NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — NewsChannel 5’s investigation of former Tennessee House Speaker Glen Casada -- and the political fallout that led to his resignation -- has received a nomination for a prestigious George Foster Peabody Award, it was announced Wednesday.
That investigation, “NewsChannel 5 Investigates: Capitol Hill Controversy," was led by chief investigative reporter Phil Williams and investigative photojournalist Bryan Staples. Reporter Chris Conte led the station’s coverage of the political fallout from the scandal. Numerous other staff members contributed to the effort.
Judges called the project “a dogged, revelatory and continuing investigation of highly toxic culture at the Tennessee state house.”
“Peabody is proud to champion this year’s nominees who inspire our connection, provoke our thinking and delight our senses. From the communal strength of black women to the eminence of science to the conviction of those who speak up, these stories and their creators celebrate the diversity of human experience and of our democracy,” said Jeffrey P. Jones, executive director of Peabody.
“Amidst the challenges of our present moment, we can find empathy, entertainment and truth in these nominees.”
The Peabody Awards are considered the most prestigious award in electronic media.
Peabody’s Board of Jurors “selected 60 nominees that represent the most compelling and empowering stories released in broadcasting and digital media during 2019,” the announcement said.
Nominees “were chosen by unanimous vote of 19 jurors from nearly 1,300 entries from television, radio/podcasts and the web in entertainment, news, documentary, children’s and public service programming.”
From the list, 30 winners will be named at a later date.
Beginning in May 2019, NewsChannel 5’s investigation revealed a highly toxic culture, including racist and misogynistic text messages, inside the offices of the third most powerful person in Tennessee state government.
Our NewsChannel 5 Investigates team also uncovered allegations that House Speaker Glen Casada offered one lawmaker a bribe to pass a critical piece of legislation and threatened others.
On top of the investigative stories, Williams and Conte followed an ever- unfolding series of developments on Tennessee’s Capitol Hill as lawmakers began demanding the Speaker’s resignation.
The House Republican Caucus, in a move that no one could have foreseen, gathered for an unprecedented vote of no confidence.
When Casada appeared to hold out hope that he could survive, Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee and the Speaker’s leadership team turned against him.
Casada subsequently announced his resignation as Speaker.
As the Associated Press described it, “The move is unprecedented in Tennessee’s modern political era. The last speaker resignation came in 1931 in the Senate.”
NewsChannel 5's "Toxic School Water" investigation was nominated for a Peabody last year. Phil Williams has three previous Peabody Awards, Bryan Staples has two.
View NewsChannel 5's full investigation: