Media asks Tennessee high court to boost press protection

Oct 3, 2018

Phil Williams, WTVF-TV
Credit wtvf
Nashville DA Glen Funk


NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — A group of Tennessee publishers and broadcasters is asking the state Supreme Court to overturn precedent and strengthen protections for the press.

The request comes in a defamation case against Nashville television reporter Phil Williams. At issue is whether accurately reporting on a court case protects Williams from prosecution.

Davidson County District Attorney Glenn Funk claims Williams' defamed him by reporting that Funk was accused in a lawsuit of soliciting bribes.

Williams' attorneys argue he's protected by Tennessee's fair report privilege.

In filings with the Tennessee Supreme Court, Funk says the privilege does not apply if Williams' motives were malicious.

The Associated Press and other media have filed a brief arguing Funk's interpretation is inconsistent with the First Amendment.

The Tennessee Supreme Court hears arguments Thursday.