ABC Puts 'Conservative' Next to George Will's Name in 'This Week' Transcript

NewsBusters readers know that I never miss ABC's This Week, and that as I almost always write something about each and every installment, I use the transcripts provided at the network's website as a resource.

This Sunday a very peculiar thing happened: the words "CONSERVATIVE COLUMNIST" were placed next to George Will's name when it first appeared in the transcript.

KARL: That was the first lady and Senator Joe Manchin, part of an emotional week in the gun debate. We'll get to that in a moment, but first, we have our roundtable. George Will, as always, Ruth Marcus of the Washington Post, Bob Goodlatte of Virginia, Republican chairman of the judiciary committee, Luis Gutierrez, Democrat of Illinois, Kim Strassel with the Wall Street Journal.

George, right to you. You heard a debate among Republicans on immigration, which side should the Republican Party come down on?

GEORGE WILL, CONSERVATIVE COLUMNIST: Every conservative sympathizes with what Jeff Sessions was saying about not rewarding law breaking, however, conservatism begins with facing facts.

I have never seen ABCNews.com do this before. Compare that to the April 7 transcript:

STEPHANOPOULOS: The big problem here, George Will, is really no one knows anything much about Kim Jong un.

WILL: When Donald Rumsfeld was secretary of defense the second time around, he had in his Pentagon office on a table under glass, a satellite photograph taken at night of Korean peninsula, it's ablaze of light right up to the 38th parallel and then it's dark. Up dim, it's dark.


As you can see, the first time Will appeared in the transcript he was referred to simply as "WILL."

The same is true for his previous appearance on March 17 prior to taking two weeks off:

RADDATZ: Republican Senator Rob Portman on his dramatic change of heart, reversing his position on gay marriage after his son told him that he was gay. We'll get to that in a moment. But first, let's introduce the roundtable. George Will, ABC's Matthew Dowd, former Hewlett Packard CEO Carly Fiorina, Democratic Congressman Xavier Becerra and Audie Cornish, host of NPR's All Things Considered. Welcome to all of you.

I want to start with you, George Will, you heard what John Boehner said, which is probably not much of a surprise, still taking a very hard line on any new revenues, even if entitlement reform is offered. How do they break this stalemate, especially after the so-called charm offensive?

WILL: First, any charm offensive that is labeled a charm offensive thereby loses some of its charm because it looks tactical. But beyond that this week, while the charm offensive was going on, two budgets were produced.

Typically that's the way ABCNews.com refers to all non-elected guests in its transcripts - simply by last name. 

Readers are advised that NewsBusters like most outlets presents the full name and often the organization someone's from the first time his or her name appears in a transcript. Thereafter just the last name is used.

But ABCNews.com isn't consistent even with its own employees.

Here's the February 24 transcript:

ENGEL: I think congress should sit down and avoid the sequester. And if the sequester kicks in, for a week or go, we should then fix it so it doesn't become a permanent thing.

GEORGE WILL, COLUMNIST: The Navy insists that they really did have no choice but to delay the deployment from Norfolk to the Persian Gulf of the aircraft carrier Truman.


So that Sunday, Will was a "columnist" but not a "conservative" one.

The previous Sunday was also different:

KARL: Back with the roundtable: George Will, Ruth Marcus from The Washington Post, former Romney senior adviser Stuart Stevens, former speaker of the house Newt Gingrich and Democratic congressman Joaquin Castro. Thank you all for joining us.

George, the bottom line, these sequester cuts obviously are going to happen. And then we're going to have a battle over the government shutdown, debt ceiling. Where does this all end?

GEORGE WILL, ABC NEWS: It doesn't end.

Other than just "WILL," this one seems to be the most common.

So why did someone decide to list him as a conservative columnist this Sunday?

And why didn't he/she depict the Washington Post's Ruth Marcus as a liberal columnist?

KARL: The framing from Rubio was interesting, saying we really already have amnesty. Nobody's prosecuting the undocumented immigrants here now.

MARCUS: Absolutely, I want to say I'm going to really enjoy saying this next sentence. I completely agree with every syllable that George Will just said.

As you can see, the first time she appeared in this transcript, it's by only her last name. No Ruth. No liberal columnist. Nothing.

If ABCNews.com is going to start including ideologies for their guests, shouldn't they do it for all of them?

Noel Sheppard
Noel Sheppard
Noel Sheppard, Associate Editor of NewsBusters, passed away in March of 2014.