When Good Pundits Go Bad

For all the great writing he’s done on behalf of conservatism, Walter Williams’s credibility took a hit in my eyes when I first learned of his shoddy Lincoln attacks.  Now he’s defending Rand Paul on Discrimination-Gate.  I don’t feel extremely strongly one way or the other regarding his argument on the theory—yeah, we need to limit government a lot more than it’s currently being limited, but not all “overreaches” are created equal (plus, there are good arguments against his position, too).

I’m more interested in Williams’ defense of Paul’s character:

He has been dishonestly accused of saying he thinks that private businesses have a right to discriminate against black people. Here’s a partial transcript of the pertinent question in the interview:

Maddow: “Do you think that a private business has a right to say, ‘We don’t serve black people’?” To which Paul answered, “I’m not, I’m not, I’m not in … yeah … I’m not in favor of any discrimination of any form.”

The “yeah” was spun in the media as “yes” to the question whether private businesses had a right to refuse service to black people. Paul had told Maddow that while he supported the 1964 Civil Rights Act in general, he thought that provisions banning private discrimination might have gone too far.

Oh, I get it: “he thinks that private businesses have the right to discriminate” is totally different from “provisions banning private discrimination might have gone too far.”  Thanks for clearing that up.

Here we have Williams denying that Paul said something—even accusing those who say he did of dishonesty—and then, in the next breath, admitting that he did say it after all, and defending him for it.  Really, Dr. Williams?

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