Your Daily Newt: Touched by an Angel > Ellen

Former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich (left) and Ellen Degeneres.<a href="">Gage Skidmore</a>/Wikimedia Commons; <a href="">Allen Light</a>/Flickr

As a service to our readers, every day we are delivering a classic moment from the political life of Newt Gingrich—until he either clinches the nomination or bows out.

Conservative activists are freaking out over J.C. Penney’s decision to hire Ellen Degeneres to shill for its products. This is because Ellen, star of the now-dormant eponymous sitcom and host of the still-active eponymous talk show, is openly-gay. By endorsing a popular line of clothing, her sexual orientation will now ooze into the very fabric of our society. So to speak. 

Newt Gingrich hasn’t called for a J.C. Penney boycott. But he has been less than boosterish on Ellen’s public profile. As the New York Daily News reported in 1997, when Degeneres came out on her show that year, Gingrich’s response was to double-down on his call for major television networks to rededicate themselves to family friendly programming:

House Speaker Newt Gingrich (R-Ga.), whose half-sister Candace is gay, said he’s miffed the media celebrates the star of “Ellen” for revealing she’s a lesbian while ignoring family shows like “Touched by an Angel.”

Asked yesterday what he thought about the Ellen-is-gay hoopla, the Gingrich responded, “I didn’t think much about it.”

“I think that this is a commentary largely on Hollywood and on the people who define what’s big,” Gingrich griped on NBC’s “Meet the Press.”

“If you watch the next five nights of all the networks . . . How many times will a person deal with a serious spiritual question . . . as opposed to what hedonism to engage in next or how shallow and trivial can life be?” he asked.

Gingrich seemed to go out of his way not to mention the name of Ellen DeGeneres’ ABC sitcom, calling it “the TV show which happened to end up on the cover of a magazine.”

He is pushing the networks to devote the 8-to-9 p.m. time slot to family programing.

One week earlier, Gingrich and more than a hundred other members of Congress had taken out a full-page ad in Variety asking executives at the six leading broadcast networks to dedicate the 8 p.m. hour to family friendly programming: “Is it too much to ask Hollywood to voluntarily set aside one hour for families?”