Explosions: Whatever You Do, Don't Ask Montel Williams About Big Pharma

Montel Williams is a paid spokesperson for the pharmaceutical industry, but if you’re a high school intern for Savannah Morning News, you probably shouldn’t ask him any tough questions.

Courtney Scott, a teenager working as an intern for the paper, asked Montel if he thought pharmaceutical companies would be discouraged from research if their profits were restricted. Montel, who suffers from MS, was personally offended by the question.

From Pharmalot:

“I’m trying to figure out exactly why you are here and what the interview is about,” he replied to Courtney Scott, the intern. Williams then asked if she suffered from any illness, to which she answered no. “I’m here as a patient advocate talking about the fact that medications available today are saving people’s lives, that’s what’s saving mine and after that, this interview is done,” Montel reportedly said before storming out, adding that he suffers from multiple sclerosis. He snapped his fingers, said thanks and walked away, according to the newspaper.”

That would have been weird, but no big deal, if Courtney hadn’t happened to run into Montel later on that day while at the Westin “for an unrelated assignment featuring gingerbread houses at the hotel.”

Montel thought the high school student was stalking him and freaked the hell out:

As we were preparing to film, Montel walked up with his bodyguard and got in Courtney Scott’s face pointing his finger telling her, ‘Don’t look at me like that. Do you know who I am? I’m a big star, and I can look you up, find where you live and blow you up,’ ” Cosey said. “At this time he was pointing randomly at all of us.”

Moore and Scott corroborated the statement.

“He was really mad. He was angry at me,” Scott said. She is a 17-year-old senior at Jenkins High School working for the Morning News in an apprenticeship program through Savannah-Chatham public schools.

“I wasn’t expecting him to come at me and go off, I was expecting him to say, ‘No hard feelings from before.’ I’m not sure if he meant ‘blow me up’ and ruin my career or really blow us up, but it was threatening.”

We cannot imagine how random and terrifying it would be to have Montel Williams threaten to personally explode you. He’s since apologized and has invited Scott onto his show in order to publicly say he’s sorry.

Don’t go, Courtney! It’s a trap!

Should PhRMA Blow Up Montel Williams?
[Pharmalot via WSJ Health Blog]
Montel ‘blows up’ at local reporters [Savannah Now]


Edit Your Comment

  1. Buran says:

    Wow, big business really does think it’s above the law if it can abuse the press like that and think there’s no consequence.

  2. faust1200 says:

    Montel is a hack. How can he be taken seriously when he has Sylvia Browne the “psychic” on every other show. Audience member: “Do you see any angels around me?” Sylvia: “Yes I do.” Audience member: “Thank you!!” Genius.

  3. DrGirlfriend says:

    She definitely should not go. What if they end up doing paternity tests?

    Oh wait, that’s Maury.

  4. MickeyMoo says:

    What a tool. I’m not familiar with the effects of MS and whether they cause emotional instability, paranoia, etc – but the “I’m a big star”=tool

  5. Shadowfire says:

    Next time on Montel, we send some troubled high school stalkers to teen boot camp!

  6. Omi says:

            I’m here for my apology.

            Yes I must apologize, I’m sorry to inform you that it was actually all a trap!
            And now that your here my henchmen can blow you up!

            Do you expect me to be scared of you or something?

            No Ms. Scott, I expect you to go BOOM!

  7. Pylon83 says:

    Your comment is illogical. Montel Williams is a paid spokesperson for a company, his job is to say how awesome the company is, not to actually represent it like a PR person would. Further, I’m not sure how his actions can be construed as “the corporation thinking it is above the law”. That’s quite a reach. It would seem that you’re simply trying to figure out a way to make the pharmaceutical company the bad guy here when it’s clear it was just some crazy “Star” who was having a bad day/life. But don’t let crazy things like logic, reason, and common sense get in the way of bashing the big bad corporation. Carry on.

  8. Jean Naimard says:

    You do that little stunt up here, I just take my trusty cellphone, dial 9-1-1 and the cops scoop you up for (at least) the night, until you are brought in front of a judge, answering charges of threatening one’s life.

    This is one of the little advantages of living in a country where “freedom of speech” isn’t guaranteed to be protected by the Constitution.

    We don’t need a first amendment: we’re the redcoats…

  9. misslisa says:

    I know at age 17 I wouldn’t have thought to call the police, but that’s what should have happened. Threatening lives and acting aggressively toward a minor – I wonder if it’s not too late to press charges now?

  10. Pylon83 says:

    @Jean Naimard:
    Seriously, no reasonably person would construe what he said as truly a threat to her life. It wasn’t an immediate or impending threat to her life. He even qualified it by saying “I can look up where you live and blow you up” at some time in the future. Furthermore, the threat is unreasonable and clearly wasn’t serious.

  11. azntg says:

    Agreed, stay away from him. Big money tend to obscure everything anyway.

  12. mrestko says:

    I agree with what PYLON83 said, it clearly wasn’t a serious threat. Since Williams does have multiple sclerosis, he was likely experiencing “emotional incontinence.” Sometimes people with MS experience extreme emotions when they normally wouldn’t be warranted.
    If Williams felt threatened by the student’s question, it may have provoked a response that was simply blow out of proportion by his disease. I am not trying to make excuses for the man, but I do think MS could be a reasonable explanation.

  13. agb says:

    @MEG MARCO: lol @ your commentary.

    @Buran: this isn’t exactly big business abusing the press. more like a celebrity not exercising as much restraint as he should towards a snooty 17-year-old.

  14. agb says:

    Also, death threats are not protected speech under the first amendment. there are restrictions…

  15. spinachdip says:

    @Jean Naimard: IANAconstitutionalL, but outlawing threats and intimidation does not infringe on the First Amendment, since the SCOTUS ruled in Virginia v. Black that a threat or intimidation is an action that’s separate from the expression and not covered by the Constitution, just like yelling “Fire!” in a crowded theater.

  16. JustRunTheDamnBallBillick. says:

    IT also sounds like she got him to do the first interview under false pretenses, so Im not sure I believe her much.

  17. Alvis says:

    Montel’s a big medical cannabis proponent. You think he’d be more mellow. Maybe he overdid things and got hit with the paranoia.

  18. Chongo says:

    If it was Arsenio Hall pointing his big finger at her, she really would of blown up!

  19. spinachdip says:

    @JustRunTheDamnBallBillick.: What false pretenses?

    He was at a press event promoting the pharms. A question about the pharm industry, which Montel has lent his credibility to, is not only appropriate, but also pretty much required from any self respecting reporter.

  20. BigNutty says:

    What a great experience this student received. Now she knows what it’s like in the real world of reporting and now realizes anything can happen.

    She did great by getting a celebrity to act crazy by her question. She should intern at TMZ.

  21. Pylon83 says:

    The threat must be imminent for it to be classified as “unprotected” speech. If I tell you “I’m going to kick your a$$ sometime next year”, it’s protected under the First Amendment.

  22. Buran says:

    @Pylon83: If you’re a spokesman for a company, you represent them and speak for them. By attacking the press and a representative of the press in this way, you, by extension, cause the company to do so.

    The “above the law” part comes from the fact that you can’t go around making violent threats to people. These days, that’s an act of terrorism and is against the law.

  23. ninjatales says:

    911 Responder: Hi this is 911. My name is [your fav name] and how can I help you?

    Courtney: There’s a man yelling and pointing fingers at me and my friends. He’s threatening to look up my information and blow me up.

    911 Responder: Could you describe him to me please? And where are you?

    Courtney: Tall angry black person …



  24. spinachdip says:

    @Pylon83: Actually, the majority opinion in the case I cited is that “a State may choose to prohibit only those forms of intimidation that are most likely to inspire fear of bodily harm.” If you express intent to beat the fuck out of me, that’s not protected speech, whether you schedule the beatdown right now, next week, or two years from now.

    In the case of Montel’s hissy fit, I don’t disagree with you. I think a reasonable person would have concluded that he was simply off his meds (ha!) and he had no intention of actually harming anyone.

    Now, it would be a different story if Montel had a history of going Kosovo on his enemies. That would inspire fear of bodily harm, and states are free to persecute him under whatever intimidation law they have on the books.

    But again, IANACL.

  25. spinachdip says:

    @spinachdip: er, prosecute, not persecute.

  26. Buran says:

    @agb: How is asking a perfectly valid question “snooty”? If anyone was snooty, he was, considering his negative attitude toward a member of the press asking a question of great public interest.

  27. coffee177 says:

    Anybody that is asked a question should show restraint in their answer. Especially when it comes to a highschool student. The student did nothing wrong and I dont see anything wrong with the question. He could have just answered it and moved on. No big deal and no one would know any better about it.

    “I can find out where you live and blow you up” Means exactly that.

    Very interesting.

  28. sled_dog says:

    Hotel? I thought he lived in that bus. You know, the PPA bus that shows up and they start unloading unmarked cardboard boxes.

    What’s in those boxes, anyway?

  29. hills says:

    Thanks to Montel, this high school student’s journalism career is going to “blow up” – Good for her! Sounds like she composed herself well and is on the right track….

    …As for Montel, obviously he was out of line, but I am going to cut him a little slack because having a chronic illness is stressful – not an excuse, but a little compassion….

  30. bohemian says:

    I’m sure the combination of the stress of having a chronic illness and whoring yourself out as the spokesperson for a corrupt industry could put someone over the edge.

    But seriously, threatened by a question by a 17 year old? She learned a valuable lesson. Adult does not equate rational or mature behavior.

  31. phloighd says:

    Here’s hoping he gets arrested. Does threatening a high schooler make you feel big, sir?

  32. WalkTheLine says:

    Is the this same Montel Williams who allows the con-woman known as Sylvia Browne on his show every week?

    The same Montel Williams who lets Sylvia Browne prey on the vulnerable and grieving (see Shawn Hornbeck case) in exchange for higher ratings?

    The same Montel Williams who refuses to do anything about Sylvia Browne when she has been blatantly wrong many times (stopsylviabrowne.com)?

  33. SaveMeJeebus says:

    Isn’t Montel the guy that gives VCRs and leather jackets filled with money to wifebeaters on the condition that they stop abusing? It’s been a while since I watched the guy. MOUNTAIN MOVE OUTTA MY WAY!

  34. camille_javal says:

    @Alvis: ha – that’s what I was thinking the whole time I was reading it. I know he smokes to help with his symptoms; perhaps he was at the gingerbread event to take the edge off the munchies?

    (I know, weak joke.)

  35. whirlybird says:

    @Buran: Uh, Big Business *is* above the law. They don’t need to think it.

  36. davere says:

    Big star? heh.

  37. Indecision says:

    I can’t believe the egos on some of these people. “Do you know who I am? I’m a big star…”

    No, Montel, you’re not. Johnny Depp is a big star. Harrison Ford is a big star. You, on the other hand, have a cookie-cutter daytime talk show that’s watched mostly by middle-age housewives, the unemployed, and the bored. Get over yourself.

  38. theblackdog says:

    @drgirlfriend: You are NOT the father of Courtney’s Baby!

    *Cue DrGirlfriend cheering, Courtney runs off crying*

  39. Flynn says:

    Somehow, this is going to wind up with Montel Williams getting tazered.

  40. y2julio says:

    what a fucking asshole.

  41. floydianslip6 says:

    @davere: heh indeed.

  42. savvy999 says:

    A good fried of mine used to work in the same building as Montel in Manhattan several years ago; says that he and his bodyguard posse would regularly kick everyone out of an elevator/not let others on if it stopped on your floor.

    Typical nice, un-entitled fellow.

  43. Sometimes people with MS experience extreme emotions when they normally wouldn’t be warranted. If Williams felt threatened by the student’s question, it may have provoked a response that was simply blow out of proportion by his disease.

    @mrestko: Interesting. I do wonder, though, what about the question felt threatening. I also wonder why, if everyone around him knows he has MS, the bodyguard did nothing when he went off. I know it’s not the bodyguard’s job to do that but he could have pulled Montel to the side and said, “Dude, calm down.”

  44. Hinomura says:

    I woulda dropped trow and peed on his expensive loafers

  45. GreatMoose says:


    And THAT would restore my faith in humanity. Maybe they could tazer Maury, just ’cause.

  46. Andrew says:

    I was half expecting to see some sort of “you ARE the father” joke. But no. Just random threats.

  47. nursetim says:

    Making this story public is far worse for Montel than calling the police. I would have to agree that it would be a stretch to say that he posed a credible threat to anyone. From now on, anytime you Google his name, this story will pop up. I personally don’t think the pharmaceutical industry is entirely evil (my dad worked for a pharmaceutical co that was eventually bought by Pfizer), I thought that was a well thought out question that needs to be discussed in a rational way. If I were her, I would not go on his show.

  48. Project Thanatos says:

    Did he really pull an “Oh Snap” right before storming out?

  49. DrGirlfriend says:

    @theblackdog: When she stops crying, Courtney will suddenly remember that she was mistaken that she’d only slept with one guy. She meant to say 8.

  50. theblackdog says:

    @DrGirlfriend: And then she’ll make 7 more show appearances and they will all not be the father. Then she’ll remember another 5 guys she might have slept with.

  51. patela says:

    Ok, I’m kinda confused here. If Montel really is a shill for big pharma, he either doesn’t know it, is doing a crap job, or big pharma companies are stupider than I thought about their message.

    As almost anyone (including the author of this post, I am sure) knows, big pharma’s answer to Courtney’s question is “yes,” plain and simple. They’ve never shied from that argument, so why would they now? That’s a softball for pharma companies, not a “tough question”. It’s a tough question for patient advocates who are concerned that the argument might be true.

    If Montel were really on message for them, he would have said, “absolutely” and then launched into a speil about why drugs are expensive and that’s why pharmaceutical companies are so good when they decide to give some away.

    The fact that Montel went nuts has nothing to do with pharma companies and everything to do with Montel being nuts.

  52. brianary says:

    Those MS drugs can make you pretty moody.

    (I can say that because I’m on them, too.)

  53. IrisMR says:

    I’m not surprised. It’s Montel. He’s one of the biggest assholes out there. You know, the type that hides behind a facade of being considerate human beings on TV?

    I have yet to hear him say he’s sorry for making Sylvia Browne what she is. Nah, he prefers bringing her back here and then so they can both continue fooling idiotic gullible people.

    Montel makes me sick.

  54. hhole says:

    I think somebody over at the Partnership for Prescription Assistance needs to fine Montel some happy pills next time he goes out for a PR visit.

    Truthfully though…we all know how vicious 17 year old intern writers are. Animals.

  55. Nemesis_Enforcer says:

    @agb: Ok asking a very good question that a real professional reporter should be asking is not snooty.

    What a douche.

  56. thalia says:

    Jenkins High School? The one in Washington? Dude…my old school!

  57. guevera says:

    Montel’s a great deal for big pharma — his little roadshow helps distract the same idiots that watch his show from how badly they’re getting cornholed on drug prices.

    Funny thing – Montel’s rating’s spike every time Sylvia Brown’s on. Like double his usual rating. That speaks poorly of the viewing public.

  58. peggynature says:

    He wants to blow her up on TV!

  59. UniComp says:

    Wow, if this really happened, I just lost a little respect for Montel.