Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Your winnings, sir

Stop press! The WashPost ombud is going to get to the bottom of those shocking allegations that George Will might be hiding a secret political bias or three amid the hard-hitting analytical impartiality of his column!

The Post’s prickly, Pulitzer Prize-winning, conservative columnist George F. Will is one-half of a Washington political power couple. His wife, Mari Maseng Will, is a longtime Republican operative who was President Reagan’s final communications director and performed the same role for Bob Dole’s 1996 presidential campaign.

The couple, over the years, has been splashed by the sometimes stinging but purifying hot waters of transparency and disclosure, especially as those waters flow by their two careers and their closeness to senior Republicans.

Those purifying hot waters of transparency! Anyway:

... So it was not surprising that Politico revealed in three stories Nov. 11 that Maseng Will worked for Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.) early this year, flirted with Mitt Romney’s campaign in June and was hired full time by Texas Gov. Rick Perry early this month.

Should Will have disclosed it, and did he give favorable treatment to these GOP candidates?

Well, sure. If he wanted to be taken seriously as a reliable commenter on American campaigns and politics, it would probably help to disclose apparent conflicts of interest. (And the 1980 debate season would have been a good time to start, but there you go.) But that's not what George Will does. Why ask him to start now, when everyone is having such a good time?

One hates to bring up too many familiar refrains here, but if the ombud wants to do something useful, he could stop straining at gnats -- how hard Will attacked which Republican on which date, and how that correlates with Will's wife's professional calendar -- and take on a camel or two. George Will makes stuff up. Worse, he makes stuff up and publishes it on your op-ed page, where people who don't know better risk mistaking it for professionally vetted journalism.

I don't think anyone wants a world in which the ombud or the public editor takes opinion writers to task for their opinions. It'd be nice to see one rise up and challenge a columnist on the evidence, though.



Blogger The Ridger, FCD said...

Exactly. Not to mention that it's pretty hard to read Will and not realize his biases (which he's perfectly free to have, he's an op-ed columnist, that's what they do). He uses his column to advance some agenda? Surprise!

As you say, the main thing is that he advances that agenda (however much it shifts slightly from politician to politician) by lying. That's not what columnists in reputable papers are supposed to do, at least not without a note from the editor.

8:19 AM, November 24, 2011  

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