Continuing to make hay on Monday out of the just ousting of disruptive and disrespectful Democrats that led a violent insurrection at the Tennessee State Capitol two weeks ago, ABC’s GMA3 invited on State Representative Gloria Johnson and ousted representatives Justin Jones and Justin Pearson. Throughout the segment, co-anchors Eva Pilgrim and Phil Lipof carried water and aided the raucous liberals in spreading misinformation about what happened and smearing the Tennessee GOP with false claims of racism.
Leading into the segment, Pilgrim suggested video of their ousting showed a “shocking scene in Nashville last week as the Tennessee House of Representatives voted to expel three lawmakers.” She also claimed they were simply “protesting gun violence on the House floor after the Covenant school shooting.”
Lipof lobbed the first softball, asking Pearson if they knew they were breaking the rules. And despite voting on a rules package as one of their first votes of the session, Pearson claimed they had no clue that leading a mob of people and disrupting official proceedings with a bullhorn was breaking the rules:
LIPOF: But Representative Pearson when you took back to the floor with the bullhorn – you knew – you said you knew it would be violating decorum rules, but did you have any idea that the backlash will be like this from your colleagues?
PEARSON: No, we had no idea that what we were doing would break a rule that could lead to our possible expulsion or our actual expulsions. What we were doing was listening to voters who said that we need to listen to the people who want to have gun safety laws. We need to stop the epidemic of gun violence and we need to stop the proliferation of weapons in our communities, in addition to our schools.
This was followed up by Pilgrim asking Jones, “When did you realize that you may actually lose your job over this?” Jones suggested it was Republicans who were behind “the escalation” of events “when the House speaker, Cameron Sexton went on national news and lied and compare this to [the] January 6 insurrection.”
But as conservative commentator Guy Benson pointed out on Twitter, Jones has a violent history of escalating things with Republicans. “As an activist in 2019, Jones threw a hot cup of coffee at two Republican lawmakers, including the Speaker. Dems then saw fit to nominate & elect him to the chamber, where he insulted an immigrant GOP member with a racial slur, then violated the rules with the bullhorn stunt,” he recalled.
Keeping things on Jones, Lipof wanted them to talk about how “the next day something happened that one could argue, would argue was worse decorum than what happen when he brought the bullhorn to the floor.”
Jones suggested State Rep. Justin Lafferty (R) engaged in “an act of violence” against him when he supposedly “snatched my phone and pushed me” as he “tried to record the people and media being kicked off the House gallery.” He also called it “an act of instigating a reaction” from Lafferty.
Interestingly, ABC did not show the video Jones had made (embedded below) despite his posting it on Twitter. Perhaps it was because it showed Jones walking up to Lafferty from across the room and getting up in his face with this phone camera, even trying to record what was on Lafferty’s own phone. Instigating a reaction indeed.
Tonight as Tennessee House Republicans push forward to schedule vote on our expulsion, Speaker Sexton orders the gallery cleared as crowd chants “fascists.”— Rep. Justin Jones (@brotherjones_) April 4, 2023
Media forced out at as well.
Then, Rep. Lafferty (R-Knox) pushes me and grabs my phone.
This is a sad day for Tennessee. pic.twitter.com/Lh08Ma5kdS
As they neared the end of the segment, Pilgrim veered into pushing the false notion that racism played a role in the ousting of Jones and Pearson. “Let's talk about the racial dynamic here because a lot of people have noticed Representative Johnson is a white woman. You were not expelled. The two of you were expelled and people are looking at this and going, ‘what is really going on here?’” she teed them up.
Jones called it a “political lynching” and said there was “no coincidence, that the two youngest black lawmakers … were kicked out by an almost-entirely white 75-member caucus on strictly partisan lines.” Putting words in the mouths of the Tennessee GOP, he asserted their message was “How dare you think you are equal?”
Pearson’s response agreed with the premise that race played a role, but he also insisted that the reason they were ousted was that they were “advocating for an end of gun violence,” as if Republicans wanted kids to die.
In reality, the outed pair have a history of disruptions and got insulting with their defense speeches before the vote. In contrast, Johnson had her lawyer speak for her and had a more contrite message.
The transcript is below, click "expand" to read:
April 10, 2023
1:37:06 p.m. Eastern
EVA PILGRIM: Back now with the shocking scene in Nashville last week as the Tennessee House of Representatives voted to expel three lawmakers after protesting gun violence on the House floor after the Covenant school shooting.
PHIL LIPOF: Yet, two of the three have been ousted now, as you know, and are fighting to get their jobs back.
Joining us right now the group known as the Tennessee three, Tennessee State Representative Gloria Johnson, newly expelled state representatives Justin Jay Pearson and Justin Jones. Thank you for taking the time and we know it's a busy day and you have to get back for a vote.
But Representative Pearson when you took back to the floor with the bullhorn – you knew – you said you knew it would be violating decorum rules, but did you have any idea that the backlash will be like this from your colleagues?
JUSTIN PEARSON (D-TN, former state rep.): No, we had no idea that what we were doing would break a rule that could lead to our possible expulsion or our actual expulsions. What we were doing was listening to voters who said that we need to listen to the people who want to have gun safety laws. We need to stop the epidemic of gun violence and we need to stop the proliferation of weapons in our communities, in addition to our schools.
This was a tragedy that happened at the Covenant school in Nashville. But instead of addressing the tragedy, the Republicans supermajority in Tennessee decided that our – using our first amendment right to listen to the thousands of protesters deserved expulsion.
PILGRIM: Representative Jones, when did you realize that you may actually lose your job over this?
JUSTIN JONES (D-TN, former state rep.): I think the escalation that we saw was when the House speaker, Cameron Sexton went on national news and lied and compare this to January 6 insurrection. That was the escalation where we started hearing these calls for expulsion, because he mischaracterized what we did. A protest to try to end gun violence with the violent events of January 6.
LIPOF: So, you brought a bullhorn to the floor and then the next day – I was talking to Representative Johnson – the next day something happened that one could argue, would argue was worse decorum than what happen when he brought the bullhorn to the floor. Tell me about that.
PEARSON: We walked to the floor of the well, because we were being silenced by the speaker and by people in positions of power who weren't listening to the thousands of people who showed up to the Capitol saying to do something. We walked to the well of the floor in a peaceful protest, because we know that there is a way to end and to prevent gun violence from happening. And the Republican party in Tennessee would rather try to put more guns and security officers in schools than solutions.
And right now, what we are seeing is the erosion of our democracy. What we are seeing is an attack not only on the first amendment but the erosion of our democracy. That should be a concern of everybody regardless of political party.
LIPOF: But the next day.
GLORIA JOHNSON (D-TN, state rep.): I think what he was referring to was the incident with – remember when they read our expulsions out and the people in the gallery got vocal, and then the altercation that you had.
PEARSON: Oh, where you actually got shoved.
JONES: Representative Lafferty from Knoxville in response to me and tried to record the people and media being kicked of the House gallery, snatched my phone and pushed me. And that obviously was a breach of decorum, but as we see there's not accountability when it comes from people on their side. For us for a mere act of nonviolent protest, immediate expulsion, but an act of violence, an act of instigating a reaction, there is no remorse and no accountability.
1:40:33 p.m. Eastern
PILGRIM: Let's talk about the racial dynamic here, because a lot of people have noticed Representative Johnson is a white woman. You were not expelled. The two if you were expelled and people are looking at this and going, “what is really going on here?” What do you take of all of this?
PEARSON: We cannot ignore the racial dynamics that are undergirding actually this institution within the state Capitol. And we really have to make sure that in this conversation we are not only addressing the racial dynamic, but why were expulsion paper filed on any of us: The reason was we were advocating for an end of gun violence. We said we have to stand up to the National Rifle Association and the Tennessee Firearms Association that are big donors and support of a lot of people in the Republican Party of Tennessee.
We’re here and we were – had papers filed and were expelled not only because we had a peaceful protest, but it was what we were talking about which was listening to the millions of Tennesseans who actually want to see change. That’s what ended up happening. And going against that status quo that says you need to be silent and you need to be controlled by people in power and you don't need to listen to your constituents; like Larry Thorne and his mother. That is what got that resistance to the status quo is what led to our expulsion.
What do you think? [Points to Jones]
JONES: I think there is no coincidence, that the two youngest black lawmakers – I’m 27, Representative Pearson is 28 – were kicked out by an almost-entirely white 75-member caucus on strictly partisan lines. It was a political lynching. It was attempt to make a spectacle, an example out of us. To say, “How dare you think you are equal?”