Did George Will really bomb at Trump’s Mar-a-Lago?


The owner of the Mar-a-Lago. (Alex Brandon/Associated Press)

George Will totally “bombed” at The Mar-a-Lago Club. I was there to watch. He was embarrassed and no longer likes Donald Trump.

In an appearance on CNBC, Trump stayed right on message: “He bombed, and he bombed badly.”

The claim itself has a stretchy feel to it. Just how does a George Will bomb at a place like Mar-a-Lago, anyhow? The Trump-owned Florida club, in its promotional claims, is “one of the most highly regarded private clubs in the world. Located within 20 acres of perfectly landscaped gardens and with ocean views, Mar-a-Lago is truly the crown jewel of Palm Beach.”

Sounds like a hospitable environment for The Washington Post opinion writer, who’d appear to have a rhetorical recipe customized for clubby elites in Florida: Preheat oven with a story or two about governmental overreach, grease pan with some sage references to 19th-century Americana, cook some liberals and season with a baseball anecdote. What mogul in a linen suit wouldn’t eat that up?

Let’s ask Richard Bernstein, a resident of Palm Beach and a member of Mar-a-Lago. Bernstein was front and center on March 30, 1995, the night that Will gave a presentation at Mar-a-Lago.

So how’d the conservative commentator do? Did he really bomb? “It’s been over 15 years. . . . It was a long, long time ago,” says Bernstein, noting that he doesn’t really remember what Will said, though he appreciates the range of guests that Trump has brought to the club.

Hmmm, then Will wasn’t so memorable? “If Donald said it, I’m sure it’s right,” says Bernstein, the CEO of an insurance brokerage firm, Richard Bernstein & Associates, that does business with Trump. (Will declined to comment for this item.)

Now to the Mar-a-Lago executive suite. Maybe someone in that office will have some thoughts on the Will presentation. Nope: Executive Administrative Assistant Gloria Myers stresses that the club doesn’t make comments “positive or negative” on such matters. “We try to keep it as professional as possible,” she says. Perhaps she should clue in the boss on that policy.

Erik Wemple writes the Erik Wemple blog, where he reports and opines on media organizations of all sorts.

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