Armstrong Williams

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Armstrong Williams
Armstrong Williams.jpg
Born (1962-02-05) February 5, 1962 (age 56)
EducationSouth Carolina State University, (B.S.)
OccupationTV host, nationally syndicated columnist, political activist, and entrepreneur
Political partyRepublican

Armstrong Williams (born February 5, 1962) 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 Armstrong Williams Show. 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. He is principal in Howard Stirk Holdings, a media company affiliated with Sinclair Broadcasting that has made numerous television station purchases and hosts interns. It was one of only a few African American owned media companies.

He has been described in the press as the business manager and confidant of Ben Carson.

Early life and career[edit]

One of ten children, Armstrong Williams was born on February 5, 1962, to Thelma Howard Williams and James Williams, in Marion, South Carolina. Williams was reared on the family's 200-acre tobacco farm. 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 Strom Thurmond.[2]

In 2004, Williams was appointed by President George W. Bush to the President's Commission on White House Fellows, which chooses White House Fellows.[3][4]

Williams is the cousin of South Carolina State Senator Clementa Pinckney, who was a victim of the Charleston church shooting.[5]


"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 reported that Williams was hired "to promote the law on his nationally syndicated television show and to urge other black journalists to do the same."[6]

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.[7] 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 of Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington told USA Today that the contract may be illegal "because Congress has prohibited propaganda ... [A]nd its 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."[8]

After the USA Today revelations, Tribune Media Services (TMS) terminated its syndication agreement with Williams. In a statement to Editor & Publisher (E&P), 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."[9] In response, Williams initially told E&P that he intended self-syndicate his column.[10] E&P contacted 10 newspapers listed as clients on Williams's Web site to ask if they would continue to carry the column; the majority stated that they would not.[10] Williams later 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."[11]

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."[11] 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.[12] 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."[12]

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.[13]

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.[14] The Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) issued a statement saying "the relationship should have been disclosed up front, no question."[15]

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.[16]


Williams is heard on GEMS 105.9 FM, Nassau, Bahamas, every morning at 8:10 a.m., WGCV 620 A.M, Cayce, South Carolina, Monday–Friday 4–5 p.m., and SiriusXM Urban View 126 6–7 p.m. 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 AM, New York's Urban Talk in March 2005 as co-host with Sam Greenfield on Drive Time Dialogue.[17] 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. with Sam Greenfield.

Williams began hosting a nightly talk show in 2008 on XM Satellite Radio Power 128 (now SiriusXM Urban View) called The Armstrong Williams Show.[18] Williams' radio program features his own opinions, values, and ideology related to political and current issues. In June, 2018 it was announced that Williams was leaving radio to focus more on his television company.[19]


Since 1995, Williams has produced weekly television shows which were nationally syndicated. 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, with Langer Broadcast Radio Network, his television program to media outlets including Sky Angel and The Liberty Channel.[20] Williams was hired as a political analyst by Sinclair Broadcasting Group for its News Central program.[21]

From 2002 to 2005 Williams hosted On Point with Armstrong Williams, a monthly primetime 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.[20]

Sexual harassment[edit]

Williams has settled sexual harassment lawsuits with two men, one in 1997 and one in 2017.[22]

Howard Stirk Holdings[edit]

Howard Stirk Holdings, LLC
IndustryBroadcast media
FoundedApril 11, 2013; 5 years ago (2013-04-11)
FounderArmstrong Williams
Washington D.C.
OwnerArmstrong Williams
ParentSinclair Broadcast Group

On November 25, 2013, Williams was involved in the purchase of two television stations as part of a larger $370 million acquisition of Barrington Broadcasting by Sinclair Broadcast Group. Howard Stirk Holdings, which Williams owns, was given ownership over NBC affiliate WEYI-TV in Flint-Saginaw-Bay City, Michigan and CW affiliate WWMB in Myrtle Beach-Florence, South Carolina. The name of the company came from both William's mother's middle name Howard, and his father's middle name, Stirk.[23] Both stations remain operated by Sinclair under a local marketing agreement,[24] which resulted in allegations that the company was simply acting as a "sidecar" of Sinclair to skirt FCC ownership rules. Williams defended the allegations, noting that he had full control over their programming, and received the majority of their revenue.[25]

On December 4, 2014, the FCC approved the transfer of station licenses for WMMP, Charleston, South Carolina, WCFT-TV, Tuscaloosa, Alabama, and WJSU-TV, Anniston, Alabama from Sinclair to Howard Stirk Holdings. Under the arrangement, HSH would operate their future acquisitions as an independent broadcaster, forgoing agreements with third-parties.[25][26][27]

On January 28, 2015, Intermountain West Communications Company filed to sell KVMY to Howard Stirk Holdings. HSH had agreed on January 14 to purchase for $150,000 the stock of the Sinclair subsidiary that was a party to IWCC's sale of KSNV-DT and currently holds the license of KVCW; KVCW and KSNV themselves remain under Sinclair ownership.[28] The transaction was finalized on October 30.[29] Howard Stirk Holdings revealed in its January 2015 application to purchase Las Vegas station KVMY that it again planned to acquire the WLYH-TV license from Nexstar Broadcasting Group. The sale was completed on November 12, 2015.[30]

These transactions made Williams the largest African-American owner of television stations in the United States.[25]

On April 24, 2018, Sinclair announced that as part of its merger with Tribune Media, Howard Stirk Holdings would have acquired Sinclair-owned KUNS-TV in Seattle and KMYU in St. George, Utah, and Tribune-owned KAUT-TV in Oklahoma City.[31] This transaction was canceled once the Tribune deal collapsed in August 2018.

Stations currently owned by Howard Stirk Holdings[edit]

City of license / market Station Channel
Owned since Primary network affiliation
Anniston - Tuscaloosa - Birmingham, AL WGWW 40 (9) 2015 H&I
WSES 33 (33) 2015 H&I
Saginaw - Flint, MI WEYI-TV 1 25 (30) 2013 NBC
Las Vegas, NV KHSV 21 (2) 2015 H&I
Lebanon - Lancaster - York - Harrisburg WXBU 15 (23) 2015 Comet
Charleston, SC WGWG 4 (34) 2015 H&I
Florence - Myrtle Beach, SC WWMB 1 21 (21) 2013 The CW

Other business interests[edit]

Armstrong Williams is sole proprietor of Stirk Real Estate with holdings in the nation's capital.[citation needed]

Williams is a national board member of the Carson Scholars Fund, a 501(c)(3) non-profit charitable organization.[32] He also served on the boards of the Presidents Commission on White House Fellows, under former United States President George W. Bush,[3] the Independence Federal S&L Bank board of directors, and the NEWSMAX Advisory Board.[33]

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


  1. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on May 3, 2013. Retrieved August 27, 2013.
  2. ^ "Equal Employment Opportunity Commission". Retrieved December 6, 2017.
  3. ^ a b "White House Fellowships: Commission Members". Retrieved December 6, 2017.
  4. ^ "Armstrong Williams - The Right Side". Retrieved March 11, 2016.
  5. ^, The Washington Times. "Mass killings of Americans backfire on evil, hate, fear". The Washington Times. Retrieved June 13, 2016.
  6. ^ " - Education Dept. paid commentator to promote law". Retrieved December 6, 2017.
  7. ^ USA Today report on Williams
  8. ^ " - Education Dept. paid commentator to promote law". Retrieved December 6, 2017.
  9. ^ Astor, Dave (January 7, 2005). "Armstrong Williams' Column Axed by TMS". Editor & Publisher. Archived from the original on January 13, 2005. Retrieved January 7, 2016.
  10. ^ a b Astor, Dave (January 10, 2005). "Several Papers Nix Self-Syndicated Armstrong Williams Column". Editor & Publisher. Retrieved January 7, 2016.
  11. ^ a b "Journalist was paid to push Bush education plan". Retrieved December 6, 2017.
  12. ^ a b "Press Briefing by Scott McClellan". Retrieved December 6, 2017.
  13. ^ US Newswire release
  14. ^ "Conversations - Edelman". Retrieved December 6, 2017.
  15. ^ "Home - Public Relations Society of America". Public Relations Society of America. Retrieved December 6, 2017.
  16. ^ "CNN coverage". Retrieved December 6, 2017.
  17. ^ "WNEW PROGRAMMER: WE'VE FOUND OUR NICHE". Retrieved December 6, 2017.
  18. ^ "Urban View - African-American Talk". Retrieved December 6, 2017.
  19. ^ Missing or empty |title= (help)
  20. ^ a b "Armstrong Williams - Biography". Newsmax Media, Inc. Retrieved January 28, 2016.
  21. ^ Boehlert, Eric (January 12, 2005). "No pundit left behind". Salon. Salon Media Group, Inc. Retrieved January 28, 2016.
  22. ^ "Armstrong Williams sexual harassment case ends in settlement". Washington Post. Retrieved December 6, 2017.
  23. ^ "Howard Stirk Holdings". Armstrong Williams. Retrieved December 6, 2017.
  24. ^ Meyers, Jim (28 February 2013). "Armstrong Williams Purchases TV Stations". Newsmax. Retrieved 11 August 2014.
  25. ^ a b c "Armstrong Williams becomes largest black owner of TV stations in America". Washington Times. Retrieved 10 April 2017.
  26. ^ "Making Good on the Promise of Independent Minority Ownership of Television Stations". Federal Communications Commission (FCC). Retrieved 13 December 2014.
  27. ^ "FCC Broadcast Actions". Federal Communications Commission (FCC). Retrieved 13 December 2014.
  28. ^ "Application For Consent To Assignment Of Broadcast Station Construction Permit Or License". CDBS Public Access. Federal Communications Commission. January 28, 2015. Retrieved January 30, 2015.
  29. ^ Consummation Notice CDBS Public Access, Federal Communications Commission, Retrieved 4 November 2015.
  30. ^ "Consummation Notice - Federal Communications Commission". Retrieved December 6, 2017.
  31. ^ Eggerton, John (April 24, 2018). "Sinclair Boosts Spin-Offs in Re-Filed Deal". Broadcasting & Cable. Retrieved April 30, 2018.
  32. ^ Board Of Directors List
  33. ^ "". Retrieved December 6, 2017.

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