Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Public Had No Chance to Hear Gingrich's Side of the Story

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Public Had No Chance to Hear Gingrich's Side of the Story

Article excerpt

The House of Representatives' overwhelming vote against Speaker Newt Gingrich was a result of a political deal made by the leaders of both parties. In this deal, the Republicans have been had - again. They lost this time for the same reason they lost the budget battle of 1995 and the presidential election of 1996: They failed to take their case to the American people.

Amid the banner headlines and the editorial moralizing, how many Americans have ever heard Gingrich's side of the story - or even know that there is another side of the story?

In their haste to "get all this behind us," the Republicans agreed to a deal that ensures it will never be behind them. Only the other half of the story - their half - has been buried by this vote. What is the other half of the story? Behind all the vague and ominous generalities about how Gingrich used "tax-exempt money" to finance his "partisan political activities" is the simple fact that a foundation financed a television course with a social message, taught by Gingrich (a former professor) - just like thousands of other television programs with other social messages that have been financed and are being financed by tax-exempt organizations at this very moment. Colleges, universities, churches, foundations, think tanks and other tax-exempt organizations across the length and breadth of this country have presented particular social views without anyone questioning their tax-exempt status. Gingrich's course presented his viewpoint on general social and cultural trends in American history. Anyone who believes that he went beyond that to partisan political activity need only get a copy of the videotapes to discover the falsity of the charge. Various Democrats are, in fact, praised for various things by Gingrich in this course, and an eight-minute prayer by Franklin D. Roosevelt on D-Day was broadcast in its entirety. Some colleges, including the University of California at Berkeley, gave academic credit to students who studied this videotaped course. Was Berkeley engaged in partisan political activity for Gingrich? Give me a break! Thanks to the political deal worked out inside the Beltway, most Americans will never learn that the basic foundation of the charge against Gingrich was false. …

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