Drudge dropped a bomb on the South Carolina Primary in a big way last night with an old-school siren and everything. After wearing out command/control + r on millions of laptops in America, Drudge finally revealed a few details on a story involving Newt Gingrich’s second wife (and second ex-wife) Marianne Gingrich.
According to the exclusive report, ABC News’ Brian Ross had a revealing interview with Ms. Gingrich earlier this week and the contents of the report are so explosive that ABC News executives at first ordered the story to be kept under wraps until this Monday, 48 hours after the South Carolina primary, then they changed their minds to Friday. At the time of this writing they changed the air date to Thursday.
The idea that corporate executives determine what information can and cannot be released by a news outlet lest the news effect voters behavior raises serious ethical issues that need to be explored.
According to Drudge:
ABCNEWS suits determined it would be “unethical” to run the Marianne Gingrich interview so close to the South Carolina Primary, a curious decision, one insider argued, since the network has aggressively been reporting on other candidates.
Assuming the report is accurate, one has to ask “how close is ‘too close’ to voting day for a story to break?” Is it three days? Four? How about seven? Who makes this determination? Is this just a rule for a primary, or for a general election as well? Will the network be this introspective and reserved when they receive the inevitable October Surprise from Team Axelrod?
News is news is news is news.
When we receive information that is relevant to Americans making an informed decision is not the business of an unnamed executive who likes to play God with the news of the day. The networks and newspapers of the old media are so obsessed with being the “gate-keepers” and having the all-important job of protecting the American public from having too much information that our delicate sensibilities can’t handle that we end up with squashed stories about blue dresses, ex-wives and Islamist terrorist sympathizers partying with an unknown State Senator from Illinois.
And by the way, if the ABC News executives were trying to “protect’ Gingrich from this story they’ve done a miserable job. If they squash it until after the voting Newt is in a horrible position. The story has leaked (as these stories always do) and now little trickles have seeped out onto the Internet, talk radio and eventually cable news. By the time CNN holds tomorrow night’s debate in Charleston everyone will have already formed an opinion about a story that none of us have really been able to see. Poor Newt Gingrich will be unable to address any single, specific part of the story because, like the rest of us, he doesn’t really have any idea what, specifically is in the story. So instead, our imaginations will run away with us and assume the worst and Newt can’t do a thing about it.
Airing it on Thursday, two days before the primary, implies a deliberate attempt to influence the outcome.
Yeah, real ethical way of handling this one, ABC News. After all, voters in South Carolina can’t be allowed to know the things you know when you know them. And Gingrich can’t possibly be allowed to face this story with all the facts at his disposal, because that would distract from the campaign. Except it already has. Gingrich has cancelled a press conference that was scheduled for later this evening so he could try to handle this situation … which can’t be handled because no one knows what the situation is.
Well handled, ABC News. This is almost as well thought out as that Christanne Amanpour hire.