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Reporter Fired after Disparaging GOP Senate Candidate on Tape

(Eric Miller/REUTERS)

A reporter for a local Michigan newspaper was fired Monday after she was captured on tape insulting Republican Senate candidate John James in a voicemail she inadvertently left at his campaign headquarters.

Brenda Battel, a reporter for the Huron Daily Tribune, called the James campaign office Monday evening to set up a post-election interview with the candidate.

After asking to set up an appointment, Battel, who mistakenly believed she hung up the phone, can be heard expressing disdain for James, an African American combat veteran challenging Democratic senator Debbie Stabenow.

“I’m looking to set up an appointment with Mr. James for some time on Wednesday for a phone interview regarding the election results,” Battel said, according to audio first obtained by the Daily Caller. “I’m probably going to send an email over to the info@johnjamesforsenate.com with some details. Um, if you’d like to call me back, my number is … extension … Thank you.”

“Man, if he beats her . . . Jesus! Fu**ing John James. That would suck! Whew, I don’t think it’s going to happen though,” she continued.

Huron Daily Tribune editor Kate Hessling made no effort to defend Battel’s conduct in a statement released Tuesday.

“I have listened to the voicemail left by Brenda Battel to Mr. James’ campaign, and find no reason to defend this behavior,” Hessling said. “Brenda Battel’s employment has been immediately terminated.”

“The Huron Daily Tribune sincerely apologizes to Mr. James and to the public,” she continued. “These statements do not represent the views of the Tribune as a whole, nor do they reflect the actions of a responsible journalist.”

James’s campaign manager cited the incident as evidence of pervasive media bias and suggested it was motivated by his recent surge in the polls.

“It shows you that some media will do anything to keep the status quo and career politicians in power,” campaign manager Tori Sachs said Monday. “The liberal media can’t stand the idea of a job creator and combat veteran coming to Washington to shake up the system. This happened as we closed in within the margin of error.”

The Real Clear Politics polling average has Stabenow leading by 8.3 percentage points as the race draws to a close.

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