Former McCain strategist Steve Schmidt made the statement over the weekend that were Newt Gingrich to win the Florida primary after winning South Carolina, we might see a bit of a civil war within the Republican Party ensue. Well, I think we got a taste of some of the opening salvos of that during this interview from Sunday's Reliable Sources on CNN.
The Washington Post's Jennifer Rubin was not at all happy with CNN debate moderator John King for the question he asked Newt Gingrich to open up their South Carolina debate earlier in the week, but not for the same reason the audience was displeased. It's not often I agree with Rubin on much of anything, but she's right here that King lobbed Gingrich a complete softball in the way he framed the question and should have known better that Gingrich was going to go after him and attack him for it.
Rachel Maddow actually made a very similar point in her coverage shortly after the debate, noting that there were about a dozen different ways that question could have been framed for Gingrich so he would have had to answer for the hypocrisy of one, being from the party that claims to run on family values when you've got a history of cheating on your spouses. And two, the utter hypocrisy of Gingrich cheating on his wife at the same time he was trying to have President Clinton impeached for similar behavior.
Howard Kurtz did point out that Rubin is a supporter of Mitt Romney during the segment. What he failed to note is that she wrote an op-ed the previous day, basically begging a number of people in the Republican Party leadership to come together and "collectively get behind a not-Gingrich candidate." Schmidt talked about the panic that was coming if it looked like Newt Gingrich might actually have a chance to win the Republican nomination. Well, as BooMan put it in his post on Rubin's op-ed -- I Got Your Panic, Right Here.
The other thing missing from this discussion is one of the reasons for the audience at the debate being so completely hostile to John King, or to Juan Williams earlier in the week as well, and that's how many of them are potentially Fox News viewers or listen to right wing radio and have been completely propagandized to believe that you can't trust the "liberal media" and that conservatives are somehow under assault from those evil lefties that are just out to get them? We've got large swaths of this country who have been trained to believe that Fox is the only place they can trust to get their information from and as much as CNN tries to go after those viewers by catering to the AstroTurf "tea party" or with their fake balance and host of "conservative" pundits who come on the air and lie to their viewers as well, they're still going to be part of that "liberal cabal" that they've been taught to hate.
As has already been noted here, Fox viewers are less informed than those who watch no news at all. I imagine a good deal of them were in those audiences cheering for Gingrich's attack on John King and booing Juan Williams for daring to point out that Gingrich has been playing the race card. I don't expect Kurtz and his guests to be pointing that out since CNN is about one notch above Fox in the misinformation game, if not on a par with them.
Transcript via CNN below the fold.