Prior to Mayor Megan Barry’s 7 p.m. press conference Wednesday, which can be viewed in full here, Phil Williams from News Channel 5 was granted an exclusive interview with Barry to break the story of Barry’s extramarital affair. In his own interview on Channel 5’s MorningLine with Nick Beres, Williams explained how and why he was granted the exclusive interview:
Williams: I put in the request I believe Friday and I was very straightforward with the Mayor’s spokesperson. You know I knew that they would know why I was asking because my source or sources you know, were incredible.
Beres: Had indicated to you that there may have been something going on between the Mayor and her head of security.
Williams: Exactly and to the point that I had no doubt. And so I really encouraged the Mayor’s office she needs to sit down answer the questions, go ahead and get all this information out as soon as possible. You know just come clean.
Beres went on to state that Williams was “probably the first one to put it to her and she probably also knew Phil Williams will be fair.”
Regarding the conduct of his interview, Williams noted that “the only ground rules were that they wanted her to make a statement at the beginning of the interview, let her say what was on her heart and then I could ask whatever I wanted to ask.”
In effect, the mayor was allowed to set the tone of the interview and set the idea in the minds of viewers that her choice to have and subsequently conceal for two years an affair with a subordinate Metro employee while both were being paid by the Metro government, was a personal choice and not a violation of any law or ethics rules; it was simply, a mistake.
Williams’ investigation is focused on whether taxpayer dollars were spent in an inappropriate way and during his interview with the Mayor, asked whether Sgt. Forrest was getting paid “when you were having your personal time?”
While the mayor simply answers “no,” Williams admitted in his MorningLine interview that “there’s no way for us to really know.”
Earlier in the day, in fact, hours before the News Channel 5 broke the story, The Tennessee Star, having also received word about the Mayor’s extramarital affair, contacted Barry’s Director of Communications Sean Braisted to confirm whether Mayor Barry would be holding a press conference, and if so, at what time?
Receiving no response, The Star contacted Braisted an hour later asking again for confirmation and details about whether a press conference would be held along with a request for comment on the resignation of Sgt. Forrest.
No response has been received from Mayor Barry’s Director of Communications.
Barry concealed her affair with a subordinate Metro employee for two years, an affair she later admitted began shortly after she was elected.