Newt Gingrich hit out at NBC's Brian Williams on Tuesday morning, criticizing the moderator of Monday night's debate for keeping the forum's audience quiet.
The crowd, which has been one of the stars of the never-ending series of GOP debates for months, was notably muted on Monday, under strict instructions from Williams not to interfere. Perhaps he was thinking of the last time he hosted a debate, when audience members cheered after he questioned Rick Perry about the number of executions his state had carried out.
While there were some moments of scattered applause on Monday, the candidates were mostly sending their zingers into dead air -- and Gingrich, who loves to play to the audience, was robbed of another standing ovation from the crowd.
Speaking on Tuesday's "Fox and Friends," Gingrich said that NBC and Williams had made a bad choice.
"I wish in retrospect I had protested when Brian Williams took them out of it because I think it's wrong," he said. "And I think he took them out of it because the media is terrified that they're going to side with the candidates against the media."
Gingrich added that, in upcoming debates, he was "simply not going to allow" the moderators to silence the audience.
"The media doesn't control free speech," he said.
UPDATE: CNN, which has held some of the most raucous debates of all the networks, told HuffPost's Michael Calderone that the reaction to NBC's debate rules has not changed its plans about the forum it is hosting on Thursday night.
"As we have done in the past, CNN will ask the audience to be respectful of the candidates," the network said in a statement. "We have always said that if audience reaction such as shouting or booing interferes with the debate or with the candidates’ answers, we will ask the audience to refrain."
Some of the most controversial moments from the GOP debates.
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