January 26, 2023
Season 4 - Episode 1
The Media Losing Credibility
Americans distrust the media today more than ever. According to Gallup polling over the last 50 years, confidence in newspapers has plummeted from 39% in 1972 to 11% in 2022. Television news is fairing even worse, dropping from 48% in 1993 to 11% in 2022.
In this episode of Policy & Pound Cake, #TheBassSisters talk with veteran communicator Armstrong Williams about the demise of the fourth estate, the importance of free speech and the dangers of censoring voices in a democratic republic.
“The media has really shirked its responsibility and have become activists instead of journalists.” - Armstrong Williams
About Armstrong Williams:
Armstrong Williams is a pugnacious, provocative and principled voice for conservative and Christian values in America's public debate. With properties in Europe and the United States, Williams is a multifaceted entrepreneur.
An avid reader, art collector, and third-generation Republican, Williams has become a multi-media wonder, taking stands for what's right on radio and television, in print and cyberspace. Focusing on issues such as the work ethic, personal responsibility, welfare reform, affirmative action, and especially the restoration of morality in today's society, he brings an independent view with a refreshing twist to the central issues of our day.
Williams’ daily and nationally syndicated television show on Sinclair Broadcast network affiliates, The Armstrong Williams Show, is broadcast live every Saturday on News Channel 8 in DC, Maryland, and Virginia. The program features human interest and political topics, including interviews with leading lights and experts from across the political spectrum.
Finally, he is the CEO of Howard Stirk Holdings, a holdings company that owns broadcast television stations around the United States, designating Williams as the largest broadcast television owner in the United States.
Policy & Pound Cake
Guest: ARMSTRONG WILLIAMS
Audio for Transcription
Hello, I'm Dee Dee Bass Wilbon. And I'm Dee Dee Bass Williams. And we are the Bass Sisters, and This is Season 4 of Policy & Pound Cake.
As many of you know, Policy & Pound Cake began as a series of communications roundtables that we were going to host in person. The first one was to happen on March 17th, 2020. You know what happened in March 2020. We got shut down and locked in.
Well, we are going back to our roots, and we can think of no better way to start season four than with master communicator Armstrong Williams. Take a listen.
Dee Dee: (01:10)
So hello, and in full disclosure to our audience, we are so excited to have our guest today. He is a mentor, Deana, and I consider him a dear friend, and we are so blessed by his wise counsel and extremely tough love, even when we don't want it all the time. Armstrong, you are a serial entrepreneur, you are a writer, you are a media mogul world traveler, but after today, you will be able to add Policy & Pound Cake guest to that long list of accomplishments. That is just absolutely wonderful. Don't you think?
ARMSTRONG WILLIAMS: (01:49)
Anytime I am with The Bass Sisters and pound cake and the impact and the lives that you all so richly touch and enhance, I'm always honored to be on your platform, and that is, it's just a fact. I have much respect for you and your family and what you continue to accomplish in this country, and how much you love this country.
Well, thank you so much.
Thank you, we appreciate that. And we're going to get started here with a clip. So let's take a listen.
ARMSTRONG WILLIAMS: CLIP: (02:22)
The Twitter files confirmed that Republicans were right. Twitter employees colluded with Democrats and the FBI to censor the New York Post story on Hunter Biden's laptop and interfered with the 2020 election. You cannot refute it. Twitter employees suspended, banned or censor users who communicated or posted on Hunter Biden's laptop. Twitter had acted on orders from the government. Top lawyers of Twitter's legal team had direct contact with an FBI agent. And the agent was asked to use these lawyers to tweet links to the Hunter Biden laptop. And the current government decided to take away the first Amendment rights from individual Americans to take away their Twitter and Facebook platforms. The Twitter files showed that on at least one occasion, the Biden team instructed employees to remove politically inconvenient content in October 2020 just because just before Biden was elected President of the United States. Twitter employees felt that they were acting as an online KGB censoring everyday Americans shutting them down, intimidating them and threatening them with being removed. I'm Armstrong Williams. And these are the facts.
These are the facts. Okay, so Armstrong saw the firestorm when Elon Musk took over Twitter. He became very transparent, released what has become known as Twitter Files, showing collaboration or at least coordination of some sort between the Biden Administration.
But do you even think that Americans knew about the coordination, and why are they not so outraged about it? Or are they even aware of the coordination?
Well, Armstrong, do you think that Americans are aware that there was actual coordination between Twitter and the Biden Administration, and why isn't the media covering it? It didn't make a splash.
ARMSTRONG WILLIAMS: (04:32)
Well, obviously, for mainstream media to cover it, it would be in an indictment of the Fourth Estate. The reason why the Biden Administration can use these tech giants to censor and shut down particularly conversation about the pandemic covid-19, so there's only one side presented, so they can continue their herd mentality, their indoctrination and controlling of people is that the media gives them a pass. Once the media decides that it is no longer a neutral arbitor, that it is no longer a referee, but it decides to be an activist in the game with the Biden administration, they lose their credibility and then lose their standing. And while the American people can't necessarily put their finger on it, they can obviously see something that is so obvious and why media, what they choose to ignore. Once these Twitter files are released by Elon Musk, they have this aha moment. And what it does, it further erodes the trust in the fourth estate. People don't…they turn off the media. They don't know what they believe any more. And it gives credibility to these social media platforms that are hardly investigated, hardly have to live up to the same standard to someone that may own major daily newspapers or broadcast television. So the media has really shirked its responsibility and have become activists instead of journalists.
You made an interesting point that newspapers - you, as a media owner, you have a different responsibility than Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, even Pinterest, TikTok, owned by China. Do you think social media platforms should be regulated like news outlets?
ARMSTRONG WILLIAMS: (06:19)
Yes, and that's what the FCC Title 203 is about before the FCC and before Congress. I think what it boils down to Dee Dee and Deana is that, as a practical matter, you should embody virtues where there should be compassion. But you must have the honesty, the prudence, the temperance and the outrage, especially over what we saw with the Biden Administration and how many people are so censored.
And then you ask ourselves, in our public and private lives, is there a significant contrast and counterpoint to the shrill virtue signaling that has become all the rage among woke Americans?
The bottom line is that people have to understand what people care about. They don't really care about what you call yourself as a media platform. They don't really care about whether you're a Republican or a Democrat. They care about the values that we believe are traditional to the way of life for Americans. And that gives their children a chance, not only at the American Dream, but America still being a safe haven.
And so what happens is when you reduce yourself to a party label, you believe that you get must champion that party's ideas whether it's in the best interests of the country or not. And what people care about is whether you're honest, whether you're factual, whether I can trust you, whether you have credibility. And when you lose that, you begin to lose the fabric of what a society is.
No different than what happened with former President Trump and Mara Lago, and in the classified information. Now we find out that while they were raiding Mara Lago, Biden his former office, VP had the same classified documents in an office that was being paid for by the Chinese. What does it do? It brings into question America's first family and how deeply those ties are, especially when you're spending 54 million dollars and paying the President a salary of one million dollars, and that salary is tied to Chinese funding. The question is whether or not the Chinese who was paying this kind of money had access to that kind of information. Whether they were accessing the classified information. And what Biden does, he either had a senile moment, or a lyng moment. It's one or the other. He is either senile, or he is lying. There's no in-between, and the American people realize. And so, while they may be telling the truth about it, Trump and Mara Lago, it may be factual, but when you have one standard for Trump and another standard for Biden, you become unbelievable, and people don't trust you, and they see just the obvious hypocrisy of the reporting
DEE DEE: (09:09)
Armstrong Deana and I call that selective outrage. Selective outrage and cancel culture, its really very, very important to us as communicators, and especially as conservative communicators. And so when we were talking about Elon Musk, and we talk about this the other day, when Elon Musk, when he decided to purchase Twitter and the Hollywood elites decided that they were not going to stay on Twitter because they didn't like how he was doing things or the changes that he was making. And in my opinion, he was somewhat being canceled by that group because of his beliefs
His and desire for transparency, whether you like him or not.
But they wanted to just in a sense cancel him. As a media person. Have you ever had to deal with cancel culture?
ARMSTRONG WILLIAMS: (10:02)
I think the question that we ask ourselves, Dee Dee and Deana, is, did we need fact-checkers and cancel culture to end the thousand-year idea that slavery was natural as Aristotle once said? And did we need fact-checkers and all the things that we have today, to guide our founding father's hand in writing our constitution? No. What we needed was the natural. What do I mean by that? Unfiltered flow of ideas from one person to another. In the past, the free flow of ideas was at full throttle. They were. And so rational thought spread like wildfire without the need for social media, and so irrational thought died with a few patrons who consumed it.
So the world was changed by the thoughts of a few ordinary people who dared to think. You dared to think. And of course, people disagree and some even became violent, but a person is right, in my opinion, to open their lips and unleash volumes of unique ideas upon their neighbors should never, ever, ever be stifled by vitriol that their thoughts could create.
And the other thing too is today, the problem is, in my opinion, speech is reserved for the powerful few, the celebrities, the social media companies and the traditional media companies. Any thought Deana and Dee Dee that deviates from their message is met with what? Swift, unrelenting punishment, now known as cancelation. This is what cancel culture is. And too often, we hear of individuals having their lives destroyed. Look at Mike Lindell. Look at Donald Trump. Look at others whose who are conservative. Seemingly innocuous acts that can hardly be said to be representative of them. But atop of throne, it is easy to step on ants. Each day, in my opinion, brings new ants for the powerful few to step on. And they see us as ants. The enemy of yesterday become old news, forgotten and thrown into the grave of unwanted souls. And so what happens? A new target is found for them to take aim, fire and destroy. There's a new target every day. Elon Musk was their target. Donald Trump was their target. Kevin McCarthy is now their target. Anybody who's conservative. Diamond and Silk were their targets. Yes, Diamond and Silk. We remember the soul of Lynette Hardaway. But they were their target.
So labels make it easy to destroy people. That is a problem. They ship burdens of proof to the party being labeled. And the party of being labored are conservatives. And so they make it impossible to wipe away to label once it is given, and so that's the culture and that's the atmosphere we find ourselves in today.
We’re about to wrap-up, but I'm remembering something that you actually said about media when we were at our conference that we host, Bass Public Affairs. You mentioned free speech is not free unless you own the media. What do you mean? Tell us about that. What does that mean to you?
ARMSTRONG WILLIAMS: (13:29)
What does it mean to own something beyond definitions are even illustrations? I'm talking about the responsibility and the accountability that comes with owning something and only something of intrinsic worth. How does that make a person feel? Imagine the sheer sense of satisfaction, achievement and stewardship that envelops you when a valuable asset becomes your property, like Pound Cake. That's your property. Your home, that's so property. Yours to create and to contribute; yours to develop or destroy. While ownership has its benefits, it also has its burdens. You know what the burdens are. You gotta make those ends meet. You gotta make money. Your clients must pay. You understand that. So seven years ago, 14, 15 years ago, I seized on an opportunity which offered me the chance to own television stations across this great country. And I can tell you that experience which I still am living today through more acquisitions has transformed my life in a very dramatic way. I first tasted the thrill and it is a thrill of communications and a public life as you did at an early age. And the experience of ownership makes you more responsible, more accountable, not more controlling, not more manipulative, because you realize it's a gift from God.
Nothing that we own will last forever. And when you see it a s a spiritual gift which you must share, you must have honor. You must have credibility. You must have integrity, and you cannot use it as a weapon. And what people do, as they did with slavery, as they did with the holocaust, as criminals do a crime, they use it as a weapon. They weaponized it to destroy people, to destroy institutions and to destroy livelihoods. And so ownership to me is a gift of God. And when it comes from God, I must act in a responsible moral way, because because all those people I corrupt along the way, when I have to give an account when I die, I am responsible. People can disregard the consequences of their ownership depending on what and whom they believe in. Because my faith is something greater than myself, I am accountable to the laws of God, natural law, not the laws of men. And so therefore, I'm held to a standard that spiritually, I work hard every day because I find the hardest work I do every day, Dee Dee and Deana, it's when I work on myself, I was a day.
And generally, when I worked on myself 24 hours a day, I realize the communication world that I own, improves and the people that work for me automatically improves. We're so busy working on somebody else that we forget to work on her own house. So when I say there's no such thing as freedom of speech unless you own the media, and that is because of the gift that has been given me as this gift on ownership. And so Americans should welcome this change and major television networks and people like us who own the media who have the ability to influence people should not take that lightly. Ownership is a powerful virtue, one that should flow down like the waters of freedom and opportunity of freedom in this great, great republic. And what I try to do is embrace these trends celebrate the gift and leave the criticism aside and do what is morally correct, and when I fall short, I apologize for it, not make excuses for it, but work on myself a better broadcast owner every day.
DEE DEE: (17:02)
Armstrong, you know that we absolutely value you. We appreciate everything that you do and you do so much for so many. When you talk about working on yourself, we know that you get up 0'dark 30 - super early in the morning, so your day starts extremely early, but before we wrap up, I do have two really quick questions. You are an avid reader. You are an art collector when you are just... Which is probably not often, but when you are just chilling out and just on doing your calm down time, what do you like to read? What type of books do you read?
ARMSTRONG WILLIAMS: (17:41)
I love reading books that feed my soul I'd love to read because there's nothing new and that the sun. When you read Marcus Aurelius. You read Frederick Douglass. You read Up From Slavery. You read Sojourner Truth. Even if you read Augustus Ceascar or Abraham Lincoln, one of the common themes is morality - that there's nothing new under the sun. Whatever you pour into life, whatever you put into it is exactly what you're gonna get out of it. And one of the things that all these great men and women had in common is that they realize that their lives belong to God and not to men. They had a moral responsibility to be good and passed that good on others 'cause it's the good that will be remembered when it's all said and done. Because remember, when we close our eyes, we take our last breath on earth in our first breath, in heaven or purgatory, and so what really matters in life is what you do for at least among us. But have you left the world better than you found it, so reading the great classics. And also on the phone with just with my brothers and sisters, reminiscing about our childhood which reminds us of who we are and why we are. And what our parents poured into us, and I realized that greatest gift God ever gave me was being born with the right mother and the right father, because I just don't see the blessings of their values, and God's words, which is on my heart and myself, I see it through the success of my brothers and sisters. It's not an anomaly. It's not just one, it just shows you that the power of that parents can have on their children for generations to come. And that's the what's, particularly with fathers not being in the household.
Telling young men what it means to be a man and young women, what they look for in a man. I think the greatest devastation for our society and now. And you can see it in the classroom. Men are no longer in the classroom, and these kids don't really respect a thread in the classroom until we get fathers and build their families back, because the teachers can't do it, law enforcement can't do it. Parents must get back to the responsibility, which is why I admire you and your husband so much because your most important job you do as a mother to your son into your daughter.
DEE DEE: (19:57)
Final question. You know, we love Pound Cake. That's our go-to dessert with a cup of coffee or something else to drink, what is your go-to dessert you with your family on one of your nice trips.
No, what is your go-to start when you're talking policy and politics?
I love myself a peach cobbler and ice cream.
I can see you as a peach cobbler person.
Lord knows I don't need it, but I wanna tell my momma used to cook a mean peach cobbler And I can still taste it.. Yeah, my go-to-dessert is peach cobbler.
This has been so fun, we really do appreciate it and we thank you so much, but.
That was fun.
It was you know I enjoy talking to Armstrong and listening to him share his wisdom with us.
He is in the trenches. He's a media owner. He is a communicator. So he definitely understands the importance of free speech and freedom of the press. It is always important to hear from people like him. We have known him for years and he has been both a mentor and a sponsor.
We love that council from our mom. She talks about the difference between a mentor and sponsor. A mentor someone gives you wise counsel which we need. But a sponsor is someone is someone who's going to open the door and say, "Hey, hire these people. Higher The Bass Sisters and he's been both."
Please like, share and follow follow Policy & Pound Cake. stay with us in Season 4. It's gonna be awesome.
It's all about communications.