NBC has snagged another conservative voice, hiring Washington Post columnist and former Fox News commentator George Will as a contributor for MSNBC and NBC News, Politico reported Monday.
Will has been a regular guest on MSNBC shows since January after his Fox News contract wasn’t renewed. He officially joins the network ― strongly associated with outspoken progressive personalities like Rachel Maddow and Chris Hayes ― as it faces scrutiny for recently veering in a more conservative direction.
Former George W. Bush spokeswoman Nicolle Wallace is set to host a show on MSNBC, and the network is in talks with conservative radio host Hugh Hewitt about creating a weekend show, New York magazine has reported.
MSNBC and NBC News chairman Andy Lack has been targeting progressive programming since 2015, as part of a “plan to move the cable news network away from its bedrock liberalism and toward a more centrist approach personified by Brian Williams,” HuffPost’s Ryan Grim reported this month.
Will has faced criticism ― including in his own paper ― for his arguments downplaying the seriousness of climate change. It’s unclear how those views will be received at NBC, but a similar scenario has caused major blowback at The New York Times, with readers canceling subscriptions after the paper hired conservative columnist and “climate agnostic” Bret Stephens last month.
Will has also written skeptically about “the supposed campus epidemic of rape,” suggesting in a 2014 column that statistics on campus sexual assault are overinflated and describing “victimhood” as “a coveted status that confers privileges.” The column attracted widespread backlash.
More recently, Will has been strongly critical of Donald Trump, first as a candidate and then as a president. Last June, he changed his voter registration from Republican to “unaffiliated,” declaring that the GOP lining up behind Trump “is not my party.”
Earlier this month, Will offered a scathing critique of Trump’s “disability,” writing in The Washington Post that the president has “an untrained mind bereft of information and married to stratospheric self-confidence.”