John Walcott, Class of 1971

Sometimes old-fashioned ways are what are called for. In positions at Newsweek, U.S. News, and The Wall Street Journal, you wore out plenty of shoe leather cultivating sources here and abroad, learning how institutions and governments work, and gaining a grasp of the big picture. When U.S. leaders geared up to invade Iraq based on claims that Saddam Hussein was cozy with Al Queda and developing weapons of mass destruction, news media all went along. All, that is, except for the team that you led at Knight-Ridder. Your every instinct told you those stories were not true. Your sources then agreed, and so did the many documents that you unearthed. You published exposes, over and over. You took a lot of heat for them. Were called names. Told you were unpatriotic. And we did launch that war—one that will have devastating effects on individuals, families, and nations for more than a generation. History has since proved you were right. You even have the bittersweet experience of seeing yourself, in the person of Rob Reiner, glorified in the movie Shock and Awe, showing, for a wide audience, that sometimes old-school is best and that raising the right questions and standing up for the truth, at whatever the cost, represent an especially valuable form of patriotism.

In recognition of your distinguished achievement in journalism, Williams
College is proud to honor you with its Bicentennial Medal.

September 15, 2018