Gingrich: Give me your stifled, your poor, your huddled debate audiences yearning to cheer freely

Fox News | The Wrap | Politico | The Washington Post | Time
Journalists and pundits say that Monday’s debate on NBC was tame in part because moderator Brian Williams told the audience to stay quiet. “The crowd silence altered the chemistry in the room,” wrote Politico’s Maggie Haberman. It struck The Washington Post’s Chris Cillizza as “vaguely unnerving.” Time’s James Poniewozik compared the atmosphere to previous debates:

Whether it was booing a gay soldier or cheering the death penalty or going hog-wild over Newt Gingrich’s lambasting of CNN’s John King, the crowd functioned like the live studio audience in an old-fashioned sitcom, not just cuing the home audience with their reactions but providing the candidates with a real-time applause-o-meter and a sense of how their arguments were playing.

So Gingrich, who has had some success attacking the media lately, told Fox News on Tuesday morning that he won’t participate in any debates in which the audience can’t express themselves. “The media doesn’t control free speech,” he said. “People ought to be allowed to applaud if they want to.” That apparently won’t be an issue at CNN’s debate on Thursday. A CNN spokesperson tells The Huffington Post’s Michael Calderone that people can applaud, but they can’t shout or boo. || Related: Audiences at GOP debates getting nearly as much media attention as politicians (Poynter) | Stories focusing on Gingrich doubled from the week of Jan. 9 to the week of Jan 16 (Project for Excellence in Journalism)

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  • Anonymous

    I guess it depends on whether you want a debate or a pep rally. 

    Do you want a Q&A, a back-and-forth, on the issues, or do you want the Newty Gingrich Show, with Newt Gingrich yelling to the audience, “Say kids, what time is it?” and the kids yelling back, “It’s Newty Gingrich time!”*

    Dan

    * My apologizes to Howdy Doody, Buffalo Bob & all the kids in the Peanut Gallery.

  • Anonymous

    Newt tries to stoke the populist anger;
    As Caesar did ‘fore him;
    Yet hears only crickets;
    In the Sunshine State;
    And if there be;
    But one thing a manic diva despises;
    It is the silence that comes;
    After grandiosity.

  • Anonymous

    i am at a loss to undertand why some in the media complain that a candidate is “not exciting” or that a presidential debate was “vaguely unnerving.” they would be easy to name. do we want a song and dance man running for president? maybe a movie action figure?

    i watched some of monday’s nbc debate and was relived that the audience was quiet. if we want to see which candidate can draw the loudest partisans, then put it in frigging yankee stadium where they can scream their bloody heads off. i hope whatever prez debates are still to come will avoid the carnival atmosphere of previous onesthis year and will strictly follow the example of last night’s calm one. good work, mr. williams.

  • Anonymous

    Steve:

    Good roundup.  My view from the second row (attempting to blend in with Republican dignitaries):  The room is tiny — about 400 seats.  The audience was heavy with business execs and probably tilted pro-Romney.  Brian Williams did tell the audience to minimize cheering.  But this group was not going to be whooping and hollering for Gingrich anyhow.

    Rick Edmonds