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Monday, May 16, 2011
NewsBusters Misleads About George Will's Aid to Reagan
Topic: NewsBusters

In an addendum to a May 13 NewsBusters post by Matt Hadro having a cow over Fareed Zakaria's disclosure that he has advised President Obama on foreign policy, Lachlan Markay complains that there's "a pretty notable double standard at work here in the rest of the news media's silence on Zakaria's conflict of interest." He writes:

Similarly, there was significant media backlash when it was revealed that columnist George Will had advised Ronald Reagan on debate tactics during the 1980 presidential campaign. As Katrina vanden Heuvel, editor of the far-left Nation magazine, recalled, "a Los Angeles Times media critic called Will 'a political shill,' Chicago columnist Mike Rokyo called him a 'lapdog,' and the New York Daily News kicked him off their editorial pages (though it reinstated him too soon after)." (It should be noted that, contrary to vanden Heuvel's suggestion, Will's role in Reagan's campaign "was well known, and readers could take Will's views into account," as USA Today's Philip Meyer noted.)

In fact, it appears that Will did not disclose the full extent of his debate work for Reagan at the time. Here is what Wikipedia says about it:

Immediately after the debate, Will—not yet a member of the ABC News staff—appeared on ABC's Nightline. He was introduced by host Ted Koppel, who said "It's my understanding that you met for some time yesterday with Governor Reagan," and that Will "never made any secret of his affection" for the Republican candidate. Will did not explicitly disclose that he had assisted Reagan's debate preparation, or been present during it. He went on to praise Reagan, saying his "game plan worked well. I don't think he was very surprised."

Will did not disclose everything he needed to at the time, and even Will himself has admitted that "my participation in his debate preparation was as inappropriate as it was superfluous."

If Markay can show us where he or any Media Research Center employee criticized Will (or, for that matter, Fox News chief Roger Ailes for writing a letter to Karl Rove with post-9/11 political advice) for his unethical behavior, he would have a better case for whining about alleged conflicts of interest.


Posted by Terry K. at 10:23 AM EDT

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