Phil Williams Justin Jones

NewsChannel 5’s Phil Williams Responds with Deceptive Distractions When Confronted Over His Journalistic Failures to Get Justin Jones on the Record Over 2020 Claim

Apr 25, 2024

Earlier this week NewsChannel 5’s chief investigative reporter Phil Williams once again dodged an opportunity to finally get State Representative Justin Jones (D-Nashville) on the record to respond to an allegation that he covered up reports of the 2020 sexual assault of two protesters by a homeless man at a 62 day protest Jones led at Legislative Plaza in Nashville.

Instead of posing questions to Jones about the 2020 allegation, Williams asked the Democrat about the tensions among lawmakers in the Tennessee House – nodding along as Jones claimed the Tennessee General Assembly is “racist.”

On Saturday, The Tennessee Star published an article written by lead reporter Tom Pappert that captured the surprising admissions Williams made in his Friday interview with Dan Mandis, host of Nashville’s Morning News with Dan Mandis on SuperTalk 99.7 WTN. In that interview,  Williams said that he once asked Jones to respond to claims made by his former close colleague Jeneisha Harris on June 18, 2020, that he covered up the sexual assault of two protesters by a homeless man.

The protest at the time sought the removal of the Nathan Bedford Forrest bust at the Tennessee State Capitol.

When Mandis asked Williams if “anyone asked Justin Jones” about these allegations, Williams stated, ” I did ask him, and because this deals with a someone with whom he was involved in a relationship, he chose not to comment.”

A search of all NewsChannel 5 articles and video broadcasts since June 2020 shows no evidence that Williams has previously reported asking Jones about the allegation or Jones’ refusal to comment.

Williams also admitted to Mandis that he spoke with individuals who were aware of the allegations:

Of the alleged sexual assaults, Williams told Mandis, “One person told me that they really, this is a group that doesn’t believe in involving the police if possible, so they wanted to do something, and it’s a term related to restorative justice. It’s a different term that was given to me.”

Williams then admitted to Mandis that the activists apparently confirmed the incidents took place but did not want the police involved.

“But basically, they wanted to sit down as a first step, with the perpetrator, and tell him about the harm that he had caused and kind of reach a resolution,” Williams confirmed.

A search of all NewsChannel 5 articles and video broadcasts since June 2020 shows no evidence that Williams has previously reported on what he learned from these interviews with people who were aware of the allegations.

Pappert has since faced personal attacks from Williams – including the false assertions from Williams that Pappert “is a former Alex Jones-Infowars employee who sided with Alex instead of the Sandy Hook families” – since reporting on the investigative journalist’s radio interview.

On Monday, Pappert debunked Williams’ false claim that he “is a former Alex Jones-Infowars employee.”

On Wednesday’s edition of The Michael Patrick Leahy Show, Pappert debunked Williams’ false claim that he “sided with Alex [Jones] instead of the Sandy Hook families,” Pappert said the move by Williams was a “desperate effort” to “put words” into his mouth.

“[Williams] has been at it for days now. He’s still not over it – using screenshots of deleted articles and deleted videos from five years ago in a desperate effort to basically put words into my mouth,” Pappert said.

“I had to go way back into my memory here to try to understand what Phil Williams is using this to say. What he said is false,” Pappert stated.

“From my memory, there was an NBC interview with Alex Jones in 2017, and in this interview, he claimed it was deceptively edited, and remarks about Sandy Hook were made. This then preceded the lawsuits against Alex Jones that led to the 2022 massive judgment that now InfoWars and I think Alex Jones are both in bankruptcy,” he continued.

“So what I had probably said five years ago, Phil Williams, is something to the effect of, ‘I hadn’t heard you talk about this in years, Alex Jones. It seems to be the rest of the media that’s interested in hearing about Sandy Hook, not you.’ But again, this was deleted five years ago and I would add that this new screenshot that Phil Williams is using to indict my reputation – it admits right in there that I was not an InfoWars, Alex Jones employee. I was writing at another publication at the time,” Pappert said.

“We’re going to demand that Williams’ retract the two false claims he made about [Pappert]. My prediction is he’s going to try another deceptive distraction because he is a journalistic failure,” Leahy said.

Watch the full segment:

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Kaitlin Housler is a reporter at The Tennessee Star and The Star News Network. Follow Kaitlin on X / Twitter.
Photo “Phil Williams” by Phil Williams. Photo “Justin Jones” by Justin Jones. 

 

 

 

 

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