Less than one week after a national political reporter said she was attacked by Donald Trump's presidential campaign manager, the Breitbart News reporter and its editor-at-large have resigned, adding to growing unrest at the conservative news organization.
In a statement released to BuzzFeed News, reporter Michelle Fields said she tendered her resignation Sunday because of the conservative news website's handling of the alleged assault.
Breitbart News editor-at-large Ben Shapiro also tendered his resignation Sunday night, claiming the site's strong support for Trump and its reaction to Fields' reported assault “betrayed” the life mission of Breitbart News founder Andrew Breitbart.
“Andrew built his life and his career on one mission: fight the bullies,” Shapiro said in a statement released to BuzzFeed News. “In my opinion, (Breitbart News Chairman) Steve Bannon is a bully, and has sold out Andrew's mission in order to back another bully, Donald Trump; he has shaped the company into Trump's personal Pravda, to the extent that he abandoned and undercut his own reporter, Michelle Fields, in order to protect Trump's bully campaign manager, Corey Lewandowski, who allegedly assaulted Michelle.”
For its part, Brietbart announced the resignation early Monday through a story headlined “Ben Shapiro Betrays Loyal Breitbart Readers in Pursuit of Fox News Contributorship.” The news site claimed Shapiro was “abandoning Andrew Breitbart's lifelong best friend, widow, hand-picked management team and friends,” in favor of raising his profile while it also slammed BuzzFeed News as a trivial news organization.
The story didn't mention Fields' resignation and has since been taken offline.
Tensions have simmered at Breitbart News for months due to its pro-Trump editorial stance, and the recent confrontation between Fields and Lewandowski is expected to lead to more resignations, Politico reported.
On Friday, Breitbart spokesman Kurt Bardella announced his resignation, saying that he was uncertain he could continue to stand by the website in the wake of its response to Fields' injuries.
“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 a statement released to The Washington Post. “It is wrong, disgusting and indicative of an ugliness that is contaminating the public and political discourse in our country.”
Fields filed a report with the Jupiter Police Department on March 8 after she said she was attacked with “hands, feet, (a) fist (and) teeth.” Fields claimed Lewandowski grabbed her hard enough to leave bruises on her arm after she asked Trump a question following a news conference.
In the report, she did not name Lewandowski. Police are investigating the case as a simple battery, a misdemeanor.
In the aftermath of Fields' allegations, Breitbart News published a story which suggested Fields misidentified the person who attacked her after the Trump rally based on video of the confrontation, Politico reported. Later, when more footage emerged to show Lewandowski reaching toward Fields, Breitbart updated its story.
For his part, Trump has denied the attack took place and said Fields may have made up the confrontation.
Support real journalism. Support local journalism. Subscribe to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution today. See offers.
Your subscription to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution funds in-depth reporting and investigations that keep you informed. Thank you for supporting real journalism.