This story is getting the flashing light treatment on Drudge, so it's destined to blow up. Here we go:
Marianne Gingrich has said she could end her ex-husband's career with a single interview. Earlier this week, she sat before ABCNEWS cameras, the DRUDGE REPORT has learned. She spoke to ABCNEWS reporter Brian Ross for two hours. Her explosive revelations are set to rock the campaign. But now a "civil war" has erupted inside of the network, an insider claims, on exactly when the confession will air!
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.
A decision was tentatively made to air the interview next Monday, after all votes have been counted. Gingrich canceled a press conference on Wednesday to deal with the matter. "He believes that what he says in public and how he lives don't have to be connected," Marianne Gingrich, Newt's wife of 18 years, explained to ESQUIRE last year. "When you try and change your history too much, and try and recolor it because you don't like the way it was or you want it to be different to prove something new ... you lose touch with who you really are."
Rumors are swirling that the controversial interview could air as early as tomorrow night, which may coincide with the scheduled Republican debate on CNN. Let's face it: This issue (Newt's ample personal baggage) has been the giant elephant in the room throughout the nomination contest. None of Gingrich's GOP rivals have tackled it directly, but you can bet your bottom dollar that Democrats wouldn't hesitate plumb the depths of personal gossip to make Newt as toxic as possible in a general election setting. It is an indisputable fact that Newt cheated on two successive wives, and is now married for a third time. He has also blamed his indiscretions on his own inflated sense of patriotic duty. It's also true that some of the whispers about him are maliciously false. But when a national candidate has at least one estranged ex-wife out there who's willing to dish dirt, that can't be dismissed as a non-issue. Also, since Newt has justified his supporters' dishonest explorations of Mitt Romney's record at Bain Capital as a legitimate part of the "vetting" process, and that he was simply "asking questions" about topics that would surely arise in a general, I don't see how this situation is materially different. If a major shoe is going to drop, let's have it drop now. A few questions, as we ponder this possible game-changer:
(1) Are these supposed "bombshell" revelations anything new and uniquely damaging, or will they be a recapitulation of sundry unpleasantries we've heard about in the past?
(2) Did the former Mrs. Gingrich come forward on her own volition, or did a rival campaign nudge her toward Brian Ross? This is irrelevant in terms of the story's impact, but would still be interesting to know.
(3) Will South Carolina voters see this as an unfair MSM ploy to destroy Gingrich (as many viewed the Herman Cain/Politico imbroglio, at least initially), or will they grow nervous that Newt is a ticking political time bomb?
(4) Will ABC News release the infamous Rashid Khalidi tape, in which then-State Senator Barack Obama reputedly toasts his great friend and Palestinian Liberation Organization activist at a going away party in Chicago? ABC has had that tape in its possession since the 2008 campaign, but has steadfastly refused to disseminate it in any form.
Also, ABC News is under fire tonight from the Romney campaign for a story that alleges Romney used a Cayman Islands bank as a tax shelter. His campaign has adamantly denied the story, calling it "flat wrong," and demanding a retraction. They'd help their case by releasing Romney's tax records, as they've indicated they eventually will. Quite a night ABC News is having, isn't it?
UPDATE - In regards to the Romney/Cayman Islands story, Allahpundit has a helpful rundown of what's actually at issue. No one's accusing Romney of sheltering his own money in off-shore banks, or is there an allegation of illegality:
Does this matter? Not as much as it would if Romney was sheltering his own dough...The Caymans shell company is aimed at “shield[ing] foreign investors from U.S. taxes they would pay for investing in U.S. companies.” Same left-wing political attack applies — Bain and Romney are helping their wealthy clientele to avoid paying their “fair share” in taxes — but the specifics are apparently a bit different...ABC’s now changed the headline. It used to read “Romney Parks Millions in Offshore Tax Haven.” Minor problem: It’s not actually a tax haven for him. He pays the same tax on that money as he does on his U.S. investments. Now the headline reads “Romney Parks Millions in Cayman Islands.”
UPDATE II - A preview of coming attractions, or just the beginning?
UPDATE III - Damage control from Team Gingrich. The former Speaker's daughters have penned this missive to ABC News:
The failure of a marriage is a terrible and emotional experience for everyone involved. Anyone who has had that experience understands it is a personal tragedy filled with regrets, and sometimes differing memories of events. We will not say anything negative about our father’s ex-wife. He has said before, privately and publicly, that he regrets any pain he may have caused in the past to people he loves. ABC News or other campaigns may want to talk about the past, just days before an important primary election. But Newt is going to talk to the people of South Carolina about the future – about job creation, lower taxes, and about who can defeat Barack Obama by providing the sharpest contrast to his damaging, extreme liberalism. We are confident this is the conversation the people of South Carolina are interested in having.
Our father is running for President because of his grandchildren – so they can inherit the America he loves. To do that, President Obama must be defeated. And as the only candidate in the race, including Obama, who has actually helped balance the national budget, create jobs, reform welfare, and cut taxes and spending, Newt felt compelled to run - to serve his country and safeguard his grandchildren's future.
Classy, but not sure how effective it'll be.
Guy Benson is Townhall.com's Political Editor. Follow him on Twitter @guypbenson. He is co-authors with Mary Katharine Ham for their new book End of Discussion: How the Left's Outrage Industry Shuts Down Debate, Manipulates Voters, and Makes America Less Free (and Fun).
Author Photo credit: Jensen Sutta Photography