After an unusually subdued Florida debate, Newt Gingrich said Tuesday that he wouldn't "allow" the moderators of future GOP forums to prevent audiences from cheering. Gingrich's often-fiery performances at the podium, especially his attacks on the media, have energized conservative crowds and fueled his rise in polls, but, at Monday's debate, NBC's Brian Williams told the crowd to hold its applause until the breaks. In hindsight, Gingrich says he wishes he'd protested NBC's rule, arguing that it amounts to stifling free speech. Do audiences really have a right to cheer at presidential debates?
No. Gingrich's complaint is bogus: "Free speech? Meh," says Ed Morrissey at Hot Air. That's a "false and silly" argument. The First Amendment says the government can't regulate free speech, but news organizations "have every right" to avoid cutting into the candidates' debating time by setting some rules. If Gingrich and his fans in the audience don't like those rules, they can stay home. "Free speech does not mean that NBC has to broadcast cheering sections."
"Gingrich: I'll 'serve notice' that future debates must allow audience cheering"
Spectators should be allowed to cheer: Newt's right — "asking the audience to remain silent is silly," says Jed Lewison at Daily Kos. "If you don't want audience participation... then don't invite an audience." Still, he's "a fool to be complaining about it." He's only reminding people that "without an audience cheering him on, he transforms from the Incredible Hulk into the Pillsbury Doughboy."
"Newt Gingrich says he won't agree to future debates unless audience can applaud his verbal stylings"
Like it or not, the crowds will be quiet in the fall: Get used to the silence, Newt, says Pete Spiliakos at First Things. The fall presidential debates against President Obama won't take place in "some Tea Party Thunderdome." They'll be orderly affairs, no applause allowed. Gingrich might look like a "awesome debater" when he's getting hoots and hollers for attacking "the elitist, weenie, liberal media," but he'll look absurd if he tries his "indignation act" in a silent auditorium.
THE WEEK'S AUDIOPHILE PODCASTS: LISTEN SMARTER
- After Ferguson: Stop deferring to the cops
- 43 TV shows to watch in 2014
- How to adopt the perfect rescue dog
- Ferguson riots were terrible — but this racist reaction was worse
- The hilarious hypocrisy of Republicans complaining about the imperial presidency
- How to be the most productive person in your office — and still get home by 5:30 p.m.
- In Ferguson, Michael Brown lost his life — and America's police lost the benefit of the doubt
- Is it now OK to have sex with animals?
- 10 things you need to know today: November 27, 2014
- Why the poor can't catch a break on Thanksgiving
Subscribe to the Week