We all know that the honorless George Will recently authored a knowingly false hit-piece against Senator-elect Jim Webb which appeared in the Washington Post. As per the talking points developed by the right-wing noise machine in an attempt to smear Webb, Will labeled Webb a "boor" because Webb refused to bow down and tremble in the presence of Glorious Leader. Scandalous!
It's important to set the record straight. Will falsified the story by purposely omitting the parts that made it clear Bush is either a clueless idiot or a sadistic asshole. (FYI, I say he's both.) Readers of the Washington Post and the blogosphere en masse came down hard and fast on Will, like I wheelbarrow full of bricks on a cockroach.
Further, I wanted to make sure we all know exactly who is a BOOR, who is a LIAR and an unrepentent CHEATER, and who DISRESPECTED a PRESIDENT by using that President's STOLEN PRIVATE PAPERS to help Ronald Reagon cheat in a debate against him. And when caught, said, bascially, so what screw you?
That boor, liar, cheater and theif is George Will.
As much as I follow politics in the last few years, this event escaped my notice until I heard President Carter discuss it in an interview with Charlie Rose.
During the 1980 campaign, he [George Will] drew fire when it was learned he'd secretly coached Republican candidate Ronald Reagan for a debate with President Jimmy Carter using a debate briefing book stolen from the Carter campaign. Immediately following the debate, Will appeared on Nightline (10/28/80) to praise Reagan's "thoroughbred performance," never disclosing his role in rehearsing that performance (New York Times, 7/9/83). (emphasis added)
In more detail, from the smirkingchimp::
The Carter/Reagan debate, and Will's role in it, changed journalism forever. Will went on national television that year to comment live and "objectively" on Ronald Reagan's debate performance - without disclosing that he was working for the Reagan campaign and had helped Reagan prepare for that very debate - using stolen property.
This unethical behavior set a new low for journalistic ethics. What was equally ground-breaking was the fact that, once his behavior was made public, he paid absolutely no professional price for it. No censure, no widespread criticism, no loss of employment.
Here's what's known, and not in question, about Will's behavior in 1980:
He [Geroge Will] was an advisor to the Reagan campaign, and specifically coached Reagan on how to handle the one debate he held with Jimmy Carter.
He appeared on Nightline as part of a panel to review the debate the night after he coached Reagan.
Ted Koppel noted that Will "met with Reagan" the previous day, and said that Will was known to have "affection" for Reagan - but did not disclose he was working for the campaign in a professional capacity. (That's an enormous omission - and Koppel appears to have helped "spin" the "disclosure" in Will's favor.)
Will, Reagan, and the rest of the team used a Carter debate briefing book which was clearly stolen property. The result? Reagan's effective "there you go again, Mr. President" routine.
Will praised Reagan highly on Nightline, saying "his game plan worked well." (Viewers didn't know at the time that this "game plan" was Will's own creation.) (emphasis added)
And now I will give Mr. Will the courtesy he did not give Jim Webb. I will allow Mr. Will to share his side of the story.
From Will's Thursday, August 11, 2005 WaPo column, "Briefing Book Baloney" (wherein he calls President Carter a serial liar):
That last accusation, for which there is no evidence, is, as he [President Carter] has been told, false. But he is a recidivist fibber. Last Oct. 21, on National Public Radio, he said: "We found out later that one of Ronald Reagan's supporters inside the White House had stolen my briefing book, my top-secret briefing book that prepared me for the debate. And a very prominent news reporter was the one who took the briefing book to Ronald Reagan and helped drill him on the things that I might say if he said certain things." Asked who that reporter was, Carter replied, "It was George Will, and it was later known that he did that."
But one cannot know what isn't so, and "top secret" is a government classification inapplicable to campaign fodder. Still, Carter continues to retail -- and to embroider -- his fable. ...
[Will's responsive letter to Carter:]
"Regarding your briefing book, I will tell you what I have told many others. When I got to David Stockman's house on the day he was preparing to play the role of you in the debate preparations, he had on his kitchen table what I gather was the briefing book. I do not know how he got it; more to the point, I do not know who thought having it would be helpful. Frankly, you deserved better. My cursory glance at it convinced me that it was a crashing bore and next to useless -- for you, or for anyone else."
Even though, as a columnist, my support for Reagan was well-known, my participation in his debate preparation was as inappropriate as it was superfluous -- after three decades of public advocacy, Reagan was ready . And speaking of the inappropriate:
The role of ex-president requires a grace and restraint notably absent from Carter. See, for example, his criticism of the United States when he is abroad, as in England two weeks ago. Having made such disappointing history as president, Carter as ex-president should at least refrain from disseminating a historical falsehood.
Did you catch that?
Will admits he had knowledge that his team, the Reagan team, was working from a briefing book they knew was stolen from President Carter. Will says, in essence, that he glanced through it, thought it was crap and useless, and therefore they did nothing wrong.
Will admits his secret role in briefing Reagan was inappropriate, but Reagan was already so great that no amount of help could have improved him and therefore, Will did nothing wrong.
Will attempts to dismis the secet nature of the briefing book by calling it "campaign fodder" and therefore not technically a secret government document. (This is so lame I think I may hurl. Private papers are private, asshole.)
No harm (as determined by Will himself), so no foul (as determined by Will himself.)
What a shameful and disrepectful way to treat the PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES, THEN AND NOW.
Here's the esscene of Will's position:
Yeah I used your damn stolen private breifing book! Number one - it sucked, and number two, we would have won anyway, so screw you. Oh, and I'm going to call you a liar with gleeful impunity because I'm a dick and I can get away with it. Bite me, Mr. President.
What. an. asshole.
Not to mention the fact that George W. Bush has taken the meaning of the phrase "Having made such disappointing history as president" to a whole new dimension.
For posterity, here is a rather comprehensive and completely damning compendium on the lies and other unethcial behavior of George Will: "The Hypocrisy of George Will, Pundit's double standards, ethical lapses seldom noted" by Steve Rendall. (Bailing out on your wife and kids? What a wanker. )
A nugget from the Rendall article:
Will suffered another ethical lapse in the 2000 campaign when he met with George W. Bush just before the Republican candidate was to appear on ABC's This Week. Later, in a column (Washington Post, 3/4/01), Will admitted that he'd met with Bush to preview questions, not wanting to "ambush him with unfamiliar material." In the meeting, Will provided Bush with a 3-by-5 card containing a crucial question he would later ask the candidate on the air. Though strongly resembling his coaching of candidate Reagan in 1980, and in strong contrast to his treatment of Jesse Jackson in 1988, this extraordinary admission received little media mention. (emphasis added)
Take a breeze through the Rendall article keep it in your back pocket for the next time we need to smack this unethical scumbag down. He has been getting away with it for far too long.
MINI-UPDATE: For whatever good it will do, you can contact the Washington Post's ombudsman at firstname.lastname@example.org.