NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — Some online conspiracy theorists have claimed the news media is trying to cover up the Covenant shooter’s full writings, although that is not true.
News 2 and other outlets requested the writings immediately after the shooting and we’re still waiting; this is in line with the law News 2 follows to obtain copies of public records.
Monday’s leak of the Covenant shooter’s writings has social media buzzing, with many now asking questions and raising statements about the timing of its release and its alleged suppression.
Some of those questions are directed at media outlets. So, how does the process work? It involves a public records request under the public records law.
“The law provides that all government records that are created in the course of business, whether those are records created or received, are public records unless they are specifically exempt under the law,” said Deborah Fisher, the executive director of the Tennessee Coalition for Open Government (TCOG).
Those requesting the information don’t have control over the timing in which the information is released and it’s a process that can take time. When a request is submitted, the government entity has seven days to either release the record or cite the reason or exemption that keeps the files confidential.
“So in relation to the records that were collected by police after the Covenant shooting, when various people and organizations asked for the manifesto, the police cited that this was an investigative record and would remain confidential until the investigation was over,” said Fisher.
News 2 submitted multiple open records requests but did not receive the shooter’s writings. That’s because Metro asked a judge to decide what, if any, of the writings can be released. We’re still waiting on that decision.
“I am a believer in the truth because in the absence of the truth, you end up with conspiracy theories,” said Fisher.