Mar 22 2007
10:23 am

Fire! Polite Applause
My Final Column for

By Don Williams

Barring a change of heart* on someone else's part, this is my last column for Knoxviews. Here's all I know about the reasons why. On Monday, Randy Neal left half-a-message on my answering machine telling me he was cutting me back...

Click here to continue reading...

Just kidding. Yes, it's my last column but not because of any strained relations or secret maneuverings. Relations with Randy have been open and generous. The reasons my column's moving on are known to all interested parties. In short, Dane Baker at Knoxville Voice, the progressive bi-weekly magazine, has offered me a long-term deal to write for that publication, and I've accepted. I'll leave it to the Voice to make any further announcements regarding this turn of events.

My four-week run here at Knoxviews has been a happy one. It's helped me leave the News-Sentinel without missing a beat and with more money in my pocket. In fact, I've sailed more formal opinion out over the Internet and across Knoxville in the past month than at any period in my career to date. Buzzflash, OpedNews and other websites have picked up columns, extending my reach tremendously.

It's been bracing to see, during our national state of denial, distraction and dysfunctional Big Media just how dedicated to truth writers and editors such as Randy Neal and Dane Baker remain.


Networks and big newspapers from the New York Times to the Knoxville News-Sentinel have failed the public outrageously the past decade when it comes to issues of impeachment, elections, global warming, human rights and the so-called War on Terror, among others. Through it all, many in media have been complicit with the forces of destruction and dishonest with the public. That sad beat goes on.

When a courageous journalist occasionally points out that something horrible is happening, it's as if someone stands in a crowded restaurant, points and screams "Fire!" and everyone applauds politely, then turns back to devour shrimp and cheesecake. Examples abound.

* Reporter Seymour Hersh, writing in the New Yorker, reveals that America stands cocked and loaded, poised to bomb hell out of Iran at a moment's notice, with a fleet in the Persian Gulf complete with Patriot missiles, aircraft carriers, submarines and more. Yes, it's common knowledge now, but it took months for this story to get any traction on the networks.

* Next comes Hersh's astonishing revelation in the March 5 New Yorker that Bush is providing money to terrorists linked to al-Qaeda in order to make illegal war on their Shia enemies in Iran. Yes. Bush is funding al-Qaeda! And you're right. This should be show-stopping news.

* Now we hear that Khalid Shaykh Mohammed (KSM, as some say) has admitted to 31 heinous crimes or attempted crimes, including masterminding 9/11, personally beheading journalist Daniel Pearl, bombing the World Trade Center in 1993. He's admitted to everything short of assassinating Kennedy and sinking the Maine. Hmmm, a few more seconds of water-boarding maybe….

* Now you have scientists predicting both the north polar ice cap and Antarctica are melting away, followed by Al Gore on Capitol Hill warning on Wednesday of a global emergency.

I could go on to discuss the new nukes being planned for England and America at Cold War levels, including new Hydrogen bombs and many other outrages, but in the interests of brevity, let's take the case of KSM.

You'd think Big Media would respond in one of two ways to a story like that. Either it's all true, or else something fraudulent and evil elicited a string of lies from the terrorist. If it's true that he's guilty of all he's admitted to, this should be the biggest media story since 9/11. I can imagine this headline:

Bust of the Century: 9/11 Mastermind Admits to 31 Crimes. Or this one…

Call Off the War On Terror, We Caught The Guy. Or…

Torture Works! 31 Crimes Solved!

But if the experts in Big Media deem KSM to be lying about anything on the list, you'd think they would report the disturbing news that our government is fabricating and torturing and holding kangaroo courts to beat the band. In that case, one might imagine a headline like:

Bush Administration Tortures Man Into Unbelievable Confessions. Or like…

Tortured Man Denied Right to Call Witnesses. Or…

Once Again a Terrorist is Tortured Into Telling Whoppers.

So how did Big Media play this story? They tried having it both ways naturally.

They politely applauded, then went back to dining on roast Britney and warmed over Anna Nicole. For instance, the day the story broke, NBC News led with a report about Alberto Gonzales, followed that up with something forgettable, maybe another ho-hum death-dealing car-bomb attack in our mind-numbing war in Iraq, then played the story about the KSM masterminding 9/11 and some 30 other crimes third! in the evening news report.

So what else is new? As I wrote in my March 22 column for Knoxville Voice, "I found it amusing when ABC News told us on March 13--as if breaking a major investigation--how a man codenamed Curveball convinced our government that Saddam possessed mobile labs for making anthrax. Many of us had commented on such lies for years, not only about Curveball, but also about other Iraqi stooges that lured us into this quagmire in Iraq.

"Listen up. The following should be a mantra.

"Much of our pre-war intelligence came from three sources.

"A man code-named Curveball, who we bribed.

"A man named Chalibi, who conned us.

"And a man named al-Libi, who we tortured into telling lies."

I can prove the truth of the entire mantra, which I document in the Voice article, to any reasonable jury, and this is what the American public ideally should be, in a manner of speaking. Unfortunately, major media have been complicit in duping the jury by applauding politely as the courthouse of international norms burns down, igniting fires that threaten the world.

Alternative outlets like Knoxviews, Knoxville Voice, Buzzflash, Truthout, CommonDreams and OpedNews demonstrate, however, that not all media go along with mass deceptions that endanger the world. In the end they just might save us all.

Copyright © 2007 by Don Williams, All Rights Reserved

(Ed. note: We had hoped to have Don's column around longer, but it was meant to be a limited engagement in the first place. With a popular and talented writer like Don, however, it should be no surprise that he found a more permanent home so quickly. So thanks, Don, and best of luck to you with the Knoxville Voice. They made a good catch, and it is a great match for both of you. Cheers!)

*Humorous reference to a phrase that is becoming all too familiar to Don's readers. Scroll down at that link to see Don's last column at the KNS. The Editor.

Andy Axel's picture

You'll be missed here -- but

You'll be missed here -- but congrats on the new gig.


People getting rich. Some people saying "Markets!" More death. Neil Young. Death.

River Dog's picture

Congrats? I feel sorrow !


I happened read that publication you are going to work for. They seem more about glorifying local criminals (latest edition). It is a hard left anarchist publication. I don’t see you fitting in with them. What gives?

rikki's picture

feel this

What is your problem? The paper is free, and the words are still Don's.

Ignore the rest of the paper. This is America, and nobody gives a fuck what you read and what you don't, at least not for the moment, while Alberto is pre-occupied.

River Dog's picture

The paper is free because nobody would ever buy one

Knoxville Voice is a sad place to land. Poor Don.

Andy Axel's picture

-libi on the label

"A man named Chalibi, who conned us.

"And a man named al-Libi, who we tortured into telling lies."

And then there's always Scooter Libby.


People getting rich. Some people saying "Markets!" More death. Neil Young. Death.

Knoxquerious's picture

He is leveraging for more

He is leveraging for more money Randy, pay him! Just kidding :)

Sounds like a good fit, Knox Voice is an interesting publication. Best of luck, don't be a stranger round here.

MartyD's picture

Don Williams

Keep telling the truth, Don! Civilized folks are paying attention.

Terry Troll's picture

Now I am going to have to

Now I am going to have to read Knox Voice and Knoxviews. Stay there Don, I am running out of time in the day.I will have to make time by dropping KNS.
Good luck.

foo's picture

will your new desk be next

will your new desk be next to Noam's?

Don Williams's picture

I already do, Ivor. What

I already do, Ivor. What does Japanese Noise Rock on the Lower East Side refer to?

cathyk's picture


Congratulations, Don! Keep the truth coming - so many of us out here are counting on it.

Carole Borges's picture

What a great turn of events this has been, Don!

How wonderful that your voice has been unleashed and that so many more people are hearing your words now. A lot of folks don't even bother to buy the Sentinel. What might have seemed like a bad thing has become a good thing. But then isn't that always the way it is in life? When you commit yourself to stand up for what you believe and your heart is good, usually the Universe responds with rewards. You're living proof of that--Write on!

Carole Ann Borges

Carole Borges's picture

It is a hard left anarchist publication.

Couldn't we just say Left?

Or "progressive"?

Or maybe just a diverse voice in a sea of newspapers proven to be owned, operated, and beholden to right-wing conservative politicians?

There is room enough in our hearts and minds for a variety of opinions, the more the merrier.

It seems important that everyone's voice is heard. Thinking people can sort out things and come to their own conclusions.

Obviously Don didn't "fit in" with the paper who wanted to forbid him to write about national issues.

One man's news is another man's propaganda. It's up to us to listen to those we think are off-track. If we only read newspapers that agree with us, that's not very challenging. Open minds that want to grow, and maybe even change, need to be able to access a diversity of views.

Actually, the issue I have of the Knoxville Voice has many columns and articles that are not really all that radical. They're addressing concerns many people are interested in knowing more about.

Don't give up on Don. He's still Don. Usually what he says is very important.

River Dog's picture

Hmm, I'd say Hard left and negative

They can print what they want.

River Dog's picture

Which newspapers are beholden to the right wing?

They're in business to make money,by magnifying and exploiting,by increasing tension, passion and anger to increase cirulation. I don't think they care about any of their writers. Just increased sales. Right or left they're about making money or they couldn't do it Unless they're NPR.

Why doesn't the voice hire an ultra conservative writer?

1chris's picture

Time to Move Along from Preaching to the Choir

Don, PLEASE try to branch out even further with your writings; other Net "papers," such as World Net Daily and the John Birch Society, would likely also welcome your insightfully investigative and expository journalism. The challenge is not getting the "finger-pointers" to hear, but getting them to LISTEN!

Don Williams's picture

Thanks, Carol, River Dog,

Thanks, Carol, River Dog, 1Chris, et. al. KnoxVoice is not a landing pad, it's a launch pad. I've also just been asked to be a contributing editor to Media With Conscience ((link...)) where I'll join Greg Palast (who's done fantastic work for the London Telegraph and others, also William Durst, Norman Solomon and other prestigious writers. I'll be blogging and syndicating a weekly column in other markets, and freelancing. As for glorifying a local criminal, I didn't read the interview in Knoxville Voice that way. Yes, the story about the appeal of the crack conviction is splashy and looks radical at first glance, but it's only because mainstream media doesn't cover the drug gulag in our country. That's the real tragedy. Don't judge the publication on the basis of one issue. Read several before making up your mind. Yes, Knoxville Voice is liberal, progressive, radical, whatever. It protests secret government, torture, the activities of the School of the Americas, the building of more nukes in Oak Ridge and much else, but in case you missed it, this country's in trouble. The pro-war anti-environmental right has taken over our government and much of our mainstream media. They impeached a good president on a technicality, stole the election for a disaster named Dubya, took us to a war based on lies and much else. It's the far right threatening the health and security of the planet just now by promoting new wars, new nukes and covering up the reality of global warming and worse. At least Knoxvoice is standing up to be counted. I say good for us. Honestly, I miss the NS like a 22-year toothache. I feel like a new person. I'm actually enjoying my Fridays again. My best to all.

River Dog's picture

Drug Gulag

Maybe Perry can come live with you, or maybe you all can hire him as a security guard there at the Voice, since his gun and crack slinging days are all behind him right?

I say legalize all drugs and let the Perry Red's destroy themselves in a few months.

Good luck on the work. I know a lot of reporters from the print and it seems talent like yourself is not valued by the Sentinel. Glad a dentist took the afflicted tooth out.
Good luck and thanks for the response. We know you're a busy man right now!

Comment viewing options

Select your preferred way to display the comments and click "Save settings" to activate your changes.

Post new comment

The content of this field is kept private and will not be shown publicly.
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.
  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.

More information about formatting options

This question is used to make sure you are a human visitor and to prevent spam submissions.


TN Progressive

TN Politics

Knox TN Today

Local TV News

News Sentinel

State News

Local .GOV

State .GOV

Wire Reports

Lost Medicaid Funding

To date, the failure to expand Medicaid/TennCare has cost the State of Tennessee ? in lost federal funding. (Source)

Monthly archive