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What it looks like when Newt’s in charge

These days a lot of people take New Gingrich seriously, but it wasn’t always the case. I thought it would be interesting to look back at how newspapers covered his humiliating resignation in 1998.

As you might remember, the resignation of the Speaker of the House of Representatives was historic news. Gingrich, who helped the Republicans retake the House in 1994, saw his party turn on him after dismal results in the 1998 election. (This was after Newt had been fined $300,000 for ethics violations, but before it was widely known that he’d carried on an affair during the Clinton impeachment proceedings.)

Take a look at these front pages from November 7, 1998…

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By 1998 standards, this was a HUGE headline for The Times. The paper breathlessly announced a “Revolt,” “The Fall of Gingrich,” and “From Great Victory to Sudden Demise.”

New York Times Gingrich Resigns

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The Washington Post busted out a two deck-headline all the way across the top, branding it a “GOP Rebellion.”

Washington Post

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A New York Post classic: “NEWTERED!” The conservative-leaning paper called it “a stunning end to a tumultuous career.”

New York Post, Newtered

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The Daily News, which had earlier branded Newt a “Cry Baby,” went with “BYE, BABY.”

New York Daily News Gingrich Resigns

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It wasn’t just big news in the big East Coast cities. It also dominated front pages in Chicago…

Chicago Tribune Gingrich Resigns

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… and Los Angeles.

Los Angeles Times Gingrich Resigns

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Why dig this up? It’s not just to show off that I still know how to use a microfilm machine. Two takeaways:

1. A man who was a national embarrassment 14 years ago just won his party’s vote for president in South Carolina! Redemption stories are one thing, but this appears to be a case where Republicans have simply forgotten what happened the last time they put Newt Gingrich in charge of something. Perhaps we use a different part of our brain to process breaking political news than we do to remember history. Events that elicited powerful emotional responses just a few years ago are filed away and forgotten.

2. Newt Gingrich abandoned the highest elected office he ever held. Drama follows him. Anyone considering voting for Newt Gingrich should consider if he’s the kind of fellow you want holding the launch codes to the nuclear arsenal.

— By Daryl Lang. Filed under News & Journalism, Politics

One comment

  1. kathi wren says:

    I’m thinking this is good news for the Democrats. Newt’ll be easier to beat; he’s a nutcase. The Rebuplican establishment is probably gnashing their teeth right now; they know they can’t control him.

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