Historians Savor Gingrich's Rich History Lesson: The Ticker

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By Francis Wilkinson

Republican presidential candidate Newt Gingrich said during a Nov. 9 debate that he had earned a $300,000 fee advising Freddie Mac as a “historian.” Bloomberg News this week reported that Gingrich was actually paid between $1.6 million and $1.8 million for providing the kind of rich context (with footnotes?) that clients expect of a leading K Street historian.

We checked in with a few working historians to see what they think of the handsome fees Gingrich earned thanks to his Ph.D in history.

Stephen Hess,

Senior Fellow Emeritus, Brookings Institution

All hail Newt Gingrich, Fellow Historian, who may single-handedly make us all richer (and happier), if what he received for historical insights becomes precedent in the profession (more if he also becomes president?). I guess I now have an added financial interest in the Republican contest and will reevaluate my preferences.


Mary Beth Norton

Mary Donlon Alger Professor of American History, Cornell University

"Maybe we all should read Gringrich's Ph.D dissertation, given his recent rise in the polls, just as we all read `Dreams from My Father'."


David Greenberg

Associate Professor of History, Journalism & Media Studies,  Rutgers University

We had a historian as president once, Woodrow Wilson -- one of the greatest who ever served. Theodore Roosevelt, also one of our greatest presidents, was an accomplished amateur historian and author of many books. If, like these progressive giants, Newt Gingrich could bring about increased regulation of corporations, oversight of the banks, new recognition for labor, a progressive income tax, greater equality for women, and the end of a terrible world war, he just might be worth four years in the Oval Office -- at a cumulative salary of $1.6 million.


Robert Dallek

Presidential Historian

What we need in this current climate of austerity and demand for reduced government programs is a rational discussion of what federal programs have contributed to the national well-being.


Amity Shlaes

Bloomberg View columnist and author of "The Forgotten Man: A New History of the Great Depression"

Historians are not like doctors, who need degrees to practice. Many historians have no doctorate. Until the 20th century, most historians had no doctorate. There are bad historians with doctorates, and bad historians without them.


-0- Nov/17/2011 15:59 GMT