Sunday, November 13, 2011

Why George F. Will Flip Flopped On Mitt Romney

 George F. Will raised a lot of eyebrows a few weeks ago when he attacked Mitt Romney in a Washington Post article "Mitt Romney, The Pretzel Candidate" in which he rehashed the common accusation that Mitt Romney is a flip flopper. 
However, Ramesh Ponnuru, writing for the National Republican points out the hypocrisy of George Will's attack on Mitt Romney:
Another take on Romney:
The axiom is as old as human striving: The perfect is the enemy of the good. In politics this means that insisting on perfection in a candidate interferes with selecting a satisfactory one. . . .
Romney, however, is criticized by many conservatives for what they consider multiple conversions of convenience — on abortion, stem cell research, gay rights, gun control. But if Romney is now locked into positions that these conservatives like, why do they care so much about whether political calculation or moral epiphany moved him there?
The headline was “Three Good Options for The Right,” the date was March 2007, and the byline was, of course, that of George F. Will. Romney’s biggest flip-flops all preceded that column. I can think of many reasons why Will might have, er, flip-flopped on Romney’s flip-flops, but it would be interesting to know what it was.
We now know why George Will flip-flopped on Romney's flip-flops.
It may have to do with the fact that his wife works for the Perry Campaign:
Columnist George Will's wife recently signed on as an adviser to Texas governor Rick Perry, a campaign spokesman confirmed today.

Will's wife, Mari Maseng -- a former communications director to both Ronald Reagan and Bob Dole -- started working for the campaign more than a week ago and helped Perry prepare for his most recent disastrous debate performance. Will, who has made no secret of his distaste for Perry rival Mitt Romney, plans to disclose the connection this Sunday on ABC and in future Washington Post columns, according to Post editor Fred Hiatt.

Journalist’s spouses are often a touchy issue. Last month, NPR host Michele Norris took temporary leave from her job because her husband Broderick Johnson accepted a senior advisor position with the Obama campaign.

“There was no relationship between his wife and any campaign the last time he wrote a column on the campaign, or any aspect of the campaign,” Hiatt said. “This developed after the last column that was two weeks ago. He has never written a column while there was a relationship between his wife and the campaign.”

Will has however had multiple columns within the last two weeks. His most recent column for the Post was published online November 9 and in print November 10. A column about the GOP debates was published online November 4 (in print November 6), and a column that disparaged Romney as “the pretzel candidate” was published online October 28 (in print October 30).
Another possible reasons for the attacks on Mitt Romney may have to do with retribution for the fact that the Romney Campaign didn't hire his wife when she applied to work for Mitt team:
Columnist George Will’s wife, Mari Maseng, has offered her services as an adviser to three candidates this election season.

In addition to her current work for the Perry campaign and her earlier work for the Bachmann campaign, a source knowledgeable of the situation tells us that Maseng sought out a role with the Romney campaign in June.

On June 28, Maseng went to Boston and met with multiple, “high-level officials” in the Romney campaign about joining on as an adviser. No formal offer was ever made, according to the source.

In his work as a columnist for the Washington Post and a regular contributor to ABC News, Will has not disclosed the fact that his wife was turned down by the Romney campaign, nor that she worked on Bachmann’s speechwriting team between February and May.
Every profession has ethical rules and guidelines that they must follow. I don't know what exactly what the rules are for journalists but it appears to me that George F. Will has difficulty maintaining following whatever these rules might be since this isn't the first time he's engaged in questionable journalist conduct:
Similar issues arose before for Will and Maseng before. During a presidential debate in 1980, Will helped Ronald Reagan prepare beforehand then criticized his opponent, Jimmy Carter, as a television commentator afterward. In 1996, Will called a Clinton speech "American political flapdoodle” then defended Dole’s response—which he helped write, according to a 1996 article in The Washingtonian—on ABC.
However, given the fact that he appears to be ethically challenged as a journalist, he should either be removed or suspended from reporting on political news and events. Perhaps he should be fired. I don't know. Yet, this I do know: disclosing his wife's relationship with the Perry campaign and her rejection from the Romney Campaign now rather than before shouldn't excuse his lapses in ethical journalism.

UPDATE: Here is George F. Will's response to this controversy: 
Will, also a regular analyst on ABC's "This Week," said Sunday on the show the issue was ginned up by “some of the more excitable and less mature members of the Romney campaign.”
“At the Michigan debate, after the debate, Mari waved her hand at Mitt Romney, and they came over and talked,” Will said. “They’ve been guests at our dinner table and Romney gave her a kiss on the cheek and they moved their separate ways. They’re both mature professionals."
This article was cross-posted from Conservative Samizdat

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Paul said...

Wow. I was bewildered before, but now this makes sense. George Will's flip-flopping smelled so slimy at the time.....And I had always considered him with respect. But not anymore. Even if this story and explanation had not come out, it was none-the-less inexplicable and inexcusable what Will did. I mean, such an about-face regarding Romney, with no new material presented by Will to justify it.

Terrye said...

Will is kind of snake really....look at the way he treated Bush.

I do think most people are supposed to make a point of mentioning their spouse's work when it might present a conflict.

Nina Easton's husband works on the Romney campaign..I know that because she has said so on several occasions when she was giving analysis. So why didn't Will do the same thing?

Pablo said...

Yes, this is indeed an outrage. But there will be nobody in the conservative media who will speak up against it. When Fox News blasts the journalistic integrity of the mainstream media, they are not standing up for journalism. It is a marketing tool to get conservatives to only watch Fox News. They would never blast one of their own, like George Will, lest they offend their audience. Plus, they agree with what Will said anyway. Rush, Hannity, and Fox will say nothing about Will because they agree with him.