We’ve crossed over to the bizarre world where assaulting a reporter is acceptable behavior.
Breitbart reporter Michelle Fields was doing her job on March 8 when she was reportedly physically assaulted by Corey Lewandowski, Donald Trump’s campaign manager. Naturally, one would assume the reporter’s own employer would come to her aid and the manager would be fired.
Instead, the opposite happened and it’s indicative of a larger issue at-hand.
Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump walks with his campaign manager Corey Lewandowski, left, after speaking at a news conference, Tuesday, Aug. 25, 2015, in Dubuque, Iowa. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)
During an event in which Fields was serving as a replacement for Alex Swoyer’s usual beat (he was sick with the flu), she posed an affirmative action question to Trump during a media scrum. Fields later penned an article, in which she said Trump had even acknowledged the question. Lewandowski then alledgedly “grabbed Fields from behind” by her left forearm and pulled her toward the ground “like a ragdoll,” according to witnesses.
Witnesses told her that it was Lewandowski. Fields was left with a “purple bruise” and instead of her employer backing her, they alledgedly tried to shut her up. As in, they told her not to talk to anyone about it, and Daily Caller journalist (and boyfriend) Jamie Weinstein was reportedly pressured not long after to stop his “immature” tweets in defense of her.
Regardless of what genre, sport or political arena you cover, if you are a journalist or news site, this should tick you off. As a journalist and a woman, this sickens me. Where is the bold support from Fields’ employer? Why does Trump’s campaign manager still have a job? Where is the outcry over the treatment of this woman?
It’s bad enough that the press tailors its reports and coverage nowadays, in the self interest of whatever draws more pageviews. All too often, protecting one’s own is secondary to ensuring the safety of lined pockets. Yet, despite witnesses and bruises for evidence, Breitbart’s short statement cast doubt from their perspective as to the validity of the incident. They took the coward’s way out by significantly softening the blow of criticism.
It's the job of the press to ask the tough questions, not worry about having their questions controlled or receive abuse. For Lewandowski to get physical and later acknowledge the assault, while at the same time saying he’d done so because he mistook her “for an adversarial member of the mainstream media” is damming. He should be fired. End of story.
Lewandowski’s excuse that he assaulted her only because he didn’t know she was with a certain media outlet is unconscionable. It is unacceptable under any circumstances. You don’t get to scapegoat your assault on that or any other basis. It’s mind-boggling insanity. How dare you.
But then, that’s been the modus operandi of the Trump campaign. Trump himself has had absolutely no issue with insulting and verbally attacking, insulting, or embarrassing women (or the disabled) -- and has done so throughout his adult life. It’s an alarmingly bad habit and one that continually gets largely ignored. It’s the equivalent to the bully in the playground beating up another kid and the teachers are just telling the other kids they’re overreacting.
Impartiality is crucial to journalism. It’s what allows reporters to look at both sides, analyze the information found, and present it to the public in the interest of truth. Without impartiality and integrity, true journalism is dead. Without a free press, freedom of speech for ordinary citizens is in danger. And lately, favoritism and fear have taken over the journalistic world, and it’s emboldened a lack of accountability.
Trump has already said that as president he would crack down on the press if they say something he doesn’t like. That should frighten people and wake them up. It’s a dangerous notion.
Lewandowski’s actions are his own, but they are a symptom of the disease -- Donald Trump. Violence begets violence, and the same can be said for tyranny or intimidation. No journalist should ever be pressed into silence by his or her own company, especially under circumstances such as this.
Trump encourages this kind of behavior. Fields has become the unfortunate center of an alarming story through no fault of her own. If it had happened with any other candidate, it would be plastered on every newspaper, online news site, and television screen for weeks. The bloodbath of criticism toward the campaign’s treatment of reporters and women would not end.
In order to do that, though, news agencies -- and especially the large TV companies -- would have to look at Trump with impartial eyes. They would have to report everything and stop treating him with kid gloves, but that would serve them ill in the long run and it’s not worth it. Trump is juicy meat roasting on a spit 24/7, and the physical abuse of a journalist doing her job is nothing more than an inconvenience.
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