Kurt Bardella, a spokesman for the far-right news organization Breitbart, resigned today amid a controversy over the company’s treatment of staff reporter Michelle Fields. When asked if he resigned because he disagreed with the way the company handled the Fields situation, Bardella told BuzzFeed “It would be fair for you to say that.”
On Tuesday, Fields was asking Donald Trump a question when a man grabbed her arm and pulled her away from the candidate, leaving a bruise. Ben Terris, a Washington Post reporter who was also on the scene, identified the man as Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski, as did Fields herself. Fields filed a criminal complaint against Lewandowski today, and the Trump campaign—including Trump himself—has spent the last several days denying that Lewandowski was involved.
Rather than standing by its own reporter’s account of her assault—as Time did when a photographer working for the magazine was choke slammed at a Trump event, and as any journalist would hope that her employer would—Breitbart set about attempting to prove Fields wrong. A bizarre report published today by Breitbart’s Joel Pollak concluded that the manhandling “could not possibly have happened as Ben Terris reported,” despite presenting nothing close to conclusive evidence. Why did Breitbart hang Fields out to dry? Maybe to preserve its own ties with the Trump campaign, which it has covered in a mostly very positive manner.
“What I personally feel is one thing, but as someone who’s supposed to represent them at the public-facing side of this, I was at the point where I couldn’t give 100% of myself and best thing to do was to let them know that,” Bardella told BuzzFeed of his decision to quit.
Bardella also referenced an “escalating cycle of behavior” at Trump events on Twitter.