Winner 2023

Hate Comes to Main Street

WTVF-TV, NewsChannel 5

Gabrielle Hanson seemed like a candidate made for the MAGA moment. In Franklin, Tennessee, an affluent suburb of Nashville, the mediagenic alderwoman entered the 2023 mayor’s race against a popular Republican incumbent, running on a far-right platform of Christian nationalism and opposition to LGBTQ rights. But when investigative reporter Phil Williams of WTVF-Newschannel 5 started following Hanson’s campaign, he uncovered a trail of hypocrisy and deceit. Hanson had doctored social media posts touting female support, previously helped run a prostitution service under another name, lied about telling police she had a premonition of a school shooting, and supported her husband’s race for an office in Chicago while claiming residency in Tennessee. Williams persevered as neo-Nazi bodyguards posted threats and Hanson’s supporters tried to block him from questioning her at campaign events. Williams’ stories drew national attention and helped drive record turnout that resulted in Hanson’s decisive loss. For exposing one candidate’s shamelessness and showing the invaluable role of local TV reporting in holding politicians to account, Hate Comes to Main Street wins a Peabody Award.


Associate Producer: Kevin Wisniewski. Talent or Reporter/Correspondent: Phil Williams. Photography: Bryan Staples, Bob Stinnett, Catherine Steward, Devin Crawford, James Garbee.