If you don’t know, you should know. You need to know.
On Tuesday, March 8, 2016 former BREITBART News reporter, Michelle Fields claimed she had been assaulted by Trump’s (aka. the Duck’s) campaign manager, Corey Lewandowski (@CLewandowski) after a press conference in Florida. Fields claimed she was grabbed and violently thrown aside by Lewandowski. Field’s wasn’t just making public announcements. In fact, she was so sure that it happened she filed a police report with the Jupiter Police Department. The Independent Journal cited the police report as stating:
The Jupiter Police Department is currently investigating an alleged battery that occured at 115 Eagle Tree Terrace (Trump National) on March 8, 2016. A police report was filed with Jupiter Police Department on March 11, 2016 at approximately 10:00 AM and the investigation is ongoing. As with any investigation, specific details concerning criminal investigative informatoin is not releasable while the investigation is considered active.
I used the term ‘so sure’ it happened to describe how Fields felt about the incident because of the way the Duck and Lewandoski responded. The Independent Journal posted a video of the Duck’s response to the incident on twitter. He’s quoted as saying:
They said absolutely nothing happened. He [Lewandowski] didn’t hear about it until the next day. So, I wasn’t invovled in it. But the Secret Service was surrounding everybody. They said nothing happened. Everybody said nothing happened. Perhaps she made the story up. I think that’s what happened.
Lewandowski, in some sort of effort to clear his name, tweeted out the following article during the media blitz surrounding him:
The Link is to a BREITBART news article titled, ‘VIDEO SHOWS LEWANDOWSKI REACHING IN MICHELLE FIELDS’S DIRECTION’. It was written by Joel Pollak. The article was originally posted on March 11, 2016. The site attempts to break down the incident with frame-by-frame analysis. It claims someone else, likely a security guard, grabs Fields. Not Lewandowski. Let’s just take a minute.
Fields, an employee of BREITBART, reported she was assaulted by the Duck’s campaign manager on Tuesday, March 8th. On March 11, just three days later, her employer had published an article discrediting her. Enter Ben Terris.
Ben Terris (@bterris), is a reporter at the Washington Post. Terris recounted the incident in his article Inside Trump’s Inner circle, hist staff are willing to fight for him. Literally:
….Michelle Fields, a young reporter for Trump-friendly Breitbart News, Pressed forward to ask the Republican front-runner a question. I watched as a man with short-cropped hair and a suit grabbed her arm and yanked her out of the way. He was Corey Lewandowski, Trump’s 41-year-old campaign manager.
Erik Wemple, who also works at the Washington Post, responded to the poorly written BREITBART article that claimed Lewandowski hadn’t grabbed Fields with certainty on behalf of Terris:
For his part, Terris isn’t budging. “I saw what I saw”, Said Terris in a brief chat with this blog. During the whole incident, says Terris, he had his “eyes trained on Corey Lewandowski,” because Terrris was there to profile the campaign team with a focus on Lewandowski. Terris took strong issue with Pollak’s assertion that mistaken identity is the “likeliest explanation” based in part on Lewandowski’s denials. “Because he denied it?” asked Terris. “This is Breitbart”.
BRETIBART has been criticized for being pro-Duck. Loyd Grove, of the Daily Beast characterized the website as “Trump Friendly”. Grove continued BREITBART “regularly savages the GOP establishment, the media elite, the Washington consultant class, and the Fox News Channel”. BREITBART itself has stated that BREITBART is a “private company and we [BREITBART] don’t comment on who our investors or backers are”.
I think it’s a safe bet BREITBART received some pretty strict marching orders from these private investors to shut down Field’s story ASAP. BREITBART complied. Welcome to America. Welcome to American Democracy. And welcome to journalism in 2015 where money buys the truth.
There’s also this moment. We can’t see Lewandowski grab Fields. But it sure looks like he’s reaching for something.
Fields also tweeted this picture of her arm:
And there’s this. The audio file. It appears to be from Fields phone and is currently hosted (here). It’s worth a listen. The crucial part of the audio file starts at 0:30:
Fields: Mr. Trump you went after the late [Justice] Scalia for affirmative action, do you — are you still against affirmative action.
Unidentified Voice: Excuse me, thank you.
There’s silence for three seconds and then:
About 6 seconds later
Fields: Holy Shit.
Terris: Ya, he just like threw you over.
Fields: I can’t believe he just did that. That was so hard. Oh my – was that Corey?
Terris: Ya, like what threat were you?
Ferris: That was insane. You should have felt how hard he grabbed me. Oh my gosh, I’ve never had anyone do that to me from a campaign.
Terris: Can I put that in my story?
Fields: Yeah, go for it – that was really awful. That’s so unprofessional.
Terris: He really just almost threw you on the ground.
Fields: He literally went like this and was grabbing me down. I don’t even want to do what he just did to me. Oh my God, that really spooked me that someone would do that.
Terris: What threat were you?
Fields: Nothing. I was asking about affirmative action.
Terris: And he probably knows you, right?
The audio tape provides insight into Field’s state of mind immediately following the alleged incident. It’s clear she’s in shock and reacting spontaneously. In Canada, there is an exception which allows out of court statements being admitted as evidence if they are considered ‘spontaneous utterances’ made by the victim, or a bystander, if the risk of concoction or distortion can be excluded. If you don’t believe me you can read this case. You won’t. And that’s okay. I don’t blame you. The exception allows statements made in the ‘heat of the moment’ to be included because the court presumes the witness doesn’t have the time or faculties to lie. In the audio tape both Fields and Terris identify Lewandowski. Both Fields and Terris describe a violent altercation between Fields and Lewandowski.
Oh, and this isn’t the first time there has been violence at one of the Duck’s rallies. Oh, and the Duck has been calling for violence at his rallies for quite some time (If you want to skip the politics and just listen to the Duck, let the video load and jump to 3:40). Violence coming from the Duck’s campaign itself should be no surprise. It should be something more akin to seeing dark clouds on the horizon and then dressing for rain.
Some people are going to freak out and claim Fields planned the whole thing. Which just may be the case. But I doubt it. She was recording because she’s a reporter. That’s her job. I don’t think we can say she was recording for the sole purpose of catching this incident. Her initial reaction is silence and then “Jesus” and “Holy Shit”. That sounds like someone who is in shock. Is there a chance she played it up slightly after she regained her faculties because she knew she was recording? Possibly. Is Fields caught up in the media frenzy and likely pretty overwhelmed at this moment. Yes. Very likely.
But I don’t think we can say the Liberal party is operating at a level where they got a writer at a pro-Duck news corporation to expertly bate and entrap Lewandowski. If they are, they’re operating a whole new level.
So, what we’re left with is a Presidential Candidate, a Campaign Manager, a privately funded and well known pro-Trump Website who employed Fields, all denying that the Campaign Manager grabbed Fields. They want to point the finger at a security guard.
We have the reporter herself, and a third party in Terris, and some rather damning video and audio evidence saying the Campaign Manager grabbed Fields – to the point she was in shock and was bruised. My money is on these guys. In fact, I’d bet the house on it.
Yet, I’d also argue, ultimately it doesn’t matter who grabbed Fields, who was just doing her job by the way. Sure, if Lewandowski used force to stop Fields from asking questions it is more concerning. But if the unnamed security guard used force I’d say it’s still a cause for alarm. A precedent has been set by the Duck’s ducklings: if someone is creating an issue that we don’t want to deal with, physical force is an acceptable way to remove that problem. And that should scare the shit out of us.
Further, what Fields asked or said is irrelevant in this case. It doesn’t matter. The media’s role, the media’s purpose, in the realm of politics was originally intended to press the issue. The incident in question took place at a ‘presser’. The media is there to rustle feathers. They are there to ask the questions Presidential Nominees don’t want to answer. We as the public rely on them. We need them. At least, that’s how it’s supposed to be.
Politicians generally dodge the pointed questions. It’s a dance that has been carried out on the dance-floor of politics for decades. And yet, candidates and Presidents have always been willing to show up to this dance-floor. It’s implied. It’s part of the gig.
But not the Duck. The Duck, once again, has shown he doesn’t give a shit how the game is played. He does things his way, no matter the cost, and by whatever means necessary. He will reach his end. Even if the means require the physical abuse of a female news reporter.
When Fields was pressing the Duck and his team, traditional politics and journalism gave him three options:
- Answer honestly;
- Dodge the question; or
- Say nothing.
Trump has introduced a fourth option: physically remove the journalist. Physically remove the problem. Trump has decided he doesn’t want to dance. He’ll cause physical harm ensuring you don’t dance with him. This is scary. This is new. And it should cause serious alarm for journalists and the American public alike.
It’s just one facet of what Sheldon Wolin calls ‘Inverted Totalitarianism’. Chris Hedges, author of ‘Sheldon Wolin and Inverted Totalitarianism‘, describes Inverted Totalitarianism as being different:
…..from classical forms of totalitarianism. It does not find its expression in a demagogue or charismatic leader but in the faceless anonymity of the corporate state. Our inverted totalitarianism pays outward fealty to the facade of electoral politics, the Constitution, civil liberties, freedom of the press, the independence of the judiciary, the iconography, traditions and language of American patriotism, but it has effectively seized all of the mechanisms of power to render the citizen impotent.
The Duck has harnessed both. He is a charismatic leader to some. And he has effectively robbed the press of it’s freedom as evidenced through BREITBART. He is a clown singing and dancing with such lunacy that people smart enough to see it can’t look away and people not educated enough, through no fault of their own, think he’s something real. Someone who will offer real solutions.
To her credit Fields quit BREITBART. That takes guts. This woman should be commended for having a spine and sticking by her story. It’s rare today, especially in the media. Further, the editor-at-large at BREITBART, Ben Shapiro, also quit. Shapiro’s statement regarding his departure stated:
Both Lewandowski and Trump maligned Michelle in the most repulsive fashion. Meanwhile, Breitbart News not only stood by and did nothing outside of tepidly asking for an apology, they then attempted to abandon Michelle by silencing staff from tweeting or talking about the issues. Finally, in the ultimate indignity, they undermined Michelle completely by running a poorly-evidenced conspiracy theory as their lead story in which Michelle and Terris had somehow misidentified Lewandowski.
Good for Shapiro. This is massive. This is what we need more of today.
We now know the Ducks’s crisis management strategy regarding journalists:
Step 1: Forcefully remove the problem, even if that problem is a journalist.
Step 2: Deny all involvement or knowledge of the incident.
Step 3: Use direct or in-direct connections with Media outlets to silence the story. Especially if they employ the problem.
It’s disgusting. It’s wrong. It reeks of an empty husk of a man with nothing but cowardice inside of him. Good luck America.
Let’s hope this precedent, the precedent that physical force is a solution to silence a journalist, is quickly overturned. Else journalists who know just a little too much may be treated like this one day: