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George Will

George Frederick Will (born May 4, 1941) is a Pulitzer Prize-winning conservative American newspaper columnist, journalist, and author.

Education and early career

George Frederick Will was born on May 4, 1941 in Champaign, Illinois, the son of Frederick L. Will and Louise Hendrickson Will. His father Fred was a respected professor of philosophy, specializing in epistemology, at the University of Illinois.

Will graduated from University Laboratory High School of Urbana, Illinois, and attended Trinity College, in Hartford, Connecticut (B.A.). He subsequently read PPE at Magdalen College, University of Oxford (B.A., M.A.), and received M.A. and Ph.D. degrees in politics from Princeton University. His 1968 Ph.D. dissertation was entitled Beyond the Reach of Majorities: Closed Questions in the Open Society.

Will then taught political philosophy at James Madison College, at Michigan State University, and at the University of Toronto. He taught at Harvard University in 1995 and again in 1998. From 1970 to 1972, he served on the staff of Senator Gordon Allott (R-CO).

Career in journalism

Will served as an editor for the conservative magazine National Review from 1972 to 1978. He joined the Washington Post Writers Group in 1979, writing a syndicated twice-weekly column, which became widely circulated among newspapers across the country. In 1976, he became a contributing editor for Newsweek, writing a biweekly backpage column. As of 2008, Will still writes both columns.

Will was widely praised by liberals for condemning the corruption of the Nixon presidency. He won a Pulitzer Prize for Commentary for "distinguished commentary on a variety of topics" in 1977. Often combining factual reporting with conservative commentary, Will's columns are known for their erudite vocabulary, allusions to political philosophers, and frequent references to baseball.

Will has also written two best-selling books on the game of baseball, three books on political philosophy, and has published eleven compilations of his columns for the Washington Post and Newsweek and of various book reviews and lectures.

Will is also a news analyst for ABC since the early 1980s and was a founding member on the panel of ABC's This Week with David Brinkley in 1981 (now titled This Week with George Stephanopolous). Will was also a regular panelist on television's Agronsky & Company from 1977 through 1984 and on NBC's Meet the Press in the middle and late 1970s.


1980 Ronald Reagan presidential campaign: Will's detractors complain about instances when Will has blurred the line between independent journalist and political advocate. Will helped Ronald Reagan prepare for his 1980 debate against Jimmy Carter, breaking with the journalistic tradition of neutrality. Immediately after the debate, Will—not yet a member of the ABC News staff—appeared on ABC's Nightline. He was introduced by host Ted Koppel, who said "It's my understanding that you met for some time yesterday with Governor Reagan," and that Will "never made any secret of his affection" for the Republican candidate. It was not explicitly disclosed that Will had assisted with or been present during Reagan's debate preparation. Will went on to praise Reagan, saying his "game plan worked well. I don't think he was very surprised".

Twenty-four years later, appearing on a National Public Radio program, Carter stated that before the 1980 debate, Will gave the Reagan campaign a top-secret briefing book stolen from Carter's office. According to a report, he repeated this accusation in 2005 (The Alabama Plainsman, July 28, 2005). In a 2005 syndicated column, Will called his role in Reagan's debate preparation "inappropriate" but denied any role in stealing the briefing book. As he had done to Carter privately, Will wrote in his column that he gave the book a "cursory glance" and found it a "crashing bore and next to useless—for [Carter], or for anyone else". In response to the column, Carter wrote a letter to the Washington Post retracting his accusations. Carter apologized to Will for "any incorrect statement that I have ever made about his role in the use of my briefing book ... I have never thought Mr. Will took my book".1996 Bob Dole presidential campaign: The national media watchgroup Fairness & Accuracy in Reporting (FAIR) criticized Will in connection with the 1996 election, for "commenting on the presidential race while his second wife, Mari Maseng Will, was a senior staffer for the Dole presidential campaign," including commenting on a Dole speech without disclosing that his wife had helped write it. However, Will mentioned his wife's connection to the Dole campaign almost weekly on This Week. 2003 Association with Conrad Black: Will was criticized for his dealings with Canadian-born British financier Conrad Black. Will served on an informal board of advisors to Hollinger International, a newspaper company controlled by Black. The board met once a year and Will received an annual payment of $25,000. The board was disbanded in 2001. In March 2003, Will wrote a syndicated column which praised a speech by Black and did not disclose their previous business relationship.2008 Offshore drilling by China: In a Washington Post column on June 5, 2008, Will stated that "Drilling is underway off Florida. The drilling is being done by China, in cooperation with Cuba, which is drilling closer to South Florida than U.S. companies are." This statement is false. It was later quoted and subsequently withdrawn by Dick Cheney after Congressional Democrats, backed by energy experts, pointed out the error. House Leader John Boehner also cited the incorrect statement: "Right at this moment some or less off the coast of Key West, Fla., China has the green light to drill for oil.

In a June 17, 2008 column, George Will issued a correction: "In a previous column, I stated that China, in partnership with Cuba, is drilling for oil from the Florida coast. While Cuba has partnered with Chinese companies to drill in the Florida Straits, no Chinese company has been involved in Cuba's oil exploration that close to the United States."2008 Comment on Barack Obama: On August 3, 2008 on ABC's This Week, in a discussion of whether presidential candidate Sen. Barack Obama is "uppity," George Will said that the "crowning, crashing irony of this year is that the first African American candidate for president to be nominated by a major party has the weakness of being too upper crust. That is, he's Columbia University, he's Harvard Law School." Though George Will himself received his education at Trinity College, in Hartford, Connecticut (B.A.), Oxford University (M.A.) and Princeton (Ph.D.), he was illustrating the fact that even African Americans who are generally viewed as an underprivileged minority in the United States can find themselves comfortable and at home among the 'elite'.

Criticism of the Bush administration

George Will served as one of the opponents within the Beltway media of the nomination of Harriet Miers to the United States Supreme Court.

Will has also recently expressed reservations about the policies the Bush administration has chosen to pursue with respect to Iraq, and has become openly critical of what he perceives to be an unrealistically optimistic set of political scenarios outlined by the White House.

In March 2006, in a column penned in the aftermath of the apparently sectarian bombing of the Askariya Shrine in Samarra, Baghdad, Will challenged the Bush administration—and the representatives of the U.S. government stationed in Iraq—to be more honest about the difficulties the United States faced in rebuilding and maintaining order within Iraq, comparing the White House's rhetoric unfavorably to that of Winston Churchill during the early years of World War II. The optimistic assessments delivered by the Bush administration were described by Will as the "rhetoric of unreality.

Will repeated this criticism of the Bush Iraq policy and broader White House and congressional foreign and domestic policymaking, as part of his keynote address for the Cato Institute's 2006 Milton Friedman Prize dinner.



Will has three children with his first wife, Madeleine. One of these children, Jon, was born in 1972 with Down syndrome, which Will has written about in his column on occasion. In 1991, Will married Mari Maseng, a former Reagan presidential speechwriter and former communications director for Robert Dole. They have one child, a son named David, and live in the Washington D.C. area.


Will is a Chicago Cubs fan.

Religious views

On June 3, 2008, Will stated in an interview on The Colbert Report that he was an agnostic because he was "not decisive enough to be an atheist".

Popular references

  • In the Seinfeld Season 6 episode "The Jimmy", when asked if he was able to find another man attractive, Cosmo Kramer responds that he finds Will handsome, citing his clean looks, but does not think he is "all that bright."
  • In Dave Barry's "Tax Guide" column, Barry states that "if the IRS asks where you got this information, remember to give them my full name, George Will."
  • In a season one episode of 30 Rock ("Jack-tor"), Tracy Jordan, who was thought to be illiterate, is seen reading a newspaper in an elevator remarking, "Damn, George Will keeps getting more and more conservative."
  • Cartoonist Berke Breathed has referenced him at least twice in his Bloom County comic strip series: In one election day strip, Opus, while fretting about his campaign as vice president, mentions being criticized by Will. Also in Bloom County's Sunday-only sequel, Outland, Opus, attending the monthly meeting of "Free Thinkers of the Meddow", informs the others that "George Will sends his regrets", causing the others to moan "Awwwww!".
  • For a week in the mid 1980's, Doonesbury centered its strip on the adventures of one of Will's fictional interns, drawing attention to his erudite language and mannerisms.


In addition to more than 15 honorary degrees:

  • 1977—Pulitzer Prize for Commentary
  • 1978—Headliner Award for consistently outstanding feature columns
  • 1979—Finalist for National Magazine Award in essays and criticism
  • 1980—Silurian Award for editorial writing
  • 1991—Silurian Award for editorial writing
  • 1991—First Place in Interpretive Columns: Clarion Awards from Women in Communications
  • 1991—Cronkite Award, Arizona State University
  • 1992—Madison Medal Award, Princeton University
  • 1993—William Allen White Award, William Allen White School of Journalism at the University of Kansas
  • 2003—Walter B. Wriston Lecture Award, The Manhattan Institute
  • 2006—Champion of Liberty Award, Goldwater Institute (


  • The Pursuit of Happiness and Other Sobering Thoughts. Harper & Row, 1978.
  • The Pursuit of Virtue and Other Tory Notions. Simon & Schuster, 1982.
  • Statecraft as Soulcraft: What Government Does. Simon & Schuster, 1983.
  • The Morning After: American Success and Excesses, 1981–1986. Free Press, 1986.
  • The New Season: A Spectator's Guide to the 1988 Election. Simon & Schuster, 1987.
  • Men at Work: The Craft of Baseball. Macmillan, 1990.
  • Suddenly: The American Idea Abroad and at Home. Free Press, 1990.
  • Restoration: Congress, Term Limits and the Recovery of Deliberative Democracy. 1992.
  • The Leveling Wind: Politics, the Culture and Other News, 1990-1994. Viking, 1994.
  • The Woven Figure: Conservatism and America's Fabric: 1994–1997. Scribner, 1997.
  • Bunts: Pete Rose, Curt Flood, Camden Yards and Other Reflections on Baseball. Simon and Schuster, 1997.
  • With a Happy Eye But...: America and the World, 1997–2002. Free Press, 2002.
  • One Man's America: The Pleasures and Provocations of Our Singular Nation. Crown Publishing Group, 2008.


See also

Secular right


External links



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