Live-blogging the coverage on the media-saturated Iowa caucuses–
7:40 a.m. We’re not off to a good start. Newt Gingrich just appeared on CBS’ The Early Show, pitching for himself, and called Mitt Romney a liar.
The exchange with guest interviewers Norah O’Donnell and Bob Schieffer started ordinarily. Gingrich boosted himself, then criticized Romney’s super-PAC ads against him, then characterized Romney’s positioning as less than candid.
O’Donnell: “Are you calling Mitt Romney a liar?”
O’Donnell, flapped at getting a direct answer to an oversimplified question, pressed Gingrich to repeat. So he did. Schieffer ditto.
For the record, there is a difference between characterizing a statement as false, or even a lie, and characterizing the person as ‘a liar.’ This is a central distinction in ethics.
In politics on television, no difference. Gingrich could have said, “No. I’ve done no name-calling,” and gone on to make the distinction between lying–something everyone has done at some point–and throwing out the whole person. Of course, throwing out Romney Gingrich’s objective.