Armstrong Williams

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Armstrong Williams
Born (1959-02-05) February 5, 1959 (age 55)
Marion, South Carolina
Occupation TV host, radio host, columnist, political activist, entrepreneur
Religion Christian

Armstrong Williams (born February 5, 1959) is an American political commentator, entrepreneur, author of a nationally syndicated conservative newspaper column, and host of a daily radio show and a nationally syndicated TV program called The Right Side with Armstrong Williams. Williams is also founder and CEO of the Graham Williams Group, an international marketing, advertising and media public relations consulting firm,[1] and is a political talk show host on TV and radio. Williams was labeled by The Washington Post as "one of the most recognizable conservative voices in America."[2]

Early life and Career[edit]

One of ten children, Armstrong Williams was born on February 5, 1959 in Marion, South Carolina. Williams was reared on the family's 200-acre tobacco and swine farm. He displayed an early gift for writing and public speaking, winning a high school orating contest in 1976 .[citation needed] Graduating in 1981 from South Carolina State University, he received his B.A. in Political Science and English. He is a life member of Phi Beta Sigma fraternity.

Williams was formerly vice president for a governmental and international affairs public relations firm, B&C Associations. He also served as confidential assistant to the chairman of the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas), presidential appointee to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, legislative assistant to the U.S. House of Representative Carroll Campbell (former governor of South Carolina) and legislative aide and advisor to U.S. Senator Storm Thurmond.[3]

In 2004, Williams was appointed by President George W. Bush to the President's Commission on White House Fellows.[4] The Commission's responsibility is to select qualified candidates to serve as Fellows to Cabinet-rank offices. Past fellows have included Cheney, Powell and Labor Secretary Elaine Chao.

Career[edit]

Radio[edit]

Williams is heard on GEMS 105.9 FM, Nassau, Bahamas every morning at 8:10 a.m. est, WGCV 1620 A.M, South Carolina, Monday-Friday 4-5 p.m. and SiriusXM Urban View 110 6-7 p.m. est. In 1991, Williams began his radio career at WOL in Washington, D.C. Four years later, in 1995, Williams' local show was syndicated by The Talk America Radio Network.

In 1998, Williams united with The Salem Radio Network, which syndicated his national radio show to 26 of the top radio markets in the country. In 2002, he reunited with the Newark, New Jersey-based Talk America Radio Network. Williams joined the lineup at WWRL 1600 A.M., New York's Urban Talk in March 2005 as co-host with Sam Greenfield on Drive Time Dialogue.[5] He co-hosted "The Sam and Army" show at Air America Radio WWRL 1600 AM, New York's Progressive Talk from 5:00 a.m. to 9:00 a.m. (EST.) with Sam Greenfield.

Williams began hosting a nightly talk show in 2008 on XM Satellite Radio Power 128 (now 110) called The Armstrong William's Show.[6] William's radio program features his own opinions, values and ideology related to political and current issues.

Television[edit]

Williams has extensive experience in television programming. Since 1995, he has produced weekly television shows which are nationally syndicated and air internationally on Sinclair Broadcast Group network stations. He is a frequent guest on television shows and networks that include MSNBC, Sky News, DC TV and the Joy Behar show. Williams has produced prime-time specials with US Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, poet Maya Angelou, former Vice President Dick Cheney, and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

In 2003 he launched his own company, The Right Side Productions, which produces and syndicates his television program to media outlets including Sinclair Broadcast Group and international markets in Lagos, Nigeria.

From 2002 to 2005 Williams hosted On Point with Armstrong Williams, a monthly prime time television special and a joint venture with Comcast, Radio One, and Right Side Productions, that aired on cable network TVOne, included guests such as former Vice President Dick Cheney, former Secretary of State Colin Powell and former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.[7]

In early 2013 Williams began expanding his outreach by entering into media ownership with the purchase of two television stations, from a larger part of a $370 million acquisition of Barrington Broadcasting by Sinclair Broadcast Group. Howard Stirk Holdings LLC, which Williams owns, was given ownership over NBC affiliate WEYI-TV in Flint-Saginaw-Bay City, Michigan; CW affiliate WWMB in Myrtle Beach-Florence, South Carolina, and MyNetworkTV affiliate, WMMP in Charleston, South Carolina. All of Howard Stirk Holdings' stations remain operated by Sinclair under shared services agreements.[8]

"No Child Left Behind" controversy[edit]

In January 2005, USA Today reported that documents obtained under the Freedom of Information Act revealed that Williams had been paid $240,000 to promote the controversial No Child Left Behind Act. USA Today claimed Williams was hired "to promote the law on his nationally syndicated television show and to urge other black journalists to do the same".[9]

As part of the agreement, Williams was required "to regularly comment on NCLB during the course of his broadcasts," and to interview Education Secretary Rod Paige for TV and radio spots that aired during the show in 2004".[10] The contract with Williams was part of a $1 million contract between the U.S. Department of Education and the public relations company, Ketchum Inc.

Melanie Sloan from Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington told USA Today that the contract may be illegal "because Congress has prohibited propaganda ... [A]nd it's propaganda". United States Representative George Miller (D-CA), a member of the House Education Committee, called the contract "a very questionable use of taxpayers' money" that is "probably illegal".[11]

After the USA Today revelations, Tribune Media Services terminated its syndication agreement with Williams. In a statement to Editor & Publisher (not available on its website), TMS stated: "[A]ccepting compensation in any form from an entity that serves as a subject of his weekly newspaper columns creates, at the very least, the appearance of a conflict of interest. Under these circumstances, readers may well ask themselves if the views expressed in his columns are his own, or whether they have been purchased by a third party".[12] Williams told the Associated Press "even though I'm not a journalist — I'm a commentator — I feel I should be held to the media ethics standard. My judgment was not the best. I wouldn't do it again, and I learned from it."[13]

White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan said it was a matter for the Education Department. According to Associated Press the Department of Education stated that the deal was a "permissible use of taxpayer funds under legal government contracting procedures".[13] McClellan remained noncommittal on whether White House staff knew of the deal with Williams. "I'm not sure that senior staff was consulted before this decision was made. I haven't heard anything to that effect", he said.[14] Three days after the story broke, McClellan claimed he was unaware of the details of the contract and that specific questions should be directed to the Education Department. As to whether Williams should have disclosed the details of the contract in his columns and on-air appearances, McClellan would only concede that "those are all legitimate questions". Asked whether he would investigate whether other journalists were on the payroll of the administration, McClellan replied, "I'm not aware of any others that are under contract other than the one that's been reported on in the media."[citation needed]

Following the revelations of the Williams contract with Ketchum, the watchdog group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington announced that it had filed Freedom of Information requests with 22 agencies requesting copies of all contracts with public relations firms.[15]

The USA Today revelations caused controversy within the PR industry as well. As soon as the story broke, Edelman Public Relations' CEO Richard Edelman posted a note on his personal blog criticizing Ketchum's deal with Williams. "This kind of pay-for-play public relations takes us back in time to the days of the press agent who would drop off the new record album and $10 to the deejay. It makes our industry's efforts to 'clean up' behavior in newly created PR markets such as China and Russia look decidedly ridiculous", he wrote.[16] The Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) issued a statement saying "the relationship should have been disclosed up front, no question".[17]

On September 30, 2005, the Government Accountability Office released a report concluding that the payments to Williams were illegal on the part of the Department of Education because the government's role in the public relations effort was not disclosed.[18]

Other business interests[edit]

Armstrong Williams is sole proprietor of Stirk Real Estate with holdings in the nation's capitol.

Williams is a National Board member of the Carson Scholars Fund,[19] a 501 (c) (3) non-profit charity that was founded in 1994 by Johns Hopkins Pediatric Neurosurgeon Dr. Benjamin Carson and Candy Carson to recognize and reward students in grades 4-11 who strive for academic excellence (3.75 GPA or higher) and demonstrate a strong commitment to their community. He also served on The Boards of the Presidents Commission on White House Fellows, under former United States President George W. Bush,[4] Independence Federal S&L Bank Board of Directors and NEWSMAX Advisory Board.[20]

Williams is the Founder and CEO of the Graham Williams Group, an international marketing, advertising and media public relations consulting firm. He also owns Armstrong Williams Productions LLC with David Modell from Baltimore, Maryland.

See also[edit]

Books by Williams[edit]

  • Armstrong Williams, Reawakening Virtues: Restoring What Makes America Great, New Chapter Publisher, July 2011, ISBN 0-9827918-5-2
  • Armstrong Williams, Letters to a young victim: Hope and Healing in America's Inner Cities, Scribner Paper Fiction, October 1996. ISBN 0-684-82466-3
  • Armstrong Williams, Beyond Blame: How We Can Succeed by Breaking the Dependency Barrier, Free Press, May 1995. ISBN 0-02-935365-3

References[edit]

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]

This article uses content from the SourceWatch article on Armstrong Williams under the terms of the GFDL.