(CNN) – The chief investigative correspondent at ABC News on Sunday defended the timing of an interview with Newt Gingrich's ex-wife and denied the presidential candidate's allegation that the network was biased against conservatives.
Brian Ross told CNN's "Reliable Sources" host, Howard Kurtz, that he had been trying to secure the interview with Marianne Gingrich since last November.
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The interview was broadcast on Thursday night, meaning there was "one news cycle to allow Mr. Gingrich to respond, and respond he did," Ross said.
Gingrich's angry response to a question about the interview from CNN moderator John King to start Thursday night's debate has been widely credited with helping turn Saturday's South Carolina primary vote in his favor.
Appearing on the CBS program "Face the Nation" later Sunday, Gingrich said the ABC report, and questions about his ex-wife, didn't play well with South Carolina voters.
"I think you saw the people of South Carolina agreed it was totally inappropriate," Gingrich said, later adding: "I was amazed at how intense the feeling was that night, that people just repudiated that kind of trash in the campaign."
Gingrich also said the timing of the ABC report revealed a possible bias in favor of rival candidate Mitt Romney.
"The way they did it, it was almost as if ABC was an arm of the Romney campaign," Gingrich said.
Ross pointed out in his interview, which was conducted before Gingrich's comments to CBS, that the story on Gingrich's ex-wife ran the day after another report by Ross about how Romney had millions of dollars in funds held offshore in the Cayman Islands.
Later in the interview, Ross denied an allegation made by Gingrich in Thursday night's debate that his campaign had offered several friends to ABC to prove that Marianne Gingrich's story was false.
"That simply is not true," Ross said, adding the Gingrich camp only offered his two daughters, who were featured in the "Nightline" report. "Nobody else was offered to us at all and our request to talk with the speaker himself was also denied by the campaign."
On the claim that ABC has an anti-conservative agenda, Ross noted that he faced similar charges from Barack Obama's supporters in 2008 when he reported on Rev. Jeremiah Wright, the then-candidate's former pastor.
"We're not out to get anybody. We're out to cover the news and to frame what's going on in this campaign," Ross said.
Ross said Gingrich's past marital infidelities were a viable topic for discussion.
"I think moral character is a relevant factor for every candidate running for president, and he [Gingrich] has campaigned on a platform involving policies that are family values and the sanctity of marriage. So I think, yes, it is an issue," he said.
Ross also stood by his report on Romney's offshore holdings. He pointed to a Wall Street Journal report that contradicted the Romney campaign's assertion that no tax advantages came from holding money offshore.
"We can't really know without seeing Romney's tax returns, which to this point he has not released or made public," Ross said.
Romney committed Sunday to releasing his tax records on Tuesday.
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My problem is what made the Catholic church annul his (2) previous marriages (one with children). This seems to me they made the children illegimate. Has this man made a deal with the Catholic church to work on their behalf in return for cleaning up his past. I do not know how this has happened and wish they would investigate this.
Newt will blow it again by running his mouth. He can't stop talking.
He should remind Mr. Gingrich of how he said Mitt Romney's history at Bain Capital needed to vented, and show a few news clips of Newt during Clinton's impeachment hearings...and don't forget "A fair question, is and Affair Question"...
Republicans are very used to harassing fellow Americans to gain power as George w bush wrestled power away from Ann Richards and algore. Now, newt. Is harassing the media again to stop them from doing their jobs so he could wrestle power away from a blackman he thinks has any right to be in America
shame on the democrats for sitting back and allow republicans to handle them like they have no back bones. Jim.
"blaming the media" rings of $ara so much it makes me sick.
Shortcomings are being brought to light – what's wrong with that? He's admitted it – what's wrong? If he (like Hitler) can discredit the media, then how do we learn the truth?
He's talking about Mitt's past - we have the right to know about his past also. ALL OF IT.
Now Ross need to investigate Solyndra.
Newt, if you don't want people talking about you, then stay out of politics.
I do hope Gingrich understands what is means by participating in a "debate". Simply it is about discussion and answering questions. It does not matter when the question is to be placed and whether participants like them or not. Gingrich used what we call "defense mechanism" of using his toughness/blasting, and people fell in his trap. Further more, according to debate's rules, he has no right to attack the moderator. The moderator was doing his job.
Beware the words of men with great hair. It is a clue to the presence of megalomania and self-delusion: Rod Blogoyavich, Donald Trump, and Newt Gingrich. All three are happy to rewrite history when it serves their own purposes.
The issue is still about Fiscal Responsibility. People get married and divorced all the time. No News Here. Maybe Jobs will pick up this year but don't count on it. So keep the eye on what's needed not what's sensational at the time. Newt will make a better President than what we have now.
How can anyone say FAMILY VALUES AND NEWT GETRICH in the same phrase and not have your mouth bust out in flames.He is a proven cheater in life and at his work and America, if this who you want representing you, then you will deserve what you get,acheater and a liar.
Ross did nothing wrong; airing a timely interview is good journalism. The opposite, very bad "journalism", is what the allegedly "liberal" New York Times did when it held back its important illegal wiretap story until after the 2004 election. Withholding important information from voters is one of the most vile things the media can do to violate the public trust.
Marianne infers that Newt wanted an "open marriage" because he was now involved with another woman. I glean form the crafty couched language was that at the time, her marriage was for all pracical purposes over, and that newt had moved on and that he wanted to "regularize their affairs". Sounds like New told he's going to move on with his life and does she want a divorce (nothing new to Marrianne is it) then – or not. Sounds like Newt consulted her pushing a divorce upon Marianne at that time. As I recall they were legally separated at the time ... so it hardly sounds like he was proposing an open marriage. Rather he was suggesting that they get on with their lives rather than wallow in the past. When then does NBC seek to foment dissention and cause more pain, NBC just took advantage of and exacerbated Marianne's condition for noi good purpose, Shame on Brian Ross and NBC!
I hope people realize that King's question, and Gingrich's 'outrage' were both highly scripted and orchestrated prior to the debate? Before every debate, the candidates and the media hosting the debate get together for a production meeting and hammer out who speaks first, where they stand, and what question to ask first, and to whom. This is show business people. If there's anyone out there who truly believes that King was attacking Gingrich and Gingrich was really answering spontaneously, I have some oceanfront property in Kansas they may want to buy.
Every candidates past is relevant and how they own it and what they do with it going forward matters. It is news worthy and what the public makes of it will show in the voting. Welcome to American politics same as ever. Voters have evolved and the general election will show how far!!!
As far as I'm concerned, Ross isnt the one running for the highest office in the land. Every single part of Gingrich's life is open to scrutiny, and the timing is fair game as well.
They(FOX) went after Obama in every way.. his aunts, uncles, birth certificate, his "pals", religion, college transcripts, what kind of dog he adopted, what musical guests he had play, his pastor....
If the media dug half as deep as they did with Obama with Mitt and Newt, these guys would be quickly exposed as un-fit to be President.
i wish the politicans would ask magots like Ross about there personal lives, sex lives and finances...
Anonymous @ 12:45 p.m. – well said.
pnwjim – but didn't you hear, he did it for the love of his country? One of the stupidest things I've ever heard a politician say, and I remember Dan Quayle.
Ray E (Georgia) I respectfully disagree. Newt is the father of divisive toxic hate speak in politics. I don't think he should be allowed anyone near the white house, unless heavily guarded and on tour. God only knows what he would find there that he could cash in on.
Thanks ABC and CNN. You did what Newt has been unable to do to this point. Keep the pressure on him and I think it will expose who has the lowest IQ. Does this guy scare you this much ABC...CNN??? I hope you have a more comprehensive plan on taking down the conservative candidate. Let's see if you can get him to 50% of the vote against Obama. Just a thought, interview his boy scout den leader or his first girlfriend.
If her accusations were true it would have come up long before now. Anyone who has ever been through a divorce knows you throw everything you can at your spouse during the divorce proceedings and not wait for nearly 20 years to bring it up. She's just seeking a little payback and publicity for herself