Friday, May 25, 2007

Update on the Newt Gringrich/Diane Rehm Spat

At the close of today's 10:00 News Roundup on the Diane Rehm Show, host Diane Rehm reset the show's view of the Newt Gingrich cut-and-run incident. According to Ms. Rehm, Newt's publicist called Monday before the Tuesday show to get Newt on. The producers bumped an already-scheduled interview to get Newt on 11:00 Tuesday. Tuesday morning at around 10:00 as Ms. Rehm started to go on air, Newt's publicist called to say that Newt was "tired" and wouldn't do the whole hour.

In my years of listening to Diane Rehm, I'm hard pressed to remember a one-on-one guest getting out early. The 11:00 hour is the author hour. Someone gets on to flog a book for a couple segments, then takes call-in questions. Anyone with casual familiarity with the show format would know this. Nonetheless, Newt's people called as the show opened and asked to break format.

Diane says that had she knows before 10:00 that Newt wasn't in for the full hour she would have declined the interview or at the least opened up for questions sometime before he bailed. She says that there is an audio file posted somewhere in which you can hear Newt tell an engineer that he's only in for forty minutes. Her response is 1) he was an engineer not a producer and 2) the information was given to the producers at the last minute.

She also says that Gingrich's website has "incorrect information." I can't find any information about the issue on It does seem most likely you would find that on the blog which is only open to Newt Premium members which I am not. But a site search of "Rehm" pulls up nothing.

Newt has offered to reappear on the show. Rehm's people have wisely given him The Hand.

I have to wonder about someone contemplating running for President who says he's "too tired" to last an hour. The little State BOE campaign I worked on last fall was exhausting. Probably it was cover for having another interview to do. But why use a cover that makes the potential candidate sound physically weak?

Immediately after the incident, NYTimes ran a story with the competing stories from the two camps. You can listen to the original show here. Diane's reset will appear on this page sometime in the next hour or two, then cycle off sometime over the weekend.

Meanwhile, I'm experiencing another plumbing surge. I'm headed off to the salt mines. The thread is yours; use it well.


Anonymous said...

Rehm is an expert on being MIA on her own show. How much warning does she give Susan Paige or Steve Roberts to fill in for her on her many absences from pneumonia, voice treatments, or just because she sprayed perfume on her contact lenses before placing them in her eyes?

There is no other radio show where the host goes into a hissy fit because they are oblivious on how to come up with extemporaneous material because a guest did not stick around for the entire hour.

Rehm was told in advance about the amount of time Gingrich was able to commit to. If Rehm is too mechanical to depart from her predictable format and adjust the segment to read emails and take calls after 15 minutes, then she is the one with egg on her face, not Gingrich.

Today she took 10 minutes to whine how she was sucker punched by Newt leaving her with 20 minutes of dead air time. She also declined his invitation to come back at a future date. Imagine her turning down Jane Fonda for a return engagement if Fonda committed the same faux pas. Not bloody likely. Apparently petulance knows no age limit.

Anonymous said...

Actually, when the engineer told the Diane Rehm Show producer that Newt would be too tired to do the full hour, they were told, that the show had bent over backwards to get this particular time slot for the convenience of Speaker Gingrich, and that to change the agreement now would be unacceptable. Apparently that statement never made it to Newt, or if he did, he blew it off.

It was not a "hissy fit." She was angry, in her very quiet Diane Rehm way. Basically, Newtie wanted to flog his book and not answer any questions about politics. He knew the deal beforehand, and bailed because he's one of the cabal of politicians who think they can do whatever on earth they want, and usually can.

Well. Diane's response was, very naturally, to open the phones to comment rather than question. And they sure did. Rather than a Q&A period for Newtie, it was a 20-minute Newtie-bashing fest. And he deserved it.