As a reporter, I’m rarely at a loss for words when it comes to interviewing almost anyone. By now, I’ve heard and seen a lot.
But there I was Saturday, standing alone with my recorder in a quiet stupor, as my subject, Newt Gingrich, rushed away.
At a Tea Party rally in Greensboro Saturday, I had scheduled a private interview with the presidential candidate through his staff.
His aide gave no preconditions; no topics were off limits.
That’s why I was so surprised when, before I had finished asking my first question, that same aide cut the interview short and prompted Secret Service to grab and briefly detain me as the former speaker was led away.
The unexpected reaction came in response to a question about Fox News chairman Roger Ailes. Last week, in a speech he gave at the University, Ailes had some harsh words for Gingrich, claiming the candidate was “trying to get a job at CNN, because he knows he isn’t going to get to come back to Fox.”
Gingrich was a former paid Fox News contributor. At a campaign stop in Delaware last week, he told supporters that Ailes’ network was biased against his campaign.
“We are more likely to get neutral coverage out of CNN than we are of Fox, and we’re more likely to get distortion out of Fox,” he told supporters.
But before I even had a chance on Saturday to relay Ailes’ comments, his aide pressed his hands against me, and several Secret Service agents stopped me in my tracks.