12/12/2011 08:38 am ET Updated Feb 11, 2012

Chris Matthews: Newt Gingrich's Fox News Appearances Helping Him In 2012 Race (VIDEO)

Chris Matthews speculated that Newt Gingrich is surging in popularity partially because of his omnipresence on Fox News.

Speaking on his Sunday talk show, Matthews played a clip of Joe Scarborough talking about Gingrich's frequent appearances on the network and said he agreed with the assessment. (Iowa voters who frequently watch Fox News have said in polls that they strongly prefer Gingrich.)

Gingrich, who has become the frontrunner in the Republican presidential race, was a paid analyst for Fox News for years before the network severed ties with him in May.

Matthews, who has reveled in rather extreme characterizations of Gingrich, confined himself to a more restrained analysis of the man's relationship to Fox News viewers. After playing a clip of Gingrich on the network, he said, "he doesn't have to fight with anybody in particular, just speak his intellectual firepower there."

Matthews theorized that "hard-working guys and women come home in Iowa and places like that after they go to work, they don't watch entertainment shows, 'American Idol,' they watch the hard-nosed, right-wing stuff. Newt's on as one of their advisors. That's pretty intimate."

(Via Newsbusters)

Background on Gingrich:

Newt Gingrich 2012