Lily Evans Potter Profile picture
Apr 18, 2018 63 tweets 33 min read Twitter logo Read on Twitter
Since the #Parkland shooting, news coverage of gun issues has dominated the headlines. Readers of the @HeraldTribune in #Sarasota #Florida might think they’re getting objective, unbiased reporting about gun issues.

Unfortunately, that couldn’t be farther from the truth.
2) Lee Williams wears two hats at the Herald-Tribune. He’s not just a senior-level editor; he also serves as “Gun Writer.” Williams writes columns and articles on guns, producing @HeraldTribune-approved content for social media, a blog and a podcast.
3) The @HeraldTribune endorses and promotes these productions, noting that gun coverage is Williams’ assigned job. Here are his social media accounts:
Twitter: @HT_GunWriter
Facebook: The Gun Writer
Here are his blog and podcast:
Podcast: ⬇️
4) From his blog: “Williams can’t remember a time in his life when he wasn’t shooting. Before becoming a journalist, Lee served in the Army and worked as a police officer. He is an NRA-certified law enforcement firearms instructor, an avid tactical shooter and a training junkie.”
5) On Wednesday, March 28, Williams interviewed Florida NRA lobbyist Marion Hammer during his 30-minute podcast, “Think, Aim, Fire.”…
6) Hammer is a past president of the NRA, current NRA board member and executive director of the Unified Sportsmen of Florida. Here is Williams’s summary of the episode:

“Marion talks about the passage of the recent sweeping gun control bill in Florida ... and she names names.”
7) The @nrablog promoted Williams’ podcast interview with Hammer. It’s interesting and rather concerning that the NRA is so openly and closely aligned with a senior editor at the #Sarasota @HeraldTribune and vice-versa.

8) Sarasota Vision 2020 blog described the interview with Hammer. The blog said Williams called the Parkland response “macabre and evil.” Williams then asked Hammer, “How can we help?”

Did a @HeraldTribune editor really just offer to help the NRA?
9) @NRAblog generally promotes @HT_GunWriter podcasts on Twitter. It was 1:29 p.m. Feb. 14, just 52 minutes before the Parkland shooting, that a tweet recommended Williams’s “Think, Aim, Fire” podcast. That was the last tweet from @NRAblog until 2/21.

10) Dear @HeraldTribune,
Bad publicity is NOT better than no publicity. Your name is now associated with the Parkland tragedy by many Twitter users. The tweet below notes the horrible timing of the @NRAblog tweet recommending the @HT_GunWriter’s “Think, Aim, Fire” podcast.
11) Here are just a few of the numerous responses to that particular @NRAblog tweet of 2/14 promoting the “Think, Aim, Fire” podcast, many of which were directed specifically toward #Sarasota @HeraldTribune gun writer and editor Lee Williams.
12) This tweet is directed at the #Sarasota @HeraldTribune gun writer, whose “Think, Aim, Fire” podcast was promoted by @NRAblog less than an hour before the gun massacre at #StonemanDouglas High School in #Parkland.
13) Dear #Sarasota @HeraldTribune,

Why is your @HT_GunWriter campaigning for and endorsing an @NRA board candidate on Herald-Tribune Twitter & blog pages?

It’s just one example of Lee Williams using his position at the paper to push his OWN agenda.

This is unacceptable.
14) Other than editorials, newspapers should strive for objectivity and fairness in their coverage. It’s disturbing to see a #Sarasota @HeraldTribune writer/editor who uses his position at the paper to blatantly support a highly controversial group such as the @NRA.
15) Dear #Sarasota @HeraldTribune,

Here’s a tweet by your @HT_GunWriter. Do you really want to be associated with this—encouraging readers to stop supporting the NFL? The issue is NFL players protesting racism by taking a knee.

It may be time to recalibrate your moral compass.
16) I can’t think of a better way to disgrace one’s employer than to use disgusting, misogynistic language such as “pu**y” in a social media post while representing the company. This is a Facebook post by #Sarasota @HeraldTribune gun writer Lee Williams.
17) “What a bunch of dicks.”

That’s what Williams wrote about a decision by Dick’s Sporting Goods to stop selling assault-style rifles after the #Parkland shooting. It’s offensive, especially coming from an official representative of the @HeraldTribune.…
18) Here is another example of an offensive tweet by the #Sarasota @HeraldTribune’s gun writer. This was a potentially tragic situation, and joking about this man’s ethnicity or religion is STUNNINGLY inappropriate.
19) “... off his meds”

This comment by a #Sarasota Herald Tribune senior editor is in poor taste, and it is judgmental, unfair and unnecessary. It’s not a topic to joke about.

@HeraldTribune, do you really think it’s acceptable for your employee to make remarks such as this?
20) Not only is this tweet terribly inappropriate, a senior editor at the @HeraldTribune is retweeting an article from Breitbart.
21) It’s troubling to see so many inappropriate social media posts by a senior editor at the #Sarasota @HeraldTribune.

Why on EARTH would he use the hashtag “FakeNews” in reference to CNN when he’s retweeting Breitbart?

The irony here is overwhelming.
22) Here’s where it gets interesting. In his Feb. 20 blog, @HeraldTribune’s Lee Williams suggests placing armed volunteer veterans in schools as a way to prevent mass shootings, saying, “We need to harden our schools ASAP or there will be more carnage.”…
23) Also on Feb. 20, Sarasota County Sheriff Tom Knight announced a plan to put retired law enforcement and military veterans in schools to prevent gun massacres.

It’s rather similar to the plan proposed by Williams. Surely it’s a coincidence.…
24) Hired by the #Sarasota County School District, these marshals would get special training conducted by certified instructors and include firearm instruction; active shooter and assailant training; and situational awareness training.…
25) Who will train these retired veterans that are expected to neutralize school shooters? There’s someone who definitely qualifies for the job. Someone who, coincidentally, suggested a school protection plan that’s remarkably similar to the one proposed by the #Sarasota Sheriff.
26) Meet Lee Williams, gun writer and issues editor for the @HeraldTribune. Williams is a self-described “NRA-certified law enforcement firearms instructor, avid tactical shooter and training junkie.”
27) Let’s do a quick background check on Lee Williams. After high school graduation, Williams served on active duty in the U.S Army from 10/3/85 to 9/24/86. He also served in the U.S. Army Reserve (honorable discharge 11/17/90).
28) In 1987, Williams earned an associate’s degree in criminal justice from Normandale Community College. After graduation, he worked as a police officer in Charter Oak, IA for about a month.
29) In 1991, Williams was a police officer in Overland Park, Kansas. During routine patrol Mar. 10, 1991, he tried to pull over a car with a defective light. When the 16-year-old driver didn’t stop, he initiated high-speed pursuit in a residential area.…
30) The teen, Aaron Nelson, crashed into a tree, killing himself and a 15-year-old passenger. The legality of the pursuit was questioned, as the Overland Park Police Department had previously adopted a comprehensive policy on high-speed pursuits.
31) The questions surrounded “factors that must be considered before a pursuit is initiated, conditions that require termination of a pursuit, and the mechanics of how a pursuit should proceed.”…
32) Here’s an incident that also happened while Williams was an Overland Park officer. During a drug arrest Oct. 26, 1993, Williams botched a case when he executed an unlawful search and seizure, causing the evidence to be suppressed.…
33) On Nov. 26, 1993, Richard Lambert was shot in the chest and killed by Officer Lee Williams in front of his ex-wife’s Overland Park home. Lambert’s daughter Jennifer said her father was following orders to throw down his gun when Williams shot him.
34) Salina Journal, May 10, 2001 edition: Overland Park reached a settlement with Lambert’s daughter Jennifer, agreeing to pay her $25,000, stating the city “wanted to avoid the cost of further litigation.”…
35) Overland Park City Council went into closed session to discuss the matter.…
36) Williams served as chief of police in Truman, Minnesota from Aug. 1995-July 1997, when he was fired.…
37) Williams was arrested by the Minnesota Attorney General, St. Paul for “transfer weapon to ineligible person” in Martin County, MN. (offense code 624.7141, case number 082238)

He was convicted Nov. 30, 1998 and served probation.…
38) St. Cloud Times
St. Cloud, Minnesota
December 5, 1998

“Former Truman Police Chief pleads guilty to firearms charges”…
39) “Lee Williams, former Truman police chief, has pleaded guilty to several misdemeanor charges stemming from the illegal transfer of firearms. In exchange for the guilty pleas, a Martin County judge dismissed four other gross misdemeanor counts and three felony charges.”
40) “Under terms of an agreement, Williams will serve two years supervised probation and pay about $3,800 in reimbursement for grand jury costs. He also will serve 50 hours of community service.”
41) “In March, a grand jury charged Williams with three felony counts alleging he knowingly transferred firearms to a man previously convicted of third-degree attempted assault, a conviction that automatically disqualifies a person from owning a gun for 10 years.”
42) “Additional gross misdemeanor counts alleged Williams issued permits to three people who were not Truman residents. Police chiefs are allowed to issue gun permits only to residents of their town.”
43) After his law enforcement career ended, Williams became a reporter.
• Argus Leader, Sioux Falls, SD
• The Virgin Islands Daily News
• News Journal, Wilmington, DE
• Caesar Rodney Institute
• Illinois Policy Institute
• Bradenton Herald
• The Herald-Tribune
44) As a reporter, Williams has been called out publicly for shoddy reporting, and also faced repercussions on several occasions for inaccuracies. It’s surprising that the @HeraldTribune not only hired him as a reporter, but then promoted him to an upper-level editor position.
45) In July 2011, Illinois Policy Institute announced it would no longer produce investigative pieces after it had to retract an article written by Williams. His story wrongly accused a Democratic member of the Illinois House of being a convicted felon.…
46) Williams wrongly stated that state Rep. Robert Rita, D-Blue Island, had been convicted of a felony after a traffic stop in Nevada two decades earlier. Rita (shown below), then 22 years old, had actually pleaded guilty to a misde­meanor.
47) In his story, Williams erroneously quoted a State Board of Elec­tions lawyer as saying the state constitution ”in­dicates that a person with a felony con­viction should be ineligible from hold­ing public office, in the absence of a subsequent pardon.”
48) The Illinois Policy Institute announced that as a result of the errors and subsequent retraction, Williams, the institute’s Spring­field-based investigative reporter, would be leaving the publication.
49) Williams’ 2012 Herald-Tribune story about a State College of Florida student drew criticism from SCF Director of Public Affairs Katherine Walker, who said the story contained inflammatory words, inaccuracies, and omitted facts and details.…
50) Lee Williams is a “journalist” who has been called out publicly and who also faced repercussions on several occasions for shoddy reporting. It’s surprising that the @HeraldTribune not only hired him as a reporter, but then promoted him to an upper-level editor position.
51) It’s disgraceful that the @HeraldTribune lets Williams cover stories such as the #Parkland shooting and the #Sarasota school district debate over armed guards in schools. Williams’ direct ties to the NRA should have instantly disqualified him from writing about the subjects.
52) The #Sarasota @HeraldTribune is either not paying attention, or is willfully allowing Lee Williams to flagrantly abuse his position as an editor. By promoting his own gun rights agenda, Williams is depriving Herald-Tribune readers of fair and unbiased coverage.
53) The @HeraldTribune has an obligation to its readers to provide accurate reporting and writing. By allowing Lee Williams to continue to flagrantly promote and support the NRA, you’re unequivocally stating that fair and objective coverage is no longer your goal.
54) By allowing the unprofessional actions of Lee Williams to continue unaddressed, the @HeraldTribune is precariously close to joining the ranks of the not-so-elite group of untrustworthy, biased, morally corrupt media outlets such as Breitbart and FOX News.
55) The @HeraldTribune’s mission is “to be the most trusted and valued source of news and information in the market we serve.”

How can you expect your readers to trust anything written by Lee Williams, a man with a proven history of authoring inaccurate stories?
56) You hired a former law enforcement officer with a checkered past who was arrested, convicted and served probation for illegally transferring firearms.

And you allow him to freely write stories about guns, shootings, gun legislation, the police department, and the NRA?
57) Why should your readers trust you?

You have choices. You can look the other way and continue to publish the prejudiced, biased work of an inferior writer with ulterior motives. Or you can rededicate yourself to your mission of being a trusted source of news. It’s your call.
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More from @LilyPotter130

Apr 27, 2018
The story on @HeraldTribune’s controversial gun writer is getting some attention. The @NPR station in Tampa @wusf aired it this morning.

Conflicts Cloud How Audience Perceives Journalists
THREAD @HeraldTribune and @GateHouse_Media have Website Terms of Use. Senior Editor Lee Williams frequently violates his own company’s rules in his Herald-Tribune social media posts. See the highlighted areas below. @Indira_L @poynter @AlanMCohn
2) #Sarasota @HeraldTribune gun writer Lee Williams calls someone a “pu**y” in his Facebook post. (image below/left)

That word is abusive, obscene and misogynistic, in direct violation of several of his company’s terms of use. See highlighted areas on image below. (right)
Read 10 tweets

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