Armstrong Williams

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  • The Trump Administration Just Helped A Pro-Trump Media Empire Grow

    Blog ››› ››› MATT GERTZ

    Thanks to the deregulatory efforts of President Donald Trump’s Federal Communications Committee, the right-wing Sinclair Broadcast Group announced today that it will purchase dozens of televisions stations across the country, allowing the company to spread its conservative programming to new markets and consolidate the ownership of broadcast stations in fewer hands.

    Sinclair has entered into an agreement to purchase Tribune Media Group, which owns 42 television stations in 33 markets, along with cable, digital, and real estate assets, according to a press release from the companies. Given Sinclair’s existing slate of 173 television stations in 81 markets and its national news operation, the combined broadcast company will become the largest provider of local TV news in the country.

    The move comes at an opportune time if Sinclair hopes to capitalize on recent shakeups at Fox News, with some speculating that the company could even hire Bill O’Reilly in an effort to build a conservative rival to that network.

    The purchase would have been impossible if Trump’s newly appointed FCC chairman, Ajit Pai, had not rolled back a key Obama administration regulation that had prevented Sinclair from further expansion. Pai’s actions will allow a stalwart conservative media mogul to acquire more power.

    Sinclair is helmed by longtime chairman David Smith, the son of the network’s founder, who with his family has heavily funded Republican causes. Smith has wielded his media company in support of his conservative ideology, using the stations “to advance a mostly right-leaning agenda since the presidency of George W. Bush,” according to The New York Times.

    Indeed, every presidential election since that era has featured at least one controversy involving Sinclair’s open support for the Republican nominee.

    In 2004, the network ordered its stations to pre-empt regular programming in order to broadcast a documentary that smeared Sen. John Kerry’s (D-MA) war record. Following a massive grass-roots advertiser boycott, Sinclair backed off its original plan, instead airing a 30-minute special that featured portions of the documentary.

    In 2008, in the swing states of Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Ohio, Sinclair aired a conservative group’s advertisement linking then-Sen. Barack Obama (D-IL) to Weather Underground founder Bill Ayers. CNN and Fox News both declined to run the ad.

    In 2012, the network was back in the spotlight after its stations in Florida and Ohio ran an election special that predominantly smeared Obama.

    And in late 2016, Sinclair reportedly agreed to broadcast its “Trump interviews across the country without commentary” using its “television stations across the country in many swing states” in a deal with the Trump campaign for more access. Sinclair ended up with 15 “exclusive” interviews with Trump, “including 11 during the final three months of the campaign in critical states such as Pennsylvania and Ohio,” and 20 more with top Trump surrogates. In addition, “news stories and features favorable to Trump or that challenged Clinton were distributed to Sinclair stations on a ‘must-run’ basis,” according to The Washington Post.

    Sinclair has also garnered attention for “its refusal to broadcast an episode of ‘Nightline’ devoted to reciting the names of every member of the military killed in action in Iraq” and for “instruct[ing] anchors to read statements supporting Mr. Bush and his administration’s efforts to fight terrorism” following the 9/11 terrorist attacks.

    Sinclair’s original news and public-affairs programming has featured several prominent conservative reporters and commentators. These include Mark Hyman, a top Sinclair executive and conspiracy theorist who provides right-wing commentary for the network; Armstrong Williams, a top advisor to Ben Carson’s presidential campaign who is best known for having received payments from the Bush administration to promote its policies without disclosing that detail in his media commentary; former Trump White House aide Boris Epshteyn; and Sharyl Attkisson, a former CBS News reporter with a lengthy record of shoddy, inaccurate reporting who has pushed a bizarre conspiracy theory that the government hacked her home electronics. The company will also distribute a TV show from the conservative website

    Sinclair’s conservative programming bent has a lot of impact because of the concentration of its stations in presidential swing states. The Tribune purchase will give the network more influence, as Tribune’s television portfolio includes stations in states with high political value, like Pennsylvania, Florida, Colorado, North Carolina, Virginia, Iowa, and Ohio.

    When Trump seeks re-election in 2020, he will be able to count on the support of a massive network of television stations helmed by a conservative who owes his company’s latest growth to the president.

  • Hate Group FAIR Hosting Annual Event With Anti-Immigrant Radio Hosts

    ››› ››› NICK FERNANDEZ

    The Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR) announced that it will hold its “10th annual Hold Their Feet to the Fire radio row broadcast in Washington,” on June 22 and 23. In previous years FAIR has hosted speakers at the event who have used their own radio shows to push anti-immigrant and anti-Muslim sentiment. In addition, the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) has designated FAIR as a hate group whose founder “has expressed his wish that America remain a majority-white population.”

  • The Media Outlets That Haven't Fired Ben Carson

    Out At Fox Over 2016 Bid, He's Still On Board At Washington Times, Creators Syndicate

    Blog ››› ››› JOE STRUPP


    After the publication of this post, David Yontz, managing editor of Creators Syndicate, responded to Media Matters' request for comment about Carson. 

    Yontz said that though Fox News had cut ties with Carson, Creators will not make a decision until he officially announces his presidential plans.

    "Given the Fox thing, I don't think we're concerned about that, but he hasn't officially announced yet, it is looking likely he is going to run. But once he officially announces, we most likely will stop syndicating it, we just have to come up with a solution as to what to do, at that time."

    "It is on our radar, we are thinking of solutions once that does happen. As of right now we are going to keep syndicating the column until further notice."


    Dr. Ben Carson was reportedly dropped as a Fox News contributor over his apparent plans to run for president. But that prospective 2016 bid, which has included a biographical documentary produced by his business manager, is apparently not enough for the Washington Times or Creators Syndicate to sever relations with the surgeon-turned-political commentator.

    Fox News ended its contract with Carson last month shortly before the release of A Breath of Fresh Air, an hour-long documentary that aired on 37 television stations as a paid program in early November. The film was widely viewed as a way to boost Carson's profile for a 2016 Republican presidential bid.

    Despite that, Carson is still listed as "founding publisher" on the masthead of the Times' digital magazine, American Currentsee. Creators Syndicate has also kept its arrangement with Carson, distributing his column to newspapers across the country, including the Times.

    American Currentsee, which is targeted at "conservative blacks," is overseen by executive editor Armstrong Williams, who is also Carson's business manager and whose production company made the Carson documentary. The digital magazine, which is wildly supportive of Carson, often carries columns from both Carson and Williams. It recently devoted an entire issue to the topic, "Is Ben Carson in? How he could lead, how he could win."

    Williams, whose own syndicated column is also carried by the Times, said Carson has not announced for president and until he does he has the right to write as he pleases.

    "He's a syndicated columnist, he's not running for president, in fact I don't know anyone who has announced they are running for president, do you? Has anybody on the Democratic or Republican side that has announced for president," Williams said in a phone interview. "You know what, as his business manager, the last thing I want him to do is run for president. But you know what? That's the American way. If you are 35 years old and if you're a U.S. citizen you can make a decision to run and the American people can make a decision on whether you're the best candidate for this country or not."

    Neither Creators, which syndicated Carson's most recent piece on December 3, nor The Washington Times have responded to requests for comment.

    Williams claimed that the documentary that led to the termination of Carson's Fox News relationship should not affect Carson's Times connections or those he has with newspapers that run his column through Creators.

    "That has to do with the fact that we aired a documentary that I produced and Fox News said it was a conflict with the contract and so we made a decision to air the documentary and they made a decision to cut ties. That was a business decision," he said about the Fox issue. 

  • Armstrong Williams Debunks Armstrong Williams

    Blog ››› ››› JAMISON FOSER

    Armstrong Williams does not understand what "default" means:

    I agree; no one wants to default on our debts. But folks, we're in default now. Simply raising the credit limit on your Visa credit card doesn't keep you solvent. It just means you'll have a more difficult time repaying such debts.

    Untrue! Being in debt is not the same thing as being in default.

    More Armstrong Williams -- just two paragraphs later:

    Others, like Rep. Michele Bachmann and Sen. Rand Paul, are steadfast in their refusal to give the Fed any more debt leeway. This begs the question of what, in fact, would happen if we don't raise the ceiling? Contrary to popular belief, the government won't suddenly go into default once the debt ceiling is reached. The fact of the matter is that there is enough cash coming in to pay its commitments for the next several months.

    The moral of the story? Armstrong Williams has no idea what he's talking about. He's just tossing around words like "default" and "solvent," along with a flawed analogy or two, in hopes that people think he does. Pay him no attention.

  • Armstrong Williams Wants America To Emulate Saudi Arabia's Approach To Religion

    Blog ››› ››› JAMISON FOSER

    I try not to pay much attention to the annual bleating from conservatives that Christmas isn't accorded sufficient respect. As far as I'm concerned, these paranoid ramblings serve the limited (but useful) purpose of identifying people who are not to be taken seriously. But Armstrong Williams has produced an argument that is so spectacularly dumb -- even by the standards of "war on Christmas" fabulists -- that I can't let it go without response.

    Armstrong sets things up with some garden-variety nonsense:

    Non-believers have even targeted our language. If you go into a CVS Pharmacy, or a Barnes & Noble, or a Radio Shack, or a Staples (or many others) this Christmas season, you're going to be wished "Happy Holidays" instead of "Merry Christmas."

    Note that Williams conflates "don't use our language" with "targeted our language." That is, what Williams describes as non-believers targeting "our" language is simply people choosing not to use that language. But that's nothing more than low-level persecution complex. It's what comes next that is impressively stupid:

    The stores claim this change is being carried out in the name of diversity. After all, you wouldn't want to offend a Muslim by wishing him a Merry Christmas. (Try using that same argument to ban "Happy Ramadan!" in Saudi Arabia.)

    Here, Williams conflates saying "Happy Holidays" with banning "Merry Christmas," as if Radio Shack will toss him from the store by the scruff of his neck if he wishes a clerk "Merry Christmas" while buying a package of nine-volts. And then, incredibly, he suggests that Americans should be no more sensitive towards religious diversity than Saudi Arabia is. Saudi Arabians would never tolerate someone saying "Happy Holidays" -- so neither should America!

    The competition is stiff, but there's very little chance you'll read a dumber passage this week. Sadly, this is becoming a trend among right-wing commentators: In July, Newt Gingrich wrote "There should be no mosque near Ground Zero in New York so long as there are no churches or synagogues in Saudi Arabia."

    I'm confused: Do conservatives believe in "American exceptionalism," or do they want America to be more like Saudi Arabia?

  • Armstrong Williams -- who received and didn't disclose Bush administration money to promote NCLB -- criticized Ifill for book deal


    Conservative radio host Armstrong Williams criticized vice-presidential debate moderator Gwen Ifill over her upcoming book about African-American political leaders, saying she "should have disclosed" it, and that it is "ultimately impossible" for her not to favor Sen. Barack Obama, because she has a "financial stake" in his winning the presidency. However, beginning in 2003, Williams did not disclose that he received $240,000 in Education Department funds to promote No Child Left Behind. The Government Accountability Office found that the Department of Education's actions constituted "covert propaganda" in violation of the law.

  • Armstrong Williams: NY Times story on McCain "causes those of us in the media to lose credibility"


    On MSNBC Live, Armstrong Williams said of the New York Times article on Sen. John McCain's relationship with a telecommunications lobbyist, "I think what it does more than anything else, it causes those of us in the media to lose credibility. People begin to question what we print, whether there's any truth to it, whether we do our research." But Williams himself has been embroiled in controversy that undermined his "credibility," reportedly receiving $240,000 from the Bush administration to promote President Bush's No Child Left Behind legislation.

  • Armstrong Williams: By "B-word," Thomas just meant that sexual-harassment plaintiff is "a tough broad"


    On Hardball, during a discussion of a sexual-harassment lawsuit against Isiah Thomas, Armstrong Williams asserted, "I think sometimes guys use it [the word "bitch"], like, let's say, for Isiah Thomas, if the woman did spurn his advances and if she found him offensive and did not give him the kind of attention that he's accustomed to getting from women, because he's supposed to be the celebrated athlete and not president of the New York Knicks, then he referred to her as a B, because he did not get her way. Still, he's implying here she's a tough broad."