The story of WZTV (Fox 17) Nashville anchor Dan Phillips being fired for his sportscast full of Prince references seemed “too crazy to be true,” and while that’s the story Phillips gave on Facebook for his termination, there’s now growing evidence that other factors may have led to his dismissal. Deadspin’s Timothy Burke cites a source who said this was about a completely different incident:
Now, a source at the station tells us that’s not why he was fired at all—and that his conduct on Facebook Live is to blame.
A source tells us Fox 17 reporter Meagan O’Halloran was conducting a Facebook Live “fishbowl” broadcast, in which newsroom personnel are asked to pick a question out of the bowl and answer it for the live viewing audience. Phillips reportedly told O’Halloran “you better not fucking come in my office with that,” and proceeded to repeatedly yell “Fuck you! Fuck you!” on the Facebook Live broadcast after she entered his office. We’re told Phillips then told the rest of the staff “I fucking told her that would happen if she came into my office.” The video was immediately deleted, according to our source.
That meltdown, we’re told, is what led to Phillips’s firing—not the Prince tribute.
FTV Live’s Scott Jones has a similar story:
Phillips said that some viewers and some station managers at the station did not like the cast and he was fired.
“Unfortunately, there were apparently some viewers, as well as management at the station, who did not feel the same way. They felt I was insensitive. And as a result, I was terminated today.”
Well, a station insider says that might not be the only reason that the plug was pulled in Phillips.
Sources tell FTVLive that WZTV Reporter Meagan O’Halloran was doing a Facebook LIVE. She was having other reporters in the newsroom pull questions from a fishbowl, so the audience could get to know them better (It’s sweeps, right?). Anyway, according to our source, when O’Halloran approached Phillips office, he said something, “You better not come into my fucking office”. She did, and word is that Phillips throw down a few more F-Bombs on live Facebook broadcast.
O’Halloran quickly deleted the video, but viewers still saw it on the live stream.
Insiders say that they incident played a big part in his firing as well.
The Deadspin and FTV stories have some subtle differences (Jones cites multiple “insiders” and says that the Facebook Live incident “played a big part” in Phillips’ firing, while Deadspin’s source has it as the reason), but they both paint a picture that not all may be as Phillips presented it. It’s possible that the Prince-referencing sportscast was the final straw that ended his career with the station (he’d been there since 2005), but it’s also possible that management was already looking to move on after the Facebook Live incident. Either way, it’s a very different story than the initial one. It’s curious that WZTV didn’t present this side through an official release, though; it might have spared them a lot of attacks from the internet for being the station that fired someone for paying tribute to Prince.