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UPDATE: Newt Gingrich's team is denying that the GOP hopeful walked out of a scheduled interview with a student reporter over the weekend, saying instead that the student's less-than-professional demeanor caused campaign staff to step in.
Gingrich staffer Andrew Bell tells the Washington Post that he had planned to give UNC student Memet Walker a few moments during a so-called "walk-and-talk" to ask the former House speaker a few questions, but that Walker "began to yell at Newt" while being introduced. That, according to Bell, came after Walker shouted a question at the end of an earlier press gaggle with local reporters.
"I was hoping he'd be a bit more respectful," Bell said.
Gingrich spokesman R.C. Hammond offered a similar, although slightly different, version of events to ABC News, telling the network that Walker was told he "was done" after the first incident.
For his part, the UNC student is sticking to his version of events. "I was very calm," he told the Post. "I definitely wasn’t shouting. I said eight words before they cut me off. I was talking the way I’m talking to you right now." (Softly, that is.)
Monday, April 16: Newt Gingrich appeared to take his aggressive posturing with the media to new levels this past weekend, reportedly walking out of a scheduled interview with a student reporter without answering a single question.
The former House speaker and current (yes, still) GOP hopeful cut off the interview after being asked an opening question about his relationship with former employer Fox News, which Gingrich blasted last week for purposefully tilting the nomination battle in favor of Mitt Romney.
As the Hill points out, those comments prompted Fox News President Roger Ailes to return fire, saying his former employee was merely "trying to get a job at CNN because he knows he isn't going to get to come back to Fox News."
Given that back-and-forth, it wasn't exactly a surprise that Memet Walker, a student reporter at the University of North Carolina's Daily Tar Heel, decided to pose a question about the ongoing spat at the outset of his interview with Gingrich at a Tea Party rally in Greensboro, N.C., on Saturday. But, according to Walker, before he could even finish the question, an aide jumped in to say: "You're not asking that. You're done."
Walker details the interview-that-wasn't in an article that went live Sunday: "[Gingrich’s] aide gave no preconditions; no topics were off limits. That’s why I was so surprised when, before I had finished asking my first question, that same aide cut the interview short and prompted Secret Service to grab and briefly detain me as the former speaker was led away."
The first-person recap continues: "At my other job at a grocery store, my hardest-hitting question is usually, 'Paper or plastic?' ... Next time, I’ll just follow my instincts and ask about the moon colony."