Confronted by FOX News host Alan Colmes with Media Matters for America research detailing his criticism of the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) education policy before being paid by the Bush administration to promote it, conservative columnist and TV and radio host Armstrong Williams maintained that he was "unwavering" on NCLB, yet added: "[W]ith anything you don't support it 100 percent, but I would say 98.9 percent of the time on this issue I've stood fiercely beside this issue."
In December 2003, Williams accepted $240,000 from the Bush administration to promote NCLB despite -- as Media Matters reported on January 11 -- having claimed in a May 16, 2001, column that President Bush's decision to drop school vouchers from the bill had "scooped out" the legislation's "soul" and criticizing NCLB on FOX News' The Edge with Paula Zahn on June 25, 2001, as the "[Senator Edward] Kennedy plan."
From Colmes's interview with Williams on the January 28 edition of FOX News' Hannity & Colmes:
COLMES: By the way, Media Matters points out that you criticized this plan before you got paid to promote it. You criticized the No Child Left Behind plan in a column on May 16, 2001 --
COLMES: -- where you said, "By letting vouchers fall by the wayside," which they were doing at [sic] the plan at the time, so you actually went against the plan, and then you wrote more columns in favor of the plan after you signed on to this.
WILLIAMS: Let me be clear. For the last ten years, I have been a strong and vociferous advocate of school vouchers. I've supported No Child Left Behind. I'm unwavering in it. I don't know what column of mine they were reading.
But, obviously, with anything you don't support it 100 percent, but I would say 98.9 percent of the time on this issue I've stood fiercely beside this issue. My advocacy of this issue had nothing to do with the fact that I was being paid.