George Will relies on falsehoods to call Blumenthal a serial liar

Blog ››› ››› JEREMY HOLDEN

On ABC's This Week, George Will accused Connecticut Senate candidate Richard Blumenthal of being a serial liar, a charge Will rested on the demonstrably false claim that Blumenthal misrepresented his record during a January interview by stating that he had not previously taken campaign contributions from a political action committee. Will pointed to "$220,000 in PAC money" he said Blumenthal has received during this campaign cycle as evidence of Blumenthal's mendacity. But according to campaign contribution records, Blumenthal's first contribution from a political action committee came nearly a month after his MSNBC interview, where he clearly discussed his policy toward PAC money while campaigning for state attorney general.

Discussing a controversial New York Times article that misleadingly presented Blumenthal's characterization of his military record, Will purported to illustrate Blumenthal's "serial problem" with being truthful:

How do you explain the fact that he evidently told the Hartford Courant that he was the captain of a Harvard swim team when he was never on the swim team? How do you explain the fact that he goes on Morning Joe, goes on MSNBC and says I have never taken PAC money, when he really meant in previous campaigns because in this campaign, evidently, he's taken $220,000 of PAC money. This is a serial problem.

Will's suggestion is an apparent reference to an interview Blumenthal gave MSNBC on January 7, stating, "I've never taken PAC money, and I have rejected all special interest money, because I have stood strong and taken legal action against many of those special interests." And indeed, according to Federal Election Commission records, Blumenthal had received no contributions from any PACs at that time. Blumenthal himself reportedly addressed questions about subsequent contributions to his campaign. An April 27 Fairfield Weekly article reported :

Another factor that discouraged him from running for governor, Blumenthal says, was that he had four young children. "Of all the things I've done in my life, I'm proudest of my family," he says. Now, Blumenthal's eldest son is in the Marines and the others are in college or about to finish high school, a situation he believes gives him far more leeway to make a major political move.

For that move, Blumenthal is going to need every freaking penny he can find.

He's already gotten in some hot water by departing from his long-running campaign practice of spurning money from political action committees. A Federal Elections Commission report filed last week showed Blumenthal has taken in more than $223,000 in PAC dollars so far from insurance companies like Aflac and the Phoenix Companies Inc., as well as PACs formed by labor groups that include the American Postal Workers Union.

"I said I hadn't taken any PAC money [for those A.G. campaigns]," Blumenthal says of a January TV interview when he was asked about that policy. "I didn't say I wouldn't take any."

Blumenthal argues that, as attorney general, there was the likelihood he would be "going to court and potentially confronting PACs or the interests they represent." The best way to avoid any conflict, he says, was to not take those special-interest contributions.

He says his role as a U.S. senator would be very different, with the focus on making law rather than prosecuting lawsuits. "There is no way any contribution, individual or PAC, is going to influence what I do as a U.S. senator."

Will gave no indication how contributions to his campaign made weeks later rendered Blumenthal's January comments indicative of any tendency to lie.

Will further cited the falsehood that Blumenthal fabricated his position on the Harvard swim team as evidence of a "serial problem" with the truth. In fact, a former captain of the Harvard swim team reportedly confirmed to the Hartford Courant that Blumenthal was a member, and Will gave no evidence to support his contention that Blumenthal ever "told" the Courant that he was a captain of the team. In correcting an earlier profile that identified Blumenthal as swim team captain, the Courant itself gave no indication that Blumenthal ever said he was captain.

The only serial problem on display is George Will's reliance on falsehoods to make his case.

George F. Will
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