that editors are also journalists, at least by the common definition, but I think it’s useful here to disambiguate headline writers from reporters.

  • Dan Crawford

    OK, so the headline didn’t quote the Newt accurately, but I guess I’m not sure from what the former Speaker said and Brody’s explanation just how inaccurate the headline was. Newt does seem to be saying that the drive to succeed politically took him away from his responsibilities to his wife and family. I guess that’s excusable in Republicans – considering that they love their country more than life itself.

  • Home on the Range

    @ Dave – more than a trace I’d say! :D

  • Bern

    First AP Headline snarky? Yeah.
    Second Headline? Better.
    Brody’s protestations to the contrary what Mr. Gingrich’s words–I read the snippets, I didn’t watch the video–left him wide open to Headline #1. What Newt says indicates a certain discomfort on his part with the need to be forgiven. “Not appropriate” is how I characterize my 9 year old’s actions to him when he’s misbehaving. It doesn’t begin to cover Mr. Newt’s sins.