NEW YORK • Mr Newt Gingrich, the former speaker of the US House of Representatives, and Fox News anchor Megyn Kelly got into a televised tiff in which he accused her of being "fascinated with sex" for her reporting on groping allegations against Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump.
The bizarre exchange played out towards the end of an interview on Ms Kelly's news programme The Kelly File on Tuesday night. The discussion turned from who was ahead in the polls - Mr Trump or Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton - when Mr Gingrich, a Republican and staunch supporter of Mr Trump, accused Ms Kelly and the news media of paying a disproportionate amount of attention to allegations by women that Mr Trump had forcibly kissed or groped them.
Mr Gingrich questioned why a speech Mrs Clinton had given in Brazil to a bank that had paid her US$225,000 (S$312,800) was not also worthy of coverage.
"You are fascinated with sex, and you don't care about public policy," he told Ms Kelly.
Ms Kelly: "Me? Really?"
Mr Gingrich: "That's what I get out of watching you tonight."
Ms Kelly: "You know what, Mr Speaker, I'm not fascinated by sex, but I am fascinated by the protection of women and understanding what we're getting in the Oval Office, and I think the American voters would like to know..."
Mr Gingrich then began to talk about how Mrs Clinton's husband, former president Bill Clinton, would return to the White House "because you, after all, are worried about sexual predators", an apparent allusion to Mr Clinton's affair with a White House intern, Ms Monica Lewinsky.
"Listen, it's not about me. It's about the women and men of America," Ms Kelly replied. She said polls showed voters were concerned about the allegations against Mr Trump and believed they were an issue.
Mr Gingrich turned to baiting Ms Kelly. "Do you want to comment on whether the Clinton ticket has a relationship to a sexual predator?... I just want to hear you use the words, 'Bill Clinton, sexual predator'. I dare you. Say, 'Bill Clinton, sexual predator'."
"He's not on the ticket," she said, referring to Mr Clinton. "The polls also show the American public is less interested in the deeds of Hillary Clinton's husband than they are in the deeds of the man who asks us to make him president, Donald Trump."