Politics & Media
Mar 02, 2009, 08:57AM

What's Going on At The Washington Post?

George Will: Fact-bending hack, or beloved Post contributor?

In the fourth quarter of 2008, earnings at the Washington Post’s parent company dropped more than 70%. Faced with that stark reality, it looks like the newspaper’s editors are making overtures to the ultra-conservative (Karl Rove-type) right in a desperate attempt to attract new readers.


Not only has the Post hired Bill Kristol, the infamous neo-con fanboy and recently discharged New York Times columnist, to write a monthly column, in the first installment of which he instructed Congressional Republicans to “obstruct and delay” all of Obama’s legislation initiatives, consequences to the country be damned. The Post’s editors are also standing behind George Will, whose February 15 column mocked predictions of global warming:


Real calamities take our minds off hypothetical ones. Besides, according to the U.N. World Meteorological Organization, there has been no recorded global warming for more than a decade, or one-third of the span since the global cooling scare.


That column provoked bloggers all over the internet, and led a group of prominent environmentalists to write an open letter to the Post’s editors denouncing both Will and their defense of him. They wrote:

Global warming is one of the most urgent issues facing our country and the entire world. In dealing with an issue of such magnitude, the Post has a duty to provide the truth to its readers.

George Will is entitled to his own opinions, but he is not entitled to his own facts. We respectfully ask that you immediately make your readers aware of the glaring misinformation in Will's column.

Undeterred, the Post published a second column by Will, in which he asserted:


As for the anonymous scientists' unspecified claims about the column's supposedly myriad inaccuracies: The column contained many factual assertions but only one has been challenged. The challenge is mistaken.


I’m discouraged by the fact that the Post thinks the path to profits lies in pandering to the recently-humbled right-wing conservative element. If they continue down that path, it’s a shame for everyone who values good journalism over pop news and cultural ideology. It’d be sad of the Post becomes just another CNN, MSNBC, or Fox.

  • But Ian, the Post has run, twice a week, George Will's columns since 1979, and he also writes a biweekly column for The Post's sister Newsweek. So it's hardly a new trend to capture humbled right-wing conservatives. In fact, the Post is fairly well balanced on its op-ed pages. Do you really want an opinion section comprised of solely preaching-to-the-converted E.J. Dionne types? And by the way, I've no beef with Dionne, although I don't often agree with him.

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  • This is why papers have ombudsmen (I guess that's the plural), and I really hope the Post's comes out once the dust has settled and says, uh, yeah, he made that up. And yeah, even still I'll take Will over self-satisfied "infamous neo-con fanboy" (great description) Bill Kristol any day. Hiring him and not calling Will out aside, the Post is still a pretty good paper.

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  • Will doesn't work for the Post. He works for the Washington Post Writer's Group, an independent writer's syndicate. The Post keeps an equal balance of psycho right wing and leftie liberals.

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