Newt Gingrich’s $300K Jackpot

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When CNBC’s John Harwood asked Newt Gingrich what he did to earn $300,000 consulting for Freddie Mac, he said that he offered them historical advice. This is so plainly implausible that there’s not much point in wasting time pretending to take it seriously enough to debunk it, but Bloomberg reporters Clea Benson and Kristin Jensen took the time anyway. That’s professionalism for you. And the real answer turns out to be sort of interesting in a way. Gingrich, we’re told, didn’t perform any lobbying:

Freddie Mac officials expected Gingrich to provide written material that could be circulated among conservatives on Capitol Hill and in outside organizations, said two former company executives familiar with Gingrich’s role at the firm. And executives looked to him to help them find innovative ways to address the problems confronting Freddie Mac, said an official familiar with the company’s internal dynamics.

The former speaker attended brainstorming sessions with Freddie Mac’s management. He didn’t produce a white paper or any other document the firm could use on its behalf.

Impressive! Gingrich was expected to provide written material, but whatever that was, it wasn’t substantial enough to even be called a white paper. All he did, apparently, was shoot the breeze with company brass, schmooze donors to Freddie’s PAC, and give a speech or two. For that he got paid $300,000.

That’s some pretty lucrative historical advice, no? Where do I sign up for this kind of payday?

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You just sent an incredible message: that quality journalism doesn't have to answer to advertisers, billionaires, or hedge funds; that newsrooms can eke out an existence thanks primarily to the generosity of its readers. That's so powerful. Especially during what's been called a "media extinction event" when those looking to make a profit from the news pull back, the Mother Jones community steps in.

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