[W]hy is Newt Gingrich on "Today" in the first place? The pseudo-intellectual clown hasn't held public office since the '90s. He was driven from his leadership post in disgrace -- by members of his own party -- nearly 12 years ago.Why is Newt on, and Wright and Foley aren't? Because the Republicans want him on. This is not a press story; it's a Republican story.
Will "Today" also call on former House Speakers Jim Wright (D-Texas) and Tom Foley (D-Wash.) for their thoughts on current events? (For the record, I can't find any record of either of them appearing on "Today" at any point in the last 15 years.)
I'm not especially surprised -- "Meet the Press" had Gingrich on as a guest five times in 2009, more than any other any other political figure in the United States -- but it's frustrating, especially when his bogus claims go unchecked on the air.
If the Republicans didn't want Newt Gingrich (or Rudy Giuliani, or John McCain, two other Benen targets) on TV representing them, it wouldn't happen.
Now, Benen is correct that Newt should properly be seen as a disgraced clown, and he's right to highlight Newt's repetition of the thoroughly debunked -- thoroughly false -- 16K IRS agents nonsense. But it's not as if Newt is alone on that one; it's an official GOP talking point, and whoever NBC has on to spout the official GOP talking points is going to repeat it. And that's the real point: it is right and proper that the news networks should, in fact, have people on to spout the official talking points of both political parties. That the GOP chooses a guy who is a total fraud to represent their point of view speaks badly of them, not of NBC.
More broadly, I still really don't understand why conservatives are so much more willing to forgive their disgraced pols than are the Democrats. Benen is correct that Jim Wright never emerged as a pundit. Nor did Dan Rostenkowski. But G. Gordon Liddy, Chuck Colson, Ollie North, Newt Gingrich, and Tom DeLay all have been treated by Republicans as respected, respectable party veterans. Fred Malek, Bill Bennett...it's not a short list. I could easily be missing someone, but I really am not aware of any Dem equivalent -- and it's not for a lack of Democratic pols felled by scandal. Granted, Democrats are willing to take on former GOP miscreants who have flipped politically (thus John Dean), but there seems to be a serious divide between the parties on this one.