Inside Job: Why won’t National Review explain how it coordinated with the GOP establishment?

On Friday, our Jon Ward reported a piece that described how House Republican leaders went about selling their “Pledge to America” to the rest of the Republican caucus. In the story, Ward explained how, at a meeting last Wednesday night of Republican lawmakers, leadership aides passed out an editorial from National Review that strongly endorsed the “Pledge.” Notably, the editorial said nothing about the elements of the “Pledge” that have proved unpopular among conservatives, including its now-famous failure to call for a ban on earmarks. Instead, the editorial showered praise on the effort, calling it, among many other flowery things, a “shrewd political document.”

If you’re a member of the Republican establishment in Washington, ideologically out of sync with your conservative supporters but anxious not to offend them, endorsements like these are precious. And indeed, leadership aides passed out copies of National Review’s editorial at the GOP caucus meeting. As Ward reported, none of this was accidental. According to two high-level sources, the editorial had been “prearranged” by Neil Bradley, an aide to House Minority Whip Eric Cantor, with National Review.

Both National Review and Rep. Cantor’s office immediately denied any such arrangement. Both attacked Ward personally. National Review did so in print.

Not so fast. In addition to the two trusted sources who spoke on background to Ward, we have evidence that there was in fact coordination between National Review and Congressman Cantor’s office. We know that GOP leadership aides were aware of, and excited by, National Review’s editorial before it was published. We know that the piece was posted online just minutes prior to the start of the Wednesday evening caucus meeting, yet somehow aides were ready with copies to pass out to members. A coincidence? Please.

But there are also some things we don’t know. Who at National Review (or its non-profit arm, the National Review Institute) spoke to members of the Republican leadership staff about the editorial, and when? What was the substance of those conversations? And are there other instances in which National Review has used its influence to help the Republican leadership placate its conservative base?

We haven’t nailed down those details yet, but we plan to – and not just because one of our colleagues has been unfairly maligned, but because it matters.

There is an important debate taking place over the direction of conservatism and the future of the Republican Party – one in which Tea Party and other grassroots activists have developed an understandable distrust of the Washington-based Republicans who claim to represent them. In this case, National Review has taken sides, providing ideological cover for the party’s establishment wing at a critical moment. We think it’s worth knowing a lot more about that arrangement.

  • RNCCritic

    Oh good grief, NR practically invented the modern Republican establishment. If you don’t know that they are part of it, you don’t know much about the subject.

  • SamAdams25

    Thank you for this article.

    We The People of the true grassroots Tea Party Movement are trying to reform the GOP from the ground up, and we need to know the truth about who in the GOP are true Constitutional Conservatives, and who is just yanking our chain. If Cantor is just playing us, we need to know that.

    The Tea Parties have taken over the leadership of the GOP in VA-5 – 11 Unit Chairs, the majority of Delegates, and the District Chairmanship. We will press to take over Cantor’s District as well if he is trying to play us.

    Keep up the good work!

    • gregg

      The Tea Party’s biggest problem, and what will probably hurt it in November, is people like you trashing the establishment GOP for the sake of it, even on weak evidence. :)

  • Supernatural Witness

    It doesn’t get any more blue blooded than NRO, but I read them every day or so.

  • riseabove

    Pink, my posts concerning the issue of solidarity are directed at anyone, (Republican, Libertarian, Independent, Moderate, Democrat, Tea Party, etc) who might be so inclined to vote against politicians who are hellbent on pushing this country into Socialism. Believe it or not, many who formerly voted Democrat will be voting Republican in the coming elections. I’m simply urging people to choose their battles carefully right now, although I’d prefer to urge those who appear to be uncomfortable with everything “America” to head south, preferably to Cuba, you included.

    • ThinkingOutLoud

      I hear you ‘riseabove’ – I hear you loud and clear. I support the principles of the conservative movement, tea partiers, liberty loving constitutionalists for an efficient and LIMITED government. But we’re not going to get there by fracturing ourselves. To weed out politicians who are not serious about what they say, I encourage more average Americans to run for office to serve. And when the primaries are over, it is time to work together and UNITE to move us in the right direction – away from the socialist regime. The progressives are the party of division and are hoping we will be divided. It only gives them a foothold in advancing their destructive agenda which must be stopped.

  • killtruck

    As a flaming, neocon RINO I have a lot of respect for National Review and Rich Lowry, but this is ridiculous. Jon Ward is one of a handful of reporters I trust.

    I like a reporter that isn’t afraid to tell me what I don’t want to hear.

    • PCnNC

      I’m with you here sister. We need more journalists like Carlson to give the facts and not be afraid to question the “powers that be”.

      Now, one must ask why the NR chose to jump in bed with the very kind of nonsense that most of we former Republicans (in namesake) abhor. My guess is that the NR is too scared to NOT choose the establishment because so much of their bread is buttered by those blue-bloods.

  • loudog

    “In this case, National Review has taken sides, providing ideological cover for the party’s establishment wing at a critical moment.”

    Fox News has been providing ideological cover for the party’s establishment for years. Now it matters when National Review does it?

    • truebearing


      The hypocrisy of a leftist decrying corruption at Fox News is so massive I fear it could be fatal. You’re on the verge of death by irony.