11/19/2011

It is amazing how distorted the attacks on Newt Gingrich have been over his first marriage

The story was a horrible story about Newt telling his wife while she was dying of cancer in the hospital that he wanted a divorce. Only problem is that it is simply false on many, many counts. Much of the media has gotten this story wrong. This interesting piece here is from the Seattle Times:

. . . while the thrust of the story about his first divorce is not in dispute — Gingrich's first wife, Jackie Battley, has said previously that the couple discussed their divorce while she was in the hospital in 1980 — other aspects of it appear to have been distorted through constant retelling.

Most significantly, Battley wasn't dying at the time; she is alive today. Nor was the divorce discussion in the hospital "a surprise" to Battley, as many accounts have contended. Battley, not Gingrich, had requested a divorce months earlier, according to Jackie Gingrich Cushman, the couple's younger daughter. Further, Gingrich did not serve his wife with divorce papers on the day of his visit (unlike a subpoena, divorce papers typically aren't "served").

Gingrich's marriage to Battley had been troubled for years before it dissolved 31 years ago, both parties have said. Battley, seven years older than Gingrich, had been his high-school math teacher in Columbus, Ga. They began dating after he graduated and were married in 1962, when Gingrich was 19 and a freshman at Emory University in Atlanta.

The marriage grew contentious, and the couple spent years in counseling. In spring 1980, Gingrich left her, Battley told The Washington Post in 1985. Around this time, the couple told their children, then 16 and 13, they intended to divorce, Cushman wrote in a syndicated column in May (none of the family members nor Gingrich would comment for this article).

The hospital visit took place that summer, several months into their separation. Battley, then undergoing treatment for uterine cancer, had had two prior surgeries, and Gingrich's visit occurred a day after a third operation at Emory Hospital, in which doctors removed a benign tumor, according to Cushman. . . .

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