As the new coronavirus continues to spread in Tennessee, a news reporter who has been asking hard questions about reopening plans was barred from a Knoxville health briefing. The Knoxville News Sentinel reports that science journalist Vincent Gabrielle had been seeking the data the county was using to decide when to lift restrictions—and getting rebuffed. When he tried to dial into Friday’s media briefing, so he could ask questions, he was blocked and told to speak to county flack Mike Donila.
Donila told the newspaper that Gabrielle was blacklisted for “unprofessional behavior directed toward the Health Department and his inaccurate reporting,” and said the media briefings were a courtesy. News Sentinel Executive Editor Joel Christopher blasted the lack of transparency and retaliation. “What all of us don’t know right now are how literal life-and-death decisions are being made by the people we pay to act in our collective interests,” he said.