George Will ripped Mitt Romney in the The Washington Post the other day, not for the first time. Should he have mentioned that his wife tried and failed to get hired by Romney, and now works for a competitor?
Politico reported Saturday that Mari Maseng, Will's wife, has signed on to work for Rick Perry as a consultant, and helped prepare him for the GOP presidential debate in Michigan. Elsewhere, Politico also tracked down a source who said Maseng worked for Bachmann earlier in this election cycle, and had previously sought work with the Romney campaign itself.
Will plans to disclose his wife's work for the Perry campaign in a regularly scheduled appearance on ABC and in future columns, The Post's editorial page editor told Politico. It's always a touchy subject; when is it the reader's business what a journalist's spouse is up to?
Journalist’s spouses are often a touchy issue. Last month, NPR host Michele Norris took temporary leave from her job because her husband Broderick Johnson accepted a senior advisor position with the Obama campaign.
“There was no relationship between his wife and any campaign the last time he wrote a column on the campaign, or any aspect of the campaign,” Hiatt said. “This developed after the last column that was two weeks ago. He has never written a column while there was a relationship between his wife and the campaign.”
But Will has written extensively about Romney, including the column on Oct. 30 when he blasted him as a "pretzel candidate" without meaningful convictions and conservative principles. (Hiatt's timeline also doesn't seem to account for Maseng's earlier work with the Bachmann campaign.) They also have had trouble nailing down whether Maseng is being paid or not for her work with Perry.
It's a minor issue. For the major ones going into tonight's debate, see Molly Ball's "what to watch for" piece from The Atlantic.
But it does seem that in all his words written about the Republican field so far, and particularly in the broadside against Romney, there might have been room for Will to note that he's related to someone who is actively working with some of the very campaigns he covers. Then, this is an improvement over earlier election cycles, when Will played both sides of the journalistic line, all by himself.
Again, from Politico:
Similar issues arose before for Will and Maseng before. During a presidential debate in 1980, Will helped Ronald Reagan prepare beforehand then criticized his opponent, Jimmy Carter, as a television commentator afterward. In 1996, Will called a Clinton speech "American political flapdoodle” then defended Dole’s response—which he helped write, according to a 1996 article in The Washingtonian—on ABC.