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February 17, 2009

So Much Nicer To Be George Will Before The Internet

Perhaps you've seen that on Sunday George Will made things up so he can claim global warming isn't happening. And two days later, Will and Fred Hiatt, the editor of the Washington Post op-ed page, still won't explain their behavior.

It must be hard for Will to get used to bluggs, because he's spent his entire career with total impunity. Here's a funny story of Noam Chomsky's from the book Understanding Power about a column Will wrote in 1982:

CHOMSKY: [A] few years ago George Will wrote a column in Newsweek called "Mideast Truth and Falsehood," about how peace activists are lying about the Middle East, everything they say is a lie. And in the article, there was one statement that had a vague relation to fact: he said that Sadat had refused to deal with Israel until 1977. So I wrote them a letter, the kind of letter you write to Newsweek—you know, four lines—in which I said, "Will has one statement of fact, it's false; Sadat made a peace offer in 1971, and Israel and the United States turned it down." Well, a couple days later I got a call from a research editor who checks facts for the Newsweek "Letters" column. She said: "We're kind of interested in your letter, where did you get those facts?" So I told her, "Well, they're published in Newsweek, on February 8, 1971"—which is true, because it was a big proposal, it just happened to go down the memory hole in the United States because it was the wrong story. So she looked it up and called me back, and said, "Yeah, you're right, we found it there; okay, we'll run your letter." An hour later she called again and said, "Gee, I'm sorry, but we can't run the letter." I said, "What's the problem?" She said, "Well, the editor mentioned it to Will and he's having a tantrum; they decided they can't run it." Well, okay.

Below the fold are the Understanding Power footnotes with references and excerpts.

50. For Will's article, see George Will, "MidEast Truth and Falsehood," Newsweek, August 2, 1982, p. 68 ("Sadat, remembered as a peacemaker, first made war. . . . Having failed to get to Jerusalem with Soviet tanks, Sadat went by Boeing 707"). On Sadat's earlier rejected peace offer, see footnote 47 of this chapter.

51. For Newsweek's article, see "Middle East: Small Blessings," Newsweek, February 8, 1971, p. 36. An excerpt:

In part, the Egyptian position [in a memorandum to U.N. special Mideast mediator Gunnar Jarring] echoed the U.N. resolution of November 1967, which called on Israel to withdraw from territories occupied during the six-day war. In exchange, Cairo promised to call an end to the state of war against Israel, respect Israel's territorial integrity and agree that Israel should have free access to all international waterways. . . . Security in the area could be guaranteed, the Egyptians added, by establishing demilitarized zones on both the Arab and Israeli sides of the frontier, zones that could be policed by a U.N. peace-keeping force made up, at least in part, of American, Soviet, British and French troops. ("On no account," responded Mrs. Meir [the Israeli Prime Minister], "will a force of that kind come in place of secure, recognized and agreed borders.") . . . [T]he Egyptian text specifically did not call for a Security Council meeting on the Middle East, a move that Cairo had been threatening and Jerusalem had warned would upset the Jarring applecart. Commented [Egyptian] Ambassador el-Zayyat: "We want Jarring's mission to succeed."

—Jonathan Schwarz

Posted at February 17, 2009 05:06 PM

Sir Norman Angell always never said that World War One would not happen; see George Will's claim here. (12th paragraph)

Posted by: Murfyn at February 17, 2009 06:17 PM

I failed to link above; if anybody cares, the address was

Posted by: Murfyn at February 17, 2009 06:20 PM

I remember reading UP and was so struck by some of NC's claims that I went back, reread the book, made notes at every footnote that struck me, and poured through the footnotes looking up everything. I went ahead and read most of the books or articles he referenced there, at least the ones I could find. I think I noted about 100 books and made it through about 70 of them.

It was very educational.

Posted by: Justin at February 17, 2009 06:28 PM

I first learned about that lie reading Chomsky--later I read Seymour Hersh's book on Kissinger and he confirmed what Chomsky had said, though not, of course, by citing Chomsky, but by telling the truth about what happened without caring about the usual storyline. The usual storyline in the US is what Will says and it's supposed to prove that Sadat couldn't make peace with Israel until Egypt had done well enough in the 73 war to wipe out the shame of 67--the story goes on to say that Israel, of course, was always desperate for peace and just waiting until some Arab nation went ahead and indicated a willingness to talk. George Will was merely reciting What Everyone Knows--no wonder he was upset someone compared sacred truth with inconvenient facts.

Posted by: Donald Johnson at February 17, 2009 09:22 PM

The time may be ripe for an entire book rebutting all the lies of George effing Will. Lord knows, there is no paucity of material.

Posted by: bobbyp at February 17, 2009 10:35 PM

The Post has a new ombudsman. Write him at and ask if Will is still collecting fees for speaking and consulting from people he favors in his columns.

I suspect Will is getting some energy ndustry money these days.

Posted by: ColinLaney at February 18, 2009 12:09 AM

George Will can keep the rest of his lies.

I just wish he would stop pretending he is such a passionate baseball fan.

Nothing is more annoying than listening to someone pretend to love sports.

Posted by: Seth at February 18, 2009 12:26 AM

G.W is a true bush allcown coward.He has always been the clown of pure bullshit.Anyone, who believes his bullshit,needs to be take outback and shot.The same gos for all rightwing bush clowns.

Posted by: Doc at February 18, 2009 11:02 AM

hear! hear! Will has done as much, if not more, to dull the former passion i had for baseball, than all the scandals of the 90s. this blowhard does not strike me as one who has a passion for anything under the sun. some people taint a thing merely by their association with it. Will is one of those.

Posted by: chrome agnomen at February 18, 2009 11:21 AM

Others from the Washington Post:
Washpost Ed Marcus Brauchli,

All worthy of ridicule

Posted by: Mike at February 18, 2009 02:53 PM

Great Post!

Speaking of books refuting George Will, I and my colleagues have gone some distance in that regard. I think we've cataloged some 100 plus instances of failed arguments in the past few years. That's a lot.

Posted by: jcasey at February 18, 2009 03:08 PM

tim: CANNONS made seccession unlawful. Even illegal wars level cities, kill people.

Posted by: Mike Meyer at February 18, 2009 04:04 PM

That global warming article is pretty awesome. In that body of quotes about global warming the first one I looked up was actually a modern day global warming "skeptic" predicting an ice-age holocaust in 1975.

Posted by: buermann at February 18, 2009 08:40 PM

I once ran into George Will at the Charleston Airport. He is very short.* I said "What's it like to be pompous and wrong?" He said "It's not so bad. I make a lot of money. When elitists like Chomsky and Krugman call me out, I make even more money."
*Everything before this is true. Everything after is true too. It just never happened.

Posted by: drip at February 19, 2009 11:59 AM

I hope Will and all the other conservative morons keep insisting on having their own facts. The sensible people in the center can smell bullshit (usually) and Will and his buddies can't, thus insuring that their time in the wilderness will be as long as possible. Keep the faith, dittoheads! Never admit you're wrong, ever ever ever.

Posted by: Racer X at February 19, 2009 03:11 PM

I am 69 and Will is one year younger than me, but still mad at the 60s because nobody invited him to the party. Can you imagine inviting that quintessential Nerd to a party? Yet, he is influential, for some reason. Why do Conservatives continue to deny Global Warming? Why do ostensibly rational people, (like Will) cling to their ossified dogma? Is it simply because he can't admit that reality, science and (god forbid) progressive thought is telling us the truth? Beats me, but his pompousness and fake wisdom typify the empty balloon that is modern Convservatism.

Posted by: Rene Tihista at February 19, 2009 10:10 PM

Why do ostensibly rational people, (like Will) cling to their ossified dogma?

Because it pays well and raises your social status? What's not rational about that?

Posted by: abb1 at February 20, 2009 05:04 PM

*Everything before this is true. Everything after is true too. It just never happened.

...and very funny. Thanks for that.

Posted by: cemmcs at February 22, 2009 10:56 AM