Elizabeth Scalia gets it

The roar of approval for Gingrich’s smackdown of the press last night was not so much about Gingrich’s disgusting and chutzpah-filled defense of his vile behavior as it was a volcanic eruption of contempt for a media richly deserving of that contempt. It is notable that this contemptible media engages in not one scintilla of reflection about that in the wake of that.

Really Gingrich and the media are (like Gingrich and Freddie Mac) deeply incestuous (but then, we know how Gingrich feels about the need for his lovers to share him. There’s just too much awesomeness crackling in that Teacher of Civilization to be confined by bourgeois mores). As one of my readers says:

Newt and the other Republican candidates exist strongly in the public mind as a mere consequence of the media. If they did not get such free air on the new stations, the race would be over.

The media actually has given the Tea Party and its varied inadequate candidates a hearing they wouldn’t have gotten in 1975. Why? Withhout a fight, without conflict, the media would have no audience. So they created a primary battle, which, if left to its own resources without media he,lp would have had Paul, Romney and Santorum win in Iowa, with Santorum going nowhere after, since his organization didn’t exist elsewhere. The media functions like Don King. Don King builds up his next big fight with some inadequate challenger in order to build an audience for his pay-per-view event. The media has done that for candidates that don’t have the organizational strength to show up in New Hampshire (Bachman and Perry) and the organizational strength to show up on the Virginia ballot (Perry and Gingrich). No way should these candidates be held in any esteem. They are media creations. Newt’s candidacy will die once he has to focus his campaign on more than one location.

The “blame the media” piece is for entertainment to saturate the serotonin receptors of talk radio conservatives who love this type of trash talk. Its part of the circus act. It was a predictable response because Gingrich knows from lots of focus group testing that such a response spurs on positive responses from a certain type of voter. He is playing those voters with reponses he has discovered promote certain types of feeling. As such, he treats the conservative voter like a herd beast, controlled by a stimulus-response mechanism that would make Pavlov proud.

Newt loves the media. It is his favorite mistress. He is only acting.

The media exists to sell beer and shampoo–and to maintain the worldview that their corporate owners wish to be maintained. We are suckers for trusting them, and for trusting Newt, Obama, or almost any other member of our Ruling Class.

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  • Peggy R

    I fully agree. The crowd was thrilled by the comeuppance that King got from Gingrich. But this is no reason for the public to vote for Newt Gingrich and does not negate his own flaws. This was not mud slinging of untrue matters.

  • Leticia Adams

    My husband was not always a man of God. He was the typical man with a high stress level job, bad friends, a wife who he didn’t get along with, and many many other things. It is my husband’s story so I won’t go into details but the thing is that he didn’t STAY that way. We moved into together four years ago had 7 kids between us. 4 of them not even Baptized, and 3 Baptized but nothing else and they were all over due on Sacraments. We didn’t go to Mass at ALL and still called ourselves Catholics. Even being shacked up and have 7 kids not being taught the Faith. 2 Years ago, by the Grace of God I began RCIA. Why? Because I wanted my boyfriend at the time, who had moved out and left to Afghanistan to marry me. I knew that if I wanted that I would have to get my Sacraments. Not because it is what the Church says out of Love for Her children, but because “it’s what you do”. I didn’t want to take RCIA, I didn’t want to submit to the Church’s teachings. None of them. I grew up knowing all the “rules” and I was not going to be a idol worshiping pope lover. But I’d play along and get my Sacraments and then I would win and get married to the man I felt I had a right to marry.

    Well God had other plans. I experienced God’s love for the first time in my life like you could not (or hopefully you can) imagine. It was beyond anything I was prepared for, and my whole life changed. My now husband however, was not so excited about my new found faith. He didn’t want to be “that” Catholic. He thought I was going overboard and really getting out of hand. Fast forward to Lent of 2010 (There is so much more to the story but I won’t bore you with DWI’s, Mom’s passing away, and break up’s and get back together’s, just know a lot more happened.) We went to Rome for Spring Break. It was supposed to be our vacation, little did we know what God had planned for us. We were so lost and clueless about our faith that we planned on eloping, in Rome, during Lent, as Baptized Catholics……. (Can you say clueless?)

    One day we were touring around and we came upon the Holy Staircase, and that is when my husband and God met. The man that was his ex wife’s husband, the man that didn’t want to be “that” Catholic, the man who thought Religion was overrated, the man who did all the despicable things that you talk about Newt doing, stayed at the bottom of that staircase. When we got to the top a new man met me there. A good man, a loving man, a respectful man, a man who fights and defends his family, a man who no longer wanted to use me as a toy, but love me as a wife. He has gone through hell and fire to work on himself, he has prayed, cried, gone to confession AND apologized to his ex wife for all the pain and misery he caused. He has become a man of God and I could not be prouder to call him my husband. But guess what his ex wife sees? She still sees the man who hurt her. She does not see my husband. She sees who he used to be, and she will never ever give him credit for bettering himself. I don’t really blame her, he did a lot of damage to her, but the fact is that God can heal and fix anyone. Yesterday you posted a blog post called “Confession of the Recovering Lesbian” and gave it such high praise. Why do you then turn around and keep talking such trash about Newt? Even if you don’t like him, why such ugliness? Isn’t it possible that he is a recovering asshole? Aren’t we all recovering somethings? Or is it just people you like that deserve the benefit of the doubt that God really is healing them?

    I like you Mr. Shea, you say a lot of things that I agree with, and i don’t disagree with you not supporting Newt for president. I’ve read all your posts about how to vote with a clear conscience and I fully believe that you are doing that. But what I don’t like and agree with is the ugliness when talking about a fellow Catholic. Whether or not he’s *really* Catholic is not for me to judge. That is for God to judge. He is not the only man who has screwed up and then found his way back Home. I know, I live with a man who did all those things and then some and I know that he wakes up every day sorry for his actions, and working to be better.

    And on Easter 2010 me and my 4 Children came into the Church, In October my husband and I were married, in November he was confirmed and the following May (2011) his boys were fully initiated in the Holy Catholic Church. God does makes things right, even for the most messed up people in the world. Trust me when I tell you that, because my husband couldn’t have been any more lost if we had tried, and now we are Home.

    • Mark Shea


      I am delighted at your story and want to congratulate and welcome you! What joyous news!

      As to Newt: I have no problem with the idea that he is a recovering asshole. Ain’t we all. My problem is not with his pre-baptismal behavior, but with his his post-baptismal actions in making excuses for it, as well as with other lying, disgusting and despicable acts both professionally and personally–all done since his entry into the Church. They concern me as a citizen and as a Catholic. As a citizen because they persuade me that it is crazy and dangerous to vote for this duplicitous man. As a Catholic because he both places his own soul in jeopardy by claiming that proximity to power was what caused him to commit adultery–and that we therefore need to give him ultimate power; and because his scandalous positions of dissent on pre-emptive war and torture, and his abortive attempt to create a rationale for ESCR and abortifacients by declaring life to begin at implantation shows that he is just as untrustworthy as ever. That’s not judgmental. That’s prudent assessment of fruit and responsible citizenship. I think reader Daniel Conway puts it best:

      Then proper posture of such repentant public individual is contrition. Not groveling obesquiousness, but contrition. Then, of course, his public sermonizing needs to represent a sense of generous forgiveness. He needs to exude a sense of gratitude for grace and opportunity praying for others to have such. He needs to understand how his social privileges shielded him from many of the consequences of such adultery-for example bankrupcy, alienation from his children since he couldn’t support those children and his two other families. He needs to be grateful that his porfessional connections keep him well-employed and the personal psychological consequences of such stress didn’t result in unemployment, a routine problem in the common man’s experience in this matter.

      He does none of this. He is not the public penitent members of the Church should look up to.

      I recommend Mark Wahlberg and his recent interviews as an inspiration and a model as to what should be expected of Newt Gingrich.

      His transparent play to the evangelical and conservative Catholics with his pretentious sermonizing, the tone of which hasn’t changed a whit since his days of adultery, is annoying.

      • bob

        I don’t care for the president. But if it’s him or our boy Newt he’ll get my vote. It’s harder to vote for someone if you can’t imagine sitting in the same room with him or wanting your family anywhere near him. Newt fails.

  • Harry

    I don’t particularly like Newt as a candidate, but his performance was really a thing of beauty- he went two minutes without even addressing the accusation and no one cared. Heck, I think he might have even avoided it entirely and still gotten a standing ovation.

    • Mark Shea

      The man has unparallelled skills as a demagogue. It was a speech worthy of Marc Antony the way he got a crowd of good Christian folk who used to understand that Clinton was a skank and a disgrace to his office to erupt with cheers for his double betrayals and piggery. If those fools vote for this guy, they deserve every kick in the teeth he gives them.

      • Spastic Hedgehog

        This is what appalls me about the whole thing. 14 years ago Republicans were rightly concerned about a President who couldn’t control his, um, “passions” and then committed perjury to cover them up while the entire time Democrats said “Well his daliances have nothing to do with his ability to lead. Why are you all obsessed with who he sleeps with?”

        Fast forward and now who is saying: “Well his marriage issues don’t really have anything to do with his ability to lead. I like his plan on taxes/foreign policy/abortion/federalism. Why is the liberal media obsessed with who he sleeps with?”

  • Dan C

    It wasn’t extemporaneous. It was practiced. And the questioner knew the flavor of the response before he asked it. He knew, based on audience responses in the past. The questioner is also an actor playing the role of villain, and relishing it.

    That has resulted in now views and hits and comments than if he had asked some droning policy question.

    This was choreographed.

    • Peggy R

      This is correct. Several NRO writers are acknowledging this with disgust. Apparently, Newt was palsy w/King off-stage afterward.

      • Dan C

        I think one’s perception of the audience response (which functions like a mob) is a bit of a Rorschach test of what one projects onto that display. In bulk, despite individuals who may have had certain responses, the audience response was primitive and predicted. Mob responses like that are in bulk “supportive” or “enthusiastic” about a speaker. I would suggest avoiding reading too many complexities into the mob at that point. Just a big “whoopee!” for Newt.

  • It seems to me that although the news media is deplorable in its bias, that Scalia’s proposed remedy, that of seeking out alternate media sources for one’s information, has not actually corrected the problem, but has both exacerbated it and fed into the worst impulses of the American psyche.

    For a decade now, people have been consuming information custom-tailored to reinforce their own preconceived ideas. The fruit of this change in information gathering has been the fragmentation of the conservative electorate, the rebellion of congregations against their shepherds (as in the cases surrounding Corapi, Voris, Pavone, et al.) and the rise of a brutal, totalitarian, hegemonic state that has no united populace to check it.

    What’s especially laughable is that the recent “Jesus vs Religion” excrescence is also a product of the malignant individualism that Scalia seems to be encouraging. Individuals who believe the proposition “I, and I alone, am the final arbiter of truth,” may indeed have no need of duplicitous news outlets such as ABC, CNN or FOX. Of course, neither do those same individuals have any need for the bishops, the pope or the Mystical Body of Christ. 

  • victor simon

    “. . . we know how Gingrich feels about the need for his lovers to share him. There’s just too much awesomeness crackling in that Teacher of Civilization to be confined by bourgeois mores.”

    Thus, in the sentence following your indictment of the media as richly deserving in contempt, do you show himself to be one of them.

    So not only did he do it, he’s still doing it. He’s still sharing lovers, or at least trying to. He’s still writing moral laws for himself that pertain more to his superior station.

    Mark, believe me, I understand your contempt for this guy, and I share it. But you have got to control yourself. There is simply no need to write such sewage.

    • Sharon

      I have to agree with Victor. Mark, isn’t Gingrich married in the Church? If his current marriage is good enough for the Church, then I think you have to drop the constant attacks on his previous failings. And this opinion is coming from someone who is not a big fan of annulments for a number of reasons, and from someone who is a “first wife” – a first wife who appreciates Letitia Adams’ story but can’t help reading it and thinking, gee, why didn’t God do that for the first wife instead? It would have saved so much suffering for the children of that first marriage! But God apparently did not choose to work that way, and while I am tempted to judge Newt and other ex-husbands, I have a healthy fear of judging God. I also have to stay away from judging Church decisions on particular annulments (“what you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and what you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven” no matter what I think of it), so again, if Newt’s current marriage is good enough for the Church, the rest of us have to accept it as good enough. I think the torture and ridiculous equivocating on when life begins are big enough issues with Newt, so why not just stick with issues like those?

      • Mark Shea

        My issues are not with what Gingrich did before baptism, but what he has done since baptism. I have no problem with him approaching the altar if his bishop doesn’t. But he has given me no reason to think him trustworthy or worthy of my vote. On the contrary, he has demonstrated immense hubris and egoism, not to mention his old duplicity and instability. Baptism is grace, not magic.

        • Thomas R

          You can be totally against the guy’s politics or even just dislike him. I think the concern is that you tend to believe just about every allegation about his personal life regardless of any evidence.

          It’s easy to think that when you see a guy on TV that “you know him”, but the fact of the matter is you don’t know him. And neither do I. Maybe he’s at the equivalent of a “key party” as we speak or maybe he never wanted an open marriage at all and is more sexually decent than we’d suppose. We just don’t know. Your wording, at least, implies you do or think you do. Which is uncharitable at best, infantile or grandiose at worst.

          • Ted Seeber

            I think if he’d take the time to reconcile his past behavior not with God, but with his ex wives, it would go a long way to restoring his credibility

  • Gregory

    last polling before sc primary shows gingrich and paul catching up.
    romney at 32, gingrich 26, paul 24, santorum 18



  • Nathan Martin

    I really think there are two sides to this story. All we have is the liberal media side of it. According to Gingrich at the latest debate, the media didn’t even want to hear his children come to his defense in saying that what his former wife said was not true. I honestly don’t think any of us are going to know the true story behind what happened and yes I really believe he has changed. We really shouldn’t be accusing him or placing this kind of judgement on him since we do NOT know all the facts here. Just some random thoughts on the issue.

    • Gregory

      We are not judging him as God judges a soul after a person’s death. When election time comes, we are weighing candidates to decide who amongst them can best lead the country. The best way to do that is by looking at their track record. Unfortunately, Gingrich’s track record speaks for itself; it is not good.

    • Dan C

      There is no liberal media. Just a venue to sell certain narratives that are saleable. If the narratives had no audience, the sales would go down. The narrative has an audience. Like Jerry Springer. If there was no audience for Jersey Shore, it would go away. But CNN, and Fox, and ABC have audiences.

      You may find certain media brands distasteful. But not millions. Many find them just right.

      They sell a saleable product. The “liberal bias” story is old and projects a paranoid impression. ABC News produces stories that sell. CNN does the same. Fox News does the same for a different audience.

      If people stopped paying attention, the product would change.