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SouthComm, Don't Sell City Paper to Armstrong Williams!

This petition had 164 supporters

We, the readers of the Washington City Paper and members of the Washington D.C. area community, strongly request that SouthComm, Inc. not to sell our community’s newspaper to Armstrong Williams.

Mr. Williams has been wrapped up in sex scandals over the years; he has taken payments for writing articles to promote Bush administration policies while serving as a consultant to that administration, and has a clear intent to steer the paper into the far-right agenda. We do not feel that he is a fit steward for the City Paper. We hope the buyer will be someone who will not tear down all of the critical work the employees of the paper have done over the years to create a free and independent source of news for the community. The potential purchase by Mr. Williams is alarming, and we ask that SouthComm consider the issues brought forth in this petition.

Mr. Williams is not the right buyer for the Washington City Paper.

It is essential for Washingtonians to have a fair and unbiased representation of the important stories throughout our city and our region. As reported in the Washington Post, Mr. Williams was "once called out for taking consultancy payments from the George W. Bush Department of Education while writing editorials promoting its policies." We cannot trust that news and information will be independent and unbiased when the paper is owned by an advisor to the Trump administration. Mr. Williams is an advisor to Ben Carson. His involvement could compromise one of Washington’s critical local news sources.

In order to maintain Washington City Paper’s focus on hard hitting political journalism, as well as its coverage of local arts, food, culture, the future owner must be one who is interested in these things and will allow the sort of coverage that has been the hallmark of the paper for years.

Mr. Williams has stated that he would not change the newspaper, however in the same Washington Post article he said that it’s about “collecting something that was once great and trying to make it great again.” He has said that he would like to include more celebrity profiles as well as more coverage of far-right conservative personalities, such as an article on Stephen Bannon's charity interests. The Washington City Paper is already great and Mr. Williams's suggestions for more fluff will not “make it great again.”

We also have concerns with Mr. Williams with regard to sexual harassment. He was on the wrong side of history when he defended Justice Clarence Thomas against Anita Hill's sexual harassment allegations. He was quoted in the Wall Street Journal saying that, "Sister has emotional problems" – classic gaslighting, and a horrendous thing to say. Mr. Williams had two sexual harassment allegations made against him. One by an employee noticing that he grabbed the plaintiff's bodies, a woman's buttocks or a man's genitals almost weekly. This case was settled out of court. A second case was filed against Williams for grabbing and commenting on a man's genitals in a clothing store. In a time when the world is purging the jobs of people who have used their authority to sexually harass or assault others, SouthComm would surely be on the wrong side of history by selling to Mr. Williams.

We ask that SouthComm seek a new owner for the City Paper who has not been wrapped up in sex scandals; someone who has not taken payments for articles promoting the policies of affiliated administrations; and who believes that the free and independent perspective of the Washington City Paper is great resource to the community and will not tear it down. These issues are of the greatest concern to Washingtonians and we hope that SouthComm will duly consider our concerns.

Armstrong Williams is not the right buyer for the Washington City Paper.

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