On Newt, Blacks and Food Stamps

Journal-isms: Gingrich says he's prepared to tell African Americans why they shouldn't be satisfied with food stamps.

Getty Images
Getty Images

Others Covering Meeting Ignored Food-Stamp Comment

“I was one of twenty or so reporters in the room, but according to Dylan Byers I was first to tweet it,” Dave Weigel of Slate.com wrote from New Hampshire on Friday.

He was referring to this town hall comment Thursday from Newt Gingrich:

“So I’m prepared, if the NAACP invites me, I’ll go to their convention and talk about why the African-American community should demand paychecks and not be satisfied with food stamps.”

Weigel told Journal-isms he didn’t write a piece based on the comment. But he was the only journalist in the room to report it, however briefly. And once he did, it went viral.

As Byers wrote in Politico on Friday:

Newt Gingrich’s comments about African-Americans and food stamps, made at a town hall meeting in New Hampshire yesterday, have made the expected media rounds — from Slate to The Daily Beast to The Associated Press to MSNBC — but the interpretation has changed somewhat along the way.

“A reporter on the trail notes that Gingrich frequently says in his stump speeches that he would urge people to demand paychecks instead of food stamps — a talking point that it is not usually met with great alarm by the media. He also frequently says that he would go to the NAACP convention if it invited him. On Thursday morning, the two points came together when he said he would go to the NAACP convention and explain ‘why the African-American community should demand paychecks and not be satisfied with food stamps.’

“Slate’s Dave Weigel tweeted a slightly altered version of Gingrich’s quote at 9:34 a.m., and Talking Points Memo put it up less than 20 minutes later with the headline, ‘Newt: African Americans Should Get Off Food Stamps; Demand Paychecks.’ An hour after that, The Daily Beast ran its story with the headline, ‘Gingrich to African-Americans: Get Off of Food Stamps.’ By the end of the day, the AP was comparing the quote to a remark made by Rick Santorum that the president of the National Urban League criticized as pandering to racist elements in the GOP.”

In a posting on Friday, Weigel explained why he found the Gingrich quote newsworthy.