Newt Gingrich has admitted that he probably won't become president, and Roger Ailes says there's no future for him at Fox News, but the candidate still insists on being treated like a king. His campaign is at least $4.5 million in debt, Politico's Kenneth P. Vogel and Ginger Gibson report, but he insists on flying private jets, visiting zoos, and having a paid staffer follow around his wife in an elephant costume to promote her book. His Newt.org empire is falling apart, and he has no chance of reclaiming his reported $600,000 a year contract with Fox. In March, Gingrich's staffers had a two-hour meeting focused on "keeping him from looking like a fool," Politico reports. It appears they have failed at this mission.
Gingrich's taste for luxury has been a running theme since he started running for president -- there's a little bit of snobbery in portraying him as a rich redneck, but whatever -- and the candidate hasn't let those indulgences go despite his dwindling moneymaking options. His for-profit think tank, the Center for Health Transformation, went bankrupt last week. His non-profit American Solutions for Winning the Future went under last summer. Two other non-profits have seen donations drop by half. His campaign has resorted to renting out its donor list, potentially burning his supporters with a bunch of spam, Politico says. Perhaps worst of all for Gingrich, who loves talking TV so much his campaign strategy was based on cable news interviews and debate performances instead of meeting voters, he's finished at Fox. Gingrich's ranted against the network's bias against him Wednesday, telling a Delaware Tea Party crowd, "There’s no question that Fox had a lot to do with stopping my campaign... I think Fox has been for Romney all the way through." In response, Fox News chief Roger Ailes told journalism students at the University of North Carolina - Chapel Hill Thursday that Gingrich "trying to get a job at CNN because he knows he isn’t going to get to come back to Fox News," The Herald-Sun's Melody Guyton Butts reports.
New York's Gabriel Sherman tweets the "bad blood" between Ailes and Gingrich dates from when Gingrich managed to negotiate getting a salary that was second only to Sarah Palin among paid contributors. Some speculated that Gingrich's anti-Fox rant was meant to secure a spot at CNN. But Gingrich should be worried: when Ailes declares you're done, you're done. Take Sarah Palin, for instance, who has a lot in common with Gingrich: a talent for performance, a huge ego, a shrinking political empire, a tendency for denial. Last year, Ailes admitting to hiring Palin because "she was hot and got good ratings" and said "had no chance to be president." Palin's prominence has certainly diminished since then. Her SarahPAC spent more money than it took in the first quarter of 2012, spending $19,000 to rebut her portrayal in HBO's Game Change. On Thursday, Breitbart.com published an interview with Palin addressing Ailes's skeptical view of her political future. Her response was pretty meek: "I haven’t heard all of his remarks, but I wonder if Roger is aware that the same thing was said about me when I ran for city council, mayor, and eventually governor," she said. "No doubt many people who are told they can’t do something will work that much harder, and they succeed." She suggested Breitbart.com, weirdly, should sent Ailes a copy of her biopic, The Undefeated. Of course, Palin has been defeated. Just like Gingrich.
Update: Ailes clarifies his comments to Mediaite: "When I hired most of the Republican contributors, none of them had any immediate prospects of becoming President -- I wasn’t referring to any of their long-term prospects, including Governor Palin. I hired all of them because they made for good television at the time. Sarah Palin is young and nobody can predict the future."