N ewsChannel 5 investigative reporter Phil Williams has been churning out several stories lately to call attention to various aspects and practices of the Nashville Predators front office.
Most – if not all – of the investigative reports have been over topics that seem fairly mundane or downright uninteresting to hockey fans and to the casual viewer. Concession contracts? Yawn.
On Wednesday, Williams ran a piece in which he exposed that the Predators used a lobbyist to pass legislation in Tennessee’s State Legislature. For those wondering why this is news…keep wondering. Virtually every law in the United States, from a state level to a federal level, is passed via lobbyists. There are apparently no questions about the ethics of the lobbyist and lobbying is a protected First Amendment right.
But I digress.
For the most part, Williams’ investigations have become a large amount of “he said-he said” with Predators President and COO Sean Henry. Wednesday’s piece which unveiled that the Predators used the most common method to work through the state legislature was a bit of evidence that Williams was grasping at straws.
I should note at this point that I had previously decided not to write a piece on this situation. I am not a media critic and I have no background in contract law. In my opinion, Williams was cherry-picking facts and twisting them while ignoring others to further his story.
Williams essentially proved my theory on Friday.
On Friday, Williams saw fit to blast Inside Smashville’s story and belittle the writer’s credibility. Williams attempts to dismiss the piece as the rantings of a fan who managed to get an interview with Sean Henry. Amanda DiPaolo is credentialed by the Nashville Predators and the National Hockey League and has covered several Predators games and NHL events as a member of the credentialed media. She is by no means simply just “a fan”.
WTVF’s Predators series began with a piece in which Williams claimed that food service vendor Aramark was never given a fair shake in concession negotiations. According to Williams, the Predators have not been in contact with Aramark outside of Predators CEO Jeff Cogen receiving a congratulatory phone call from an Aramark executive.
Either Williams ignores or simply never bothered to investigate parts of that claim. Aramark already has an ancillary contract with the team. They provide coffee and other services in the Nashville Predators front office, as I have verified with a team official.
One can naturally make the logical leap that if you have a prior, existing relationship with someone in which money is changing hands, someone somewhere in the organization is contacting someone else at the other organization. Does it debunk Williams’ claims? No, but it does provide further evidence that he is cherry-picking facts and not telling the whole story.
The key to remember is that November is a sweeps month. Each year, during four different periods (February, May, July and November), Nielsen Media Research sends diaries to various homes through out the country to gauge what they are watching on television. This year, November sweeps ran from October 27th through November 23rd, which was Wednesday. Williams did not run a story on the Predators from September 15th until November 21st.
It doesn’t take a Constitutional Law professor to put that together.