Jan
20
2012

Joe Klein Notices Newt Stole His Kid Janitor Idea

Time columnist Joe Klein jumped to Newt Gingrich's defense (12/19/11) when the Republican presidential candidate floated the idea that poor school children should work as janitors at their schools. Klein's endorsement (FAIR Blog, 12/9/11) earned him a coveted P.U. Litzer Prize. But apparently there's more to it.

As Klein explains in this week's issue of Time (in an article that bears a title "Racial Slant Aside, Newt's Poverty Plan Could Work"), "When you strip away the racial appeals, though, Gingrich proposes some very creative ways to address poverty and dependency."

He added:

And yes, as Newt suggested, that last idea did come from me–although I put a slightly different twist on it.

I first made the suggestion in 1991, after the New York City janitors negotiated a gaudy contract that required them to mop the cafeteria floor only once a week.

The difference, apparently, is that Klein wanted to see "students and their parents help keep the schools clean," and "not just poor students–all students, even those attending the city's elite high schools. It was a form of public service, intended to build a sense of responsibility and community in students of every income level."

Well, at least Gingrich was going to pay the kids.

How about expanding the idea further, though: Why not let high school students take turns writing a column for a national news magazine? It'd be a nice form of public service. And consider the benefit to Time readers.

About Peter Hart

Activism Director and and Co-producer of CounterSpinPeter Hart is the activism director at FAIR. He writes for FAIR's magazine Extra! and is also a co-host and producer of FAIR's syndicated radio show CounterSpin. He is the author of The Oh Really? Factor: Unspinning Fox News Channel's Bill O'Reilly (Seven Stories Press, 2003). Hart has been interviewed by a number of media outlets, including NBC Nightly News, Fox News Channel's O'Reilly Factor, the Los Angeles Times, Newsday and the Associated Press. He has also appeared on Showtime and in the movie Outfoxed. Follow Peter on Twitter at @peterfhart.