Newt Gingrich says NBC News owes his wife Callista an apology for reporting anonymous sources’ claims she was the reason a slew of aides abandoned the former speaker’s presidential campaign last week. Gingrich also told Fox News’ Greta Van Susteren Wednesday he has no idea who spoke to the television network about his wife’s influence on the mass exodus, but reporting the accusation was “reprehensible.”
“NBC this morning, in a program that had nobody on camera, nobody quoted by name, that quoted reporters talking anonymously about cowardly people, who, frankly, lied about my wife — and I believe NBC owes Callista an apology,” Gingrich said.
“The fact is, my campaign is my campaign — yes, we make decisions as a couple, but in the end, I take full responsibility,” he said. “And I think the program this morning was totally irresponsible and personally reprehensible and the kind of thing that makes it hard to get decent people to run for public office.”
Gingrich called the criticism of his wife “backstabbing” and accused the former staffers of using the attacks as an excuse for not doing their jobs.
“These are supposed to be professionals who we were paying who supposedly had some sense of confidentiality who promptly frankly did some backstabbing in a way that I just found amazing,” he said. “After all my years of public life, I don’t mind people attacking me — I’m a big guy I can take it. But to go after anyone’s wife, I think is pretty despicable.”
Gingrich also compared his relationship with his wife — and her input to his campaign — to the partnership between Ronald and Nancy Reagan.
“Look, Callista and I have a very similar relationship to Nancy and Ronnie Reagan — and people blame Nancy Reagan for things that Ronald Reagan did,” he said. “The fact is, we are partners in thinking a lot of things through. We try to work out our schedule together. We try to work on a lot of projects together. We've made movies together. We've written books together.
“I think that unnerved some of the — some of the consultants who thought they ought to own everything, they ought to control everything,” Gingrich added. “And they resented the idea that they had to have the two of us actually talk with them about things like our schedules.
“So there’s a fundamental difference between the modern world, where I think couples try to work together, and some of the consultants who I think, frankly, had no idea about how to deal with a couple that cared together about their lives,” he said.
Van Susteren asked Gingrich whether he knew who spoke to NBC.
“I have no idea,” he said. “I don’t care what the staff did. NBC is supposed to be a responsible news organization. And I think for them to attack somebody’s wife is utterly reprehensible. And I hope none of them ever have the experience of having their spouse attacked in that kind of reprehensible matter.”
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