The press is to have an adversarial, yet civil approach to those in, or running, for elected office. Never in this line of work is it acceptable to respond to reasonable and legitimate questioning with use of physical force. The photographs, audio, videos, and witness accounts documenting the treatment of Michelle Fields by Corey Lewandowski, Donald Trump’s campaign manager, are inexcusable and unprofessional. Donald Trump should immediately remove Lewandowski from his campaign. However unlike the Trump campaign, we believe in making a statement on the record to clearly highlight the difference between right and wrong.
The above quote was from a press release signed by 16 conservative females in response to the developments surrounding an incident which took place between Corey Lewandowski, Donald Trump’s campaign manager, and Michelle Fields, a reporter. The full letter is below:
By now this incident has been discussed to death, mostly because it is a Trump mishap. If you’ll notice, the vast majority, if not all of the signatories are anti Trump pundits, and as such, this sort of story is heaven sent. It seemingly allows them to further push the idea that Trump is a woman hating Neanderthal who is dangerous and bad. It also seemingly gives credence to the idea that there is a specter of violence surrounding the Trump campaign, which does not bode well for the country as a whole should he be elected president.
This allowed the other candidates to gain cheap points by pandering to women. Given the other candidates all have an interest in any anti-Trump talking point, they were all more than happy to pile on with the outrage. The story hasn’t completely died, because of the way Trump has responded.
Instead of immediately firing Lewandowski, who has been charged with battery over the incident, Trump went on the offensive and has defended his campaign manager at almost every turn. That continued last night on Sean Hannity’s show on Fox.
That appearance led to even more outrage from the anti-Trump crowd still pushing this story, and Fields in particular. In the following exchange with Hannity on Twitter, she accuses him of not having her back and letting Trump off scot-free:
Just in case you still haven’t seen the incident, and aren’t sure what I’m talking about, the following is security footage released by the Jupiter, Florida police department.
If you’re not sure what you’re looking at, at the start of the video Fields is in the cream colored top walking next to Trump, attempting to ask him a question. From about 0:03 to 0:08 in the video is where the alleged battery takes place.
Shortly after the conference had ended, Fields penned this piece for Breitbart, describing her version of events (emphasis mine):
On Tuesday night, I went to cover Donald Trump’s press conference at the Trump National Golf Club in Jupiter, Florida. I was looking to cover the event like I have covered many live political events for Breitbart News, including an uneventful Trump press conference in Palm Beach the week before.
Addressing the gathered reporters and the nation at large, Trump was in an especially jovial mood Tuesday night. The networks just declared he had won the Mississippi Republican primary and, during his speech, that he won Michigan Republican primary as well.
I wasn’t called upon to ask a question during the televised press conference, but afterwards Trump wandered around, stopping at every reporter to take their questions. When he approached me, I asked him about his view on an aspect of affirmative action.
Trump acknowledged the question, but before he could answer I was jolted backwards. Someone had grabbed me tightly by the arm and yanked me down. I almost fell to the ground, but was able to maintain my balance. Nonetheless, I was shaken.
The Washington Post’s Ben Terris immediately remarked that it was Trump’s campaign manager, Corey Lewandowski, who aggressively tried to pull me to the ground. I quickly turned around and saw Lewandowski and Trump exiting the building together. No apology. No explanation for why he did this.
Even if Trump was done taking questions, Lewandowski would be out of line. Campaign managers aren’t supposed to try to forcefully throw reporters to the ground, no matter the circumstance. But what made this especially jarring is that there was no hint Trump was done taking questions. No one was pushing him to get away. He seemed to have been happily answering queries from my fellow reporters just a moment before.
Many people have been asking me on Twitter and in emails what exactly happened Tuesday night. I hope this article answers those questions and I can get back to reporting the news, not being a part of it.
Lewandowski responded via this tweet:
This is what kicked everything off, as Lewandowski essentially called Fields a liar and claimed to have never touched Fields. At time, Trump responded to a question about the incident by saying that Fields may have made the whole thing up. Note that at the time of Fields’ account on Breitbart, and Lewandowski’s tweet, there was no video.
Once the video came out, the knives came out for Lewandowski and Trump for claiming the incident never happened, and in particular over their language intimating that Fields was a crazy lady making things up.
The position that the Trump team have been lying and smearing Fields is on weak grounds, however. This is because of the discrepancy between the video evidence, and what I have highlighted in Fields’ statement. Any rational human being can see in the video that Lewandowski did not try and forcefully throw Fields to the ground. She did not almost lose her balance, she did not seem shaken, there was not any element of violence from Lewandowski.
It was that accusation, specifically Fields’ insistence in Breitbart that she had been brutally assaulted Mortal Kombat style, which was so thoroughly denounced by Lewandowski and Trump.
Yes, Lewandowski did literally touch Fields. However, he was responding to allegations that he had violently thrown a reporter to the ground. Imagine that, for example, you were walking in a crowd and bumped into a random person, but kept going without apologizing. Then, two days later, the police came to your house and said that you punched that person in the face, leaving that person hospitalized, and were now under arrest.
Most people would be totally incredulous, and claim that the accuser was deluded. Given that bumping into someone in a crowd is such an inconsequential thing that it wouldn’t register in one’s memory, it is easy to see how one would say they didn’t even touch the accuser, let alone landed a blow worthy of hospitalization.
To be sure, Lewandowski was completely guilty of being impolite, rude, and perhaps even unprofessional. However, anyone who has ever been in a crowded public space has been subject to that sort of behavior and worse from others. I’m sure this morning alone, hundreds if not thousands have undergone similar ‘assaults’ in the NYC subways on the way to work.
As such Lewandowski (and Trump) both suggesting that Fields was a bit deluded isn’t an egregious thing, because the truth is that she did grossly embellish what happened. The fact that we even have the video above is because Trump’s security reviewed it and gave to the police voluntarily, in order to absolve Lewandowski. The Trump team correctly came to the conclusion that the whole thing was much ado about nothing, and figured that the video would show that.
Instead, the response was the week long media storm that I previously alluded to. It has been driven by the #NeverTrump movement in conjunction with the usual suspects in the liberal and conservative establishment media. What is more interesting than that however, is the calls for Trump to fire Lewandowski, and his refusal to acquiesce. It is a microcosm of a larger issue that plagues our society.
We are now living in a society in which allegations and accusations are more or less equal to convictions. This is most prevalent in sexual assault cases, where the accused male is dragged through the mud for simply being accused. If the individual is high profile enough, he generally has to resign, endorsements are withdrawn, and so forth. Whether the accused is actually guilty or not is of little consequence.
In other words, the truth is of little consequence when it comes to the feelings of the Social Justice Warrior outrage mob. This episode is particularly interesting given the fact that the 16 signatories of the letter asking for Lewandowski’s dismissal are purportedly conservative, and have railed against some of the tactics of Social Justice Warriors in the past.
Yet, they are now happy to employ those same tactics when the subject is Donald Trump. That belies an inconsistency within the mainstream, establishment faction of the GOP which is at the very heart of its current demise, and simultaneous rise of Donald Trump.
This is exactly why the GOP establishment is out of touch with everyday Americans. They see a video like the one above, and see a man being extremely rude. Most people brush it off a few seconds later. So, when they see that police charges, and calls for being fired, all over the same incident, they scratch their heads. Not because they are wondering what they could have missed, but because they are wondering how one can be so disingenuous one can be in attacking a rival.
My advice to the #NeverTrump crowd is to let this one go. The more the public sees of this incident, the more they will come to the conclusion that the media is dishonest, and that Trump is right. Trying to convince people not to believe what their lying eyes tell them is only going to make them stop and think. They will wonder why everyone from all corners of politics, and the big interests are going to such lengths to denounce Trump, and they will come to the conclusion that the man who everyone is slinging mud at is actually favorable to the mudslingers, when it is clear they are dishonest.