Gingrich: News media shouldn’t organize 2012 debates

Michael Calderone
November 22, 2010
Newt Gingrich
Newt Gingrich

Newt Gingrich, again talking about 2012, said Sunday on C-SPAN that he thinks Republican presidential "candidates and the party ought to organize the debates, not the news media."

That'd be a big change from recent election seasons.

Democratic candidates avoided debating on Fox News during the 2008 primary but still took part in numerous debates on other networks. This time around, some conservatives have already spoken out against NBC News and Politico hosting the first Republican debate in spring 2011. Gingrich has reservations, too, especially if a couple of MSNBC's opinionated hosts were involved:

There's no possibility that I would ever go to a debate and have [Keith] Olbermann or Chris Matthews asking questions. I watched the debate a couple of years ago and it was an embarrassment because they were so relentlessly hostile and they were so left-wing that every question they asked of the Republicans was designed to embarrass and divide the Republicans. And  every question they asked the Democrats was designed to make them look good. Well why would we participate in that?

Gingrich can rest easy, since it's unlikely that Olbermann and Matthews will be asking the questions this time around. NBC News  is slated as co-sponsor for the upcoming debate, whereas MSNBC  co-sponsored the May 2007 Republican primary debate with Politico.

You can watch Gingrich's "Washington Journal" exchange here.

UPDATE: On Twitter, Olbermann pointed out that he wasn't a part of the 2007 debate: "Newt Gingrich today complained how anti-GOP I was that time I moderated a GOP debate. Except I never HAVE moderated a GOP debate." Also: Media Matters' Jamison Foser doesn't think Matthews was so tough in that past Republican debate.

(Gingrich faces reporters in April 1995:  AP Photo/Joe Marquette)