The controversy over a Trump campaign manager’s alleged manhandling of a Breitbart News reporter has led to the resignation of a spokesman for the conservative media outlet.
In a series of tweets, independent publicist Kurt Bardella resigned from the account of Breitbart News on Friday, shaken by the incident in which Michelle Fields asserted she was assaulted by Corey Lewadowski after a campaign event in Jupiter, Fla.
In a later interview with CNN’s Don Lemon, Bardella also suggested that Breitbart management has not done enough to support its own reporter’s account despite pressure from the Trump campaign, which has outwardly supported. “I just disagree with the course of which they’ve been covering this, and how they’ve treated Michelle,” Bardella said.
Bardella, whose firm Endeavor Strategies has represented Breitbart since 2013, also expressed a deeper dissatisfaction with the nature of American politics.
“My own personal observation is that there is a cycle of behavior that is escalating and it’s happening exclusively at Donald Trump events,” Bardella said in his online statement. “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,” said Bardella, a former aide to California GOP Rep. Darrell Issa.
Bardella’s resignation from Breitbart capped three rocky days for the Trump campaign. Fields said her arm was yanked by Lewandowski on Tuesday, as she approached Donald Trump, the frontrunner for the GOP nomination, for questions about affirmative action, after a campaign event at the Trump National Golf Club in Jupiter, Fla.
Subsequent media reports in The Washington Post identified Lewandowski as the one who grabbed Fields, despite rebuttals from the Trump campaign — including the candidate himself. Fields later filed a police report against Lewandowski and posted pictures of her apparently bruised arm. The Daily Beast reported that Lewandowski ultimately admitted grabbing Fields, claiming he didn’t recognize her.
After the incident, editors at Breitbart, appeared to be of two minds — both supporting Fields and her account of events on Tuesday, while tweaking its news reports to call into question Fields’ assertion and those of Ben Terris, the Washington Post reporter who corroborated Fields’ accusation from the beginning.
Breitbart CEO Larry Solov released a statement saying, “Breitbart News stands behind Michelle Fields.” But Politico reported on Breitbart’s apparent hedging on Friday: “Though the conservative, and often pro-Trump site, noted in its first report that ‘the altercation itself is not shown’ … the site suggested that a security official who resembles campaign manager Corey Lewandowski may have been the one who pulled Fields away.”
And a series of texts between Breitbart and Lewandowski also underscored Bardella’s sense that the media outlet was less than impartial on the Fields-Lewandowski incident. The texts, obtained and released by Media Matters, reveal a media company in a defensive crouch. In one of the texts, Breitbart’s Washington political editor, Matthew Boyle, called the incident in Jupiter “a misunderstanding nothing bad” and said “I wanna make sure this doesn’t turn into a story.”
It was apparently that cozy relationship between Breitbart and the Trump campaign that led to Bardella’s resignation on Friday.