Correcting The Record: Newt Gingrich Didn’t Divorce His First Wife While She Had Cancer
It’s become both the butt of jokes and the reason for criticism that Newt Gingrich informed his first wife that he wanted a divorce while she was in the hospital being treated for cancer. Now, we have a first hand account from one of Gingrich’s daughters that this is untrue:
For years, I have thought about trying to correct the untrue accounts of this hospital visit. After all, I was at the hospital with them, and saw and heard what happened. But I have always hesitated, as it was a private family matter and my mother is a very private person. In addition, for the four people involved, it was one of a million interactions and was not considered a defining event by any of us.
My mother and I have both recently run into quite a few people who hold an inaccurate understanding of this hospital visit. Many think my mother is dead.
So, to correct the record, here is what happened: My mother, Jackie Battley Gingrich, is very much alive, and often spends time with my family. I am lucky to have such a “Miracle Mom,” as I titled her in a column this week.
As for my parents’ divorce, I can remember when they told me.
It was the spring of 1980.
I was 13 years old, and we were about to leave Fairfax, Va., and drive to Carrollton, Ga., for the summer. My parents told my sister and me that they were getting a divorce as our family of four sat around the kitchen table of our ranch home.
Soon afterward, my mom, sister and I got into our light-blue Chevrolet Impala and drove back to Carrollton.
Later that summer, Mom went to Emory University Hospital in Atlanta for surgery to remove a tumor. While she was there, Dad took my sister and me to see her.
It is this visit that has turned into the infamous hospital visit about which many untruths have been told. I won’t repeat them. You can look them up online if you are interested in untruths. But here’s what happened:
My mother and father were already in the process of getting a divorce, which she requested.
Dad took my sister and me to the hospital to see our mother.
She had undergone surgery the day before to remove a tumor.
The tumor was benign.
As with many divorces, it was hard and painful for all involved, but life continued.
Like many others, I repeated this story because I’d heard it from others. As with many things on the Internet, it turns out the story was untrue. This doesn’t change my opinion of Newt Gingrich all that much, but the guy doesn’t deserve to have this kind of untruth spread about him.
H/T: Andrew Sullivan