DOVER, Del. -- During a meeting with 18 Delaware Tea Party leaders here on Wednesday, Newt Gingrich lambasted FOX News Channel, accusing the cable network of having been in the tank for Mitt Romney from the beginning of the Republican presidential fight. An employee himself of the news outlet as recently as last year, he also cited former colleagues for attacking him out of what he characterized as personal jealousy.
âI think FOX has been for Romney all the way through,â Gingrich said during the private meeting -- to which RealClearPolitics was granted access -- at Wesley College. âIn our experience, Callista and I both believe CNN is less biased than FOX this year. We are more likely to get neutral coverage out of CNN than we are of FOX, and weâre more likely to get distortion out of FOX. Thatâs just a fact.â
Gingrichâs contract as a FOX News contributor was terminated last spring as he geared up for his White House run.
The former House speakerâs blunt remarks came in response to a question from one of the state Tea Party leaders about the manner in which his campaign has been treated by conservative media outlets.
Gingrich did not pull his punches in accusing Rupert Murdoch -- the chairman and CEO of News Corp., FOX Newsâ parent company -- of pushing for Romney behind the scenes.
âI assume itâs because Murdoch at some point [who] said, âI want Romney,â and so âfair and balancedâ became âRomney,â â Gingrich said. âAnd thereâs no question that Fox had a lot to do with stopping my campaign because such a high percentage of our base watches FOX.â
He saved his strongest condemnation for syndicated columnist and ABC television commentator George Will, who has been critical of the former congressman throughout his campaign.
Gingrich said that Will was among the conservative media figures who harbored âpersonal jealousyâ against him.
âIn the case of Will, I was on [George] Stephanopoulos on Sunday morning with him, and it was kind of a âYouâre not allowed to run for office -- I mean, if you could run for office, why am I not running for office?â â Gingrich said. âAnd itâs almost like they were personally offended. You know, âThis canât be real, and how can this guy go do that?â I got that reaction from Will a few years back about writing a book because Iâm supposed to be a politician. Heâs supposed to be the writer. Well, Iâve now written 24 books, and 13 of them are New York Times bestsellers. I mean, thereâs a morning when George ought to just get over it.â
Gingrich said that despite serving two decades in Congress, he was the âleast establishment candidate since Ronald Reaganâ -- another reason why he said he had not endeared himself to conservative media figures.
âThey know I donât care about their opinions,â he said. âI donât go to their cocktail parties. I donât go to their Christmas parties. The only press events I go to are interesting dinners when the wife insists on it, so weâre going to go to the White House Correspondents' dinner because she wants to. And weâre actually going to go to CNNâs table, not FOX.â
At one point in the meeting, Gingrich left the room to conduct a satellite interview with CNN anchor Wolf Blitzer before returning to take further questions from the activists who sat at four tables that had been pushed together in the middle of a room.
Gingrich said that last June and July -- a time when his campaign was widely considered dead in the water by political analysts -- were âthe two hardest months in 53 years of doing this,â and he lamented that people he knew personally at FOX News had written him off.