FROM A question-and-answer session with Speaker Newt...


FROM A question-and-answer session with Speaker Newt Gingrich at a National Newspaper Association meeting:

Moderator: Did you tell a business group that if one disagrees with editorial policy, curtailing advertising could be an effective approach for change?

Speaker Gingrich: Absolutely. Absolutely. What I said -- and I'll say it anywhere -- the news media is the fourth estate. It deserves to be just as carefully scrutinized, just as critically looked at. It should be held up to the same standard as politicians or judges or anybody else.

It is totally legitimate for a businessman to walk in and say -- and this is the point I was driving at -- if you have an editorial writer who does not have a clue how the free market works, who has been systematically misreporting an issue, it is perfectly legitimate to walk in and sit down with the publisher and say that's not a very good standard. There is nothing wrong with criticizing an editorial writer. There's nothing wrong with saying I don't particularly want to subsidize a writer who is misinforming people.

Now, we're not talking about -- I don't think any newspaper ought to give in to somebody who walks in and says, "If you criticize my company" -- I'm not saying that. I'm saying that there are -- there are some editorial boards in this country who are so out of touch with normal, day-to-day reality, who are living in an isolated, ivory tower fantasy land, and every day those editorial writers are misinforming the people.

Now I just think business leaders who create jobs, who worry about competing in the world market, who worry about survival in an economic system have some right to sit down with a publisher and say, "Why can't we get accurate coverage of how the free market works? Why can't we get accurate coverage of what actually happens?" And I don't see why that should particularly threaten anybody. You can't be as powerful as the news media are and not expect to have some standard where other people get to look at you, too. I mean, you're -- you are part of this game; you're not -- you're not out here standing on an ivory tower. You're part of the business of a free society.

And if you go and read all of Jefferson's work, Jefferson not only treasured a free press, but he pretty cheerfully criticized it. And that's all I'm suggesting.

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