George Will

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  • George Will: Republicans Must Keep Trump Out Of The White House Even If He's The Nominee

    Blog ››› ››› MEDIA MATTERS STAFF

    Washington Post columnist and Fox News contributor George Will urged Republicans to keep Donald Trump out of the White House if he is selected as the Republican nominee for president, writing that political prudence “demands the prevention of a Trump presidency.”

    Many right-wing media pundits and commentators have expressed their fear of a Trump nomination, with some joining the so-called “Never Trump” movement. Those conservative have vowed that they would actively oppose Trump even if he became the nominee, with some like Weekly Standard’s Bill Kristol vowing to recruit a third-party candidate to run against Trump, and others stating they would vote for Hillary Clinton instead of Trump if she becomes the Democratic nominee.

    In his April 29 Washington Post column headlined “If Trump is nominated, the GOP must keep him out of the White House,” Will committed himself to this movement, arguing that the GOP needs to be rebuilt from the damage Trump has done to the party, and urging voters to support Cruz so that the Republican convention can “choose a plausible nominee” who might win a general election, instead of “passively affirm[ing] the will of a mere plurality of voters.” If Trump becomes the Republican nominee for president, Will wrote, conservatives have the task of “help[ing] him lose 50 states” so the GOP can preserve its identity:

    Donald Trump’s damage to the Republican Party, although already extensive, has barely begun. Republican quislings will multiply, slinking into support of the most anti-conservative presidential aspirant in their party’s history. These collaborationists will render themselves ineligible to participate in the party’s reconstruction.

    […]

    Republican voters, particularly in Indiana and California, can, by supporting Cruz, make the Republican convention a deliberative body rather than one that merely ratifies decisions made elsewhere, some of them six months earlier. A convention’s sovereign duty is to choose a plausible nominee who has a reasonable chance to win, not to passively affirm the will of a mere plurality of voters recorded episodically in a protracted process.

    Trump would be the most unpopular nominee ever, unable to even come close to Mitt Romney’s insufficient support among women, minorities and young people. In losing disastrously, Trump probably would create down-ballot carnage sufficient to end even Republican control of the House.

    […]

    The minority of people who pay close attention to politics includes those who define an ideal political outcome and pursue it, and those who focus on the worst possible outcome and strive to avoid it. The former experience the excitements of utopianism, the latter settle for prudence’s mild pleasure of avoiding disappointed dreams. Both sensibilities have their uses, but this is a time for prudence, which demands the prevention of a Trump presidency.

    Were he to be nominated, conservatives would have two tasks. One would be to help him lose 50 states — condign punishment for his comprehensive disdain for conservative essentials, including the manners and grace that should lubricate the nation’s civic life.

    […]

    If Trump is nominated, Republicans working to purge him and his manner from public life will reap the considerable satisfaction of preserving the identity of their 162-year-old party while working to see that they forgo only four years of the enjoyment of executive power.

  • Right-Wing Media's Worst Attempts to Downplay Sexual Assault and Diminish Survivors

    ››› ››› DAYANITA RAMESH

    For Sexual Assault Awareness month, Media Matters looks back at right-wing media's history of downplaying, and questioning the legitimacy of, sexual assault. Right-wing media figures have called reporting statutory rape “whiny,” claimed sexual assault victims have a "coveted status," said the sexual assault epidemic is "not happening," blamed feminism for encouraging sexual assault, and said attempts to curb sexual assault constitute "a war happening on boys."

  • George Will Dismisses GOP Obstruction Of Merrick Garland As "A Partisan Reflex In Search Of A Justifying Principle"

    Blog ››› ››› MEDIA MATTERS STAFF

    Conservative columnist George Will dismissed the varying excuses Republican senators have made to justify their refusal to consider President Obama's nomination of Judge Merrick Garland to the Supreme Court as "radiating insincerity."

    Leading up to and following President Obama's March 16 Supreme Court nomination of Garland, the chief judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia, Republican lawmakers have said they would refuse to consider any nominee, despite it being an unprecedented action. Republican lawmakers, echoed by some of the media, have misleadingly cited past actions and comments by President Obama and Vice President Biden as justification for their obstruction.

    In his March 18 Washington Post column, Will blasted the Republicans' justifications for refusing to consider Garland, writing that their "incoherent response" is "a partisan reflex in search of a justifying principle." Will added that the "multiplicity of Republican rationalizations for their refusal to even consider Merrick B. Garland radiates insincerity":

    The Republican Party's incoherent response to the Supreme Court vacancy is a partisan reflex in search of a justifying principle. The multiplicity of Republican rationalizations for their refusal to even consider Merrick B. Garland radiates insincerity.

    Republicans instantly responded to Antonin Scalia's death by proclaiming that no nominee, however admirable in temperament, intellect and experience, would be accorded a hearing. They say their obduracy is right:

    Because they have a right to be obdurate, there being no explicit constitutional proscription against this.

    Or because President Obama's demonstrated contempt for the Constitution's explicit text and for implicit constitutional manners justifies Republicans reciprocating with contempt for his Supreme Court choice, regardless of its merits.

    Or because, 24 years ago, then-Sen. Joe Biden -- he is not often cited by Republicans seeking validation -- suggested that a president's right to nominate judges somehow expires, or becomes attenuated, in a "political season," sometime after the midterm elections during a second presidential term.

    Or because if a Republican president tried to fill a court vacancy during his eighth year, Democrats would behave the way Republicans are behaving.

    In their tossed salad of situational ethics, the Republicans' most contradictory and least conservative self-justification is: The court's supposedly fragile legitimacy is endangered unless the electorate speaks before a vacancy is filled. The preposterous premise is that the court will be "politicized" unless vacancies are left vacant until a political campaign registers public opinion about, say, "Chevron deference."

    This legal doctrine actually is germane to Garland. He is the most important member (chief judge) of the nation's second-most important court, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, the importance of which derives primarily from its caseload of regulatory challenges. There Garland has practiced what too many conservatives have preached -- "deference" in the name of "judicial restraint" toward Congress, and toward the executive branch and its appendages in administering congressional enactments. Named for a 1984 case, Chevron deference unleashes the regulatory state by saying that agencies charged with administering statutes are entitled to deference when they interpret supposedly ambiguous statutory language.

    In his record of deference, Garland resembles two justices nominated by presidents George W. Bush and Ronald Reagan, respectively -- Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. and, even more, Scalia, who seems to be more revered than read by many conservatives. Garland's reluctance to restrict the administrative state's discretion would represent continuity in the chair he would fill.

  • STUDY: How Broadcast Networks Covered Climate Change In 2015

    ››› ››› ANDREW SEIFTER, DENISE ROBBINS & KEVIN KALHOEFER

    ABC, CBS, NBC, and Fox collectively spent five percent less time covering climate change in 2015, even though there were more newsworthy climate-related events than ever before, including the EPA finalizing the Clean Power Plan, Pope Francis issuing a climate change encyclical, President Obama rejecting the Keystone XL pipeline, and 195 countries around the world reaching a historic climate agreement in Paris. The decline was primarily driven by ABC, whose climate coverage dropped by 59 percent; the only network to dramatically increase its climate coverage was Fox, but that increase largely consisted of criticism of efforts to address climate change. When the networks did discuss climate change, they rarely addressed its impacts on national security, the economy, or public health, yet most still found time to provide a forum for climate science denial. On a more positive note, CBS and NBC -- and PBS, which was assessed separately -- aired many segments that explored the state of scientific research or detailed how climate change is affecting extreme weather, plants, and wildlife.

  • Fox vs Fox: GOP Supreme Court Obstruction Edition

    ››› ››› BRENDAN KARET

    Following threats by Senate Republicans that any Supreme Court nominee named by President Obama would not be considered for nomination, Fox News personalities have shown disagreement over the strategy, with some arguing Republicans want Obama to "ignore the Constitution" while others have described any fair hearing given to a potential nominee as "caving" to the president.

  • INFOGRAPHIC: The Conservative Civil War Over Donald Trump

    Blog ››› ››› MEDIA MATTERS STAFF

    Conservative pundits are bickering over Donald Trump's campaign, especially after National Review's "Against Trump" issue and the backlash it engendered. On one side are pundits who want to stop Trump's candidacy in its tracks. On the other are conservatives who are lauding Trump's candidacy, even if they have not officially endorsed him. Media Matters breaks down exactly who is on which side (click for the full-sized image):

    Civil War over Donald Trump

    Graphic by Sarah Wasko, Research by Eric Hananoki
     
  • "Hollywood Asshole": The Celebrities Conservative Media Went After In 2015

    ››› ››› NICK FERNANDEZ & CYDNEY HARGIS

    Right-wing media spent much of 2015 lashing out at celebrities. From seething over celebrities who spoke out against sexism and pay inequality in Hollywood and supported the Black Lives Matter movement, to objectifying female bodies, bashing the Pope, and telling an actress to "deport herself," Media Matters looks back at some of conservative media's most outrageous temper tantrums of 2015:

  • George Will Continues His Attacks On Bill O'Reilly And Killing Reagan

    Will: O'Reilly Is An "Opportunistic Interloper" Who Is "Doubling Down On His Wager That The Truth Cannot Catch Up With Him" On Killing Reagan

    Blog ››› ››› MEDIA MATTERS STAFF

    Washington Post columnist and Fox News contributor George Will is increasing his criticism of his Fox News colleague Bill O'Reilly and his newest book Killing Reagan, detailing the major problems with O'Reilly's claims after the Fox host denounced Will as a hack.

    Will first penned his criticism of O'Reilly's book in a November 5 column in The Washington Post, where he wrote that Killing Reagan will "distort the public's understanding of Reagan's presidency" and questioned the sourcing and authenticity of claims made by O'Reilly, concluding that it was "nonsensical history and execrable citizenship."

    O'Reilly responded on his show that night by calling Will's piece "libel" and challenging him to appear on the show and debate the book. On November 6, the pair sparred on The O'Reilly Factor and O'Reilly called Will a hack and accused Will of "actively misleading the American people."

    On November 10, Will followed up his criticism of O'Reilly's book in a column titled, "Bill O'Reilly makes a mess of history." In the column, Will railed against the premise of O'Reilly's book and described O'Reilly as an interloper, writing:

    Were the lungs the seat of wisdom, Fox News host Bill O'Reilly would be wise, but they are not and he is not. So it is not astonishing that he is doubling down on his wager that the truth cannot catch up with him. It has, however, already done so.

    [...]

    O'Reilly "reports" that the trauma of the assassination attempt was somehow causally related to the "fact" that Reagan was frequently so mentally incompetent that senior aides contemplated using the Constitution's 25th Amendment to remove him from office. But neither O'Reilly nor [co-author Martin] Dugard spoke with any of those aides -- not with Ed Meese, Jim Baker, George Shultz or any of the scores of others who could, and would, have demolished O'Reilly's theory. O'Reilly now airily dismisses them because they "have skin in the game." His is an interesting approach to writing history: Never talk to anyone with firsthand knowledge of your subject.

    [...]

    O'Reilly impales himself on a contradiction: He says his book is "laudatory" about Reagan -- and that it is being attacked by Reagan "guardians" and "loyalists." How odd. Liberals, who have long recognized that to discredit conservatism they must devalue Reagan's presidency, surely are delighted with O'Reilly's assistance. The diaspora of Reagan administration alumni, and the conservative movement, now recognize O'Reilly as an opportunistic interloper

  • New York Magazine: Bill O'Reilly-George Will Feud Reflects "Civil War" Between Fox News Executives

    O'Reilly's Killing Books Reportedly "Considered Something Of A Joke" At Fox News

    Blog ››› ››› ALEX KAPLAN

    New York Magazine's Gabriel Sherman highlighted the ongoing "civil war" between Fox News host Bill O'Reilly and contributor George Will over O'Reilly's newest book, Killing Reagan, in a new report. Sherman interviewed executives at the network who call O'Reilly's books "a joke" and offered insight on a feud between Fox executives Bill Shine and Mike Clemente.

    The recent feud began after Will published a November 5 Washington Post column titled, "Bill O'Reilly slanders Ronald Reagan." In the column, Will called the book "nonsensical history and execrable citizenship," with a "preposterous premise" that "should come with a warning: 'Caution -- you are about to enter a no-facts zone.'"

    O'Reilly responded to Will's column later that night, calling it "libel," and challenged Will to come onto his show and attack him in person - a challenge Will accepted.

    Sherman's November 9 exclusive highlighted the "civil war" currently raging at Fox, noting the distain for O'Reilly and his Killing books and how the rift has strengthened the rivalry between Mike Clemente, who oversees the news division, and Bill Shine, who oversees the prime-time shows. Both are high level executives hoping to replace Fox News Chairman and CEO Roger Ailes. According to Sherman, a Fox executive also commented O'Reilly's Killing series of books are considered "something of a joke inside the network," with the executive saying, "[O'Reilly] certainly doesn't research his books":

    Inside Fox, the O'Reilly-Will feud is being closely studied by executives because it is part of a larger power struggle that's taking place at the highest reaches of the organization. On opposing sides of the fault line are Clemente, who oversees news (where Will works), and executive vice-president Bill Shine, who oversees prime-time shows (where O'Reilly works). Clemente and Shine are vying to replace Ailes and are such bitter rivals that they barely speak, numerous Fox employees say. In August 2014, the rivalry intensified when Ailes put Shine in charge of the Fox Business Network. "This is some Game of Thrones shit," one insider told me. The relationship is so bad that Clemente is not involved at all in preparing for the upcoming GOP debate on Fox Business.

    Shine's loyalists tell me that Clemente did not confer with Shine about Will's anti-O'Reilly column before it was published. Furthermore, they're furious at Clemente for not stopping Will from embarrassing Fox's highest-rated host in the pages of the Post. They reminded me that it was Clemente who recruited Will to Fox from ABC in 2013. One source also explained that Will received a special contributor contract with Fox that grants him editorial independence for his column (other contributors are barred from writing about Fox without permission). "He doesn't have to check with Fox," the source said.

    Clemente did not comment, but his camp is firing back off the record. "Almost everyone is on team George," one said. "Everyone is snickering and thinks it's a riot." Another told me that O'Reilly's Killing series is considered something of a joke inside the network. "He certainly doesn't research his books," one executive said.

    Where Ailes stands remains unclear. In the past he's been critical of O'Reilly's book-writing ventures. In my biography of Ailes, I reported Ailes told colleagues that O'Reilly is "a book salesman with a TV show." Fox News has not commented on the mess. "Roger is probably in the men's room hoping this whole thing blows over," one insider told me today. That might be wishful thinking. The rumor at Fox is that Will is preparing to write another O'Reilly column. Will did not respond to requests for comment.

  • O'Reilly Attacks Colleague George Will For His Criticism Of Killing Reagan

    George Will: O'Reilly's Book "Should Come With A Warning: 'Caution -- You Are About To Enter A No-Facts Zone'"

    Blog ››› ››› CYDNEY HARGIS

    Fox News host Bill O'Reilly responded to criticism from Fox contributor George Will, who called O'Reilly's newest book Killing Reagan, a "nonsensical history and execrable citizenship." O'Reilly called criticism Will's commentary "libel" and questioned his courage to face him on his show.

    In a November 5 opinion piece for The Washington Post, Will criticized the book for "distort[ing]" the public's understanding of Reagan's presidency. Will writes that Killing Reagan has "two and a half pages of 'sources,'" which "unspecifically and implausibly" refer to the FBI, CIA, presidential libraries, and world travels. However, Will reported that there is no record of either O'Reilly or Dugard using the Reagan presidential library for research. The piece noted that several of Reagan's advisers, including his Secretary of State George Shultz and Chief of Staff James Baker, were not interviewed for the book. Will concluded that Killing Reagan's "perfunctory pieties about Reagan's greatness are inundated by its flood of regurgitated slanders about his supposed lassitude and manipulability. This book is nonsensical history and execrable citizenship, and should come with a warning: 'Caution -- you are about to enter a no-facts zone.'"

    O'Reilly addressed Will's criticism during the final segment of his show, calling Will's column "libel" and challenging Will to appear on his show. From the November 5 edition of Fox News' The O'Reilly Factor:

    BILL O'REILLY: George Will wrote a column entitled "Bill O'Reilly Slander's Ronald Reagan." But it is his column that is the libel.

    [...]

    George Will regurgitates attacks on the book from Reagan loyalists who tried to get Killing Reagan spiked even before it was published, because they wanted a deification of the president, not an honest look at him. Will never called me, even though it's not direct dial. I mean, he can just punch up a little extension and there I am, because he works at Fox News. But, even so, we harbor no ill will, pun intended, and invited George on the Factor tomorrow. We'll see if he has the courage factor.

    Will is not the first to criticize O'Reilly's scholarship on Reagan. Past Reagan aides and biographers have called out O'Reilly's work in Killing Reagan, with one biographer calling the book "garbage, total B.S.," and a former Reagan national security advisor saying the book contains "plagiarism, simplicity and deception."