Phil Williams’ School Choice ‘Nothing Burger’ Report Deceptively Withheld Key Comment from Mark Gill

Michael Patrick Leahy, editor-in-chief and CEO of The Tennessee Star, slammed News Channel 5’s Phil Williams for his omission of a key comment submitted by Mark Gill in response to the outlet’s attack piece featuring an undercover video recording taken during a strategy session for school vouchers in 2016.

On Monday, News Channel 5 ran a segment dedicated to the secret recording, which showed Gill, a pro-school choice advocate, boasting his resources to intimidate state lawmakers.

On Tuesday’s edition of The Michael Patrick Leahy Show, Leahy called Williams’ hit piece a “nothing burger,” noting how Gill’s comments are typical in regards to the way the “American political process has worked since the founding of the Republic.”

Leahy also pointed out how the segment aired on Monday was “misleading,” explaining how the presentation would make the audience believe that the secret recording from 2016 is directly relevant to the school choice bill currently being debated in the Tennessee General Assembly.

“Look at what he did there. He took a private, secretly recorded, 2016 strategy session of pro-school choice advocates and now, eight years later, he cuts to Governor Bill Lee’s announcement of his universal school choice program of 2024. He gives you the impression, ‘Oh, this happened just recently,’ even though he did say it’s 2016. That is entirely misleading,” Leahy said.

“By the way, he doesn’t give the provenance of where that took place, who recorded it, what the purpose was, or did he tell you how he obtained it? No, he did not. Did he tell you why somebody secretly recorded that eight years ago and now brings it to his attention? Did he tell you that the person who you’re about to hear, a good friend of mine, Mark Gill, has not been involved in the school choice movement for eight years? He’s been out of any participation in the process for eight years. Did he tell you that? No. Why? Because Phil Williams is a deceptive propagandist for the left,” Leahy added.

Leahy went on to point out how Williams gave Gill a chance to respond to the hit piece, however, did not include Gill’s full response during Monday’s segment.

Gills’ full response submitted to News Channel 5, obtained by The Star, reads as follows:

Dear Phil,

My experience with productive “strategy sessions” is that they are loud and unfiltered and where passionate people can put forth their best and worst ideas without reservation.

Though I have not been involved in the school choice movement for the last eight years, I can speculate with confidence that your recorded “strategy session” was attended by passionate people dedicating their time, talents and resources to allow Tennessee’s parents access to the best schools for their children.

Monday’s segment did not include the second paragraph of Gills’ comments.

Leahy added that Williams intentionally failed to report the all important last sentence of Gill’s statement, which made clear that his political objective was “to allow Tennessee’s parents access to the best schools for their children.”

“Phil Williams, you are a dishonest reporter because you missed the key point of what your target that you’re trying to embarrass, or whatever, with your nothing burger. You’re a bad guy, Phil Williams. That’s the bottom line. I don’t care how many awards the leftist guys give you,” Leahy said.

Read Gill’s full statement:

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Kaitlin Housler is a reporter at The Tennessee Star and The Star News Network. Follow Kaitlin on X / Twitter.
Image “Phil Williams Reports” by News Channel 5 WSMV.




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One Thought to “Phil Williams’ School Choice ‘Nothing Burger’ Report Deceptively Withheld Key Comment from Mark Gill”

  1. Truthy McTruthFace

    phil has been a sham-artist and a leftist clown for years