Politics & Policy

The Corner

Video Destroys Trump Campaign Spin as Michelle Fields Files Criminal Charges

Yesterday, I wrote a lengthy post outlining the charges and countercharges between Breitbart’s Michelle Fields and the Donald Trump campaign. Fields claimed that Trump’s campaign manager, Corey Lewandowski, yanked her away from Trump when she tried to ask him a question about affirmative action, bruising her arm and almost causing her to fall. Fields tweeted a photo of the bruises, and a Washington Post reporter backed her account — as did an audio recording of the event.

The Trump campaign responded with scorched earth. Not only did it release a statement falsely claiming that no other reporter witnessed the incident, Lewandowski himself spewed forth a vile series of tweets that not only implied Fields was a fabulist, he also implied that she’d made up a sexual harassment charge in the recent past. The campaign demanded to see video evidence. 

Well, here it is — at the eight second mark, Lewandowski can be seen reaching for Fields:

Slowed-down video shows Lewandowski reaching more clearly, and now Fields has filed a criminal complaint. As I said before, the Trump campaign’s behavior has been reprehensible. When faced with a credible, corroborated claim of mistreatment, a responsible campaign pledges to investigate and treats the alleged victim with respect. Instead, the campaign chose to lie and — even worse — to attempt to ruin Fields’s reputation.

At the same time, Breitbart has hardly covered itself in glory. While it’s standing by Fields now, it published a (now much-updated) article that stated, embarrassingly:

New video of Donald Trump’s press conference Tuesday evening shows that the Washington Post’s account of an altercation involving Breitbart News reporter Michelle Fields could not possibly have happened as Ben Terris reported.

Could not possibly have happened? That’s a strong — and now unsupportable — statement. Breitbart’s public relations executive, Kurt Bardella, has resigned, stating in an email:

“When you reach a point where you can’t give 100% to people you represent, it’s not tenable to continue representing them,” Bardella wrote. “My own personal observation is that there is a cycle of behavior that is escalating and it’s happening exclusively at Donald Trump events. It is wrong, disgusting and indicative of an ugliness that is contaminating the public and political discourse in our country. Life is too short to invest your time in things you don’t believe and aren’t passionate about. That is why I made the decision to resign from representing Breitbart.”

Breitbart has been key to Trump’s rise, and now it has enabled attacks on its own reporter’s credibility when her story conflicted with the campaign’s. It is difficult to associate with thugs without being stained.

David French — David French is a senior writer for National Review, a senior fellow at the National Review Institute, and a veteran of Operation Iraqi Freedom.

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