Don Williams
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Don Williams is a prize-winning columnist, blogger, fiction writer, sometime TV commentator, and is the founder and editor emeritus of New Millennium Writings, an annual anthology of stories, essays and poems. His awards include a National Endowment for the Humanities Journalism Fellowship at the University of Michigan, a Golden Presscard Award from Sigma Delta Chi Society of Professional Journalists, a best Commentary Award from SDC, Best Feature Writing from the Associated Press Tennessee Managing Editors, the Malcolm Law Journalism Prize from the Associated Press, Best Non-Deadline Reporting from the United Press International, Best Novel Excerpt from the Knoxville Writers Guild, a Peacemaker Award from the Oak Ridge Environmental Peace Alliance, five Writer of the Month Awards from the Scripps Howard Newspaper chain, and many others. In 2011 he was inducted into the East Tennessee Writers Hall of Fame. His 2005 book of journalism, Heroes, Sheroes and Zeroes is under revision for a second printing, and he is at work on a novel and a book of journalism. His columns appear at and have been featured at many other well-known websites. To run his column, gratis, at your website, post this link to a dedicated spot: Need a speaker, panelist, tv commentator or teacher for your group or to lead a writing workshop, in your town? Email

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National media is to blame for Schwarzenegger fiasco
(Copyright by Don Williams, All rights reserved   10/10/2003)

Could be the good people of California have elected a sexual batterer and sometime Hitler admirer as their next governor. At the very least they've elected a self-absorbed exhibitionist whose movies glamorize sex and violence.

It really boggles the mind. Once again the national media has shown what a gutless, pandering institution it has largely become, treating the California recall election as if it were a horserace instead of committing itself to finding out the truth about Arnold Schwarzenegger's bizarre history.

After 15 women, and counting, came forward and accused the actor of sexual battery and other crimes. After a book proposal surfaced containing sly praise for Hitler. After old interviews popped up in which the actor admitted posing for a gay porn magazine and taking part in group sex, including one instance of several men "jumping all over" one woman, the overwhelming reaction in the electronic media was to speculate ad nauseam on how these late-breaking accusations would affect the election.

Instead of contacting the women and reporters who told their stories. Instead of checking the authenticity of the book proposal containing praise for Hitler. Instead of learning more about Schwarzenegger's drug and sex parties. Instead of surveying his many movies to get a feel for the sex and violence portrayed. Instead of looking into political backgrounds of people surrounding Schwarzenegger, the media mostly went into "see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil" mode.

These are serious matters. If the charges against Schwarzenegger are true--and a survey of several reputable sources show many of them likely are--then he's unfit to be anyone's governor. If untrue, then his accusers should be exposed as liars.

Of course, big media's perverse methods should be no surprise by now. Lamentably, the press--especially TV and radio--has fallen into a tradition of sloughing off the hard, investigative work necessary to get at the facts, even in matters of life and death and human destiny.

Our government sent men and women into harm's way in Iraq based on specious claims if not outright lies, but instead of debunking tales of stockpiled weapons and Iraq's implied connection to 9-11 before the invasion, and instead of assessing our own government's history of complicity in some of Saddam's mass killings, the electronic media filled the airwaves with soaring violins, slogans, flags and talking heads who personally attacked people who spoke out against war.

But it didn't start there. In his book "Lies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them," Al Franken documents how big media parroted the lie that Al Gore claimed to have invented the Internet. Just a little digging would have revealed the context in which he said, "During my service in Congress, I took the initiative in creating the Internet." He was expressing pride for his leading role over many years in passing legislation in the House and Senate that turned the old military Arapanet into the Internet by appropriating research money and regulating phone lines and such. He never claimed to have invented computer chips or written code. That would have been ridiculous. But instead of giving Gore credit for using his power to change the world, the media allowed itself to be used by rumormongers and character assassins. It did so again by repeating stories that Gore claimed to be the model for the male protagonist in "Love Story." Again, a minimum of digging would have shown Gore only commented in passing on a story in The Tennessean, a newspaper that quoted author Erich Segal--possibly erroneously--as saying "Love Story" was inspired by Gore. Equally offensively, the media treated Gore's quarter century of national government service as of no more moment than Bush's short stint as governor of Texas.

The press similarly rolled over in its coverage of the McCain vs. Bush campaign in the 2000 Republican primary, failing to investigate who was responsible for the systematic phone canvassing in South Carolina that used racial slurs and innuendos about McCain's children to slime his character. Seldom did the press bother to compare Bush's suspect military record to McCain's heroic one.

Big media owes it to the country to tell the full story about our leaders and prospective leaders. They've woefully let us down in the cases of McCain, Gore, Bush and now Schwarzenegger. A thousand media editorialists, columnists and talking heads should have shouted the obvious from the rooftops before the California election--Arnold Schwarzenegger is not fit to be governor of California or any other state. Instead, big media once again sold out its role as champion of the truth in exchange for that of horserace promoter.