Much to their chagrin, the corporately controlled big media D.C. cabal has had no measurable affect on slowing the political ascension of Donald Trump.
So I guess their next ploy is to try and tarnish the personal reputations of Trump’s top campaign executives.
It’s a sad state of political life in America these days. Nothing is sacred, or off-limits in the hot pursuit of an ideological—or donor-driven—agenda.
Enter Trump’s iconic campaign manager, Corey Lewandowski, stage right.
Lewandowski joined team Trump as campaign director early last year. He previously served in senior executive positions with the non-partisan free enterprise advocacy group Americans for Prosperity.
By all accounts, Lewandowski has done one of the best jobs in presidential campaign history. He’s taken a candidate that entered the race at one percent in the polls, that no one in media initially took seriously (except me), to the brink of becoming the 2016 GOP nominee for President.
He’s accomplished this feat with little money spent per vote relative to the other candidates, no Super PAC, and very few heavyweight endorsements until recently.
But now he has come under fire by media outlets and journalists for what they call “inappropriate behavior.” Some have gone so far as to speculate that Lewandowski could sink the Trump campaign.
A recent article in Politico accused him of retaliating against perceived negative press coverage by pulling a Politico reporter’s media credentials for Trump.
Another reporter, Michelle Fields at Breitbart, said Lewandowski maliciously grabbed her arm at a press gaggle, leaving her with a bruise. She has filed a police complaint along with tweeting out her account of the episode. Ms. Fields resigned her position at Breitbart, with several of her colleagues following her out the door, saying their news outlet did not immediately stand behind the reporter.
Let’s break these down, starting with the credentials accusation.
Like many candidates running for President who draw large numbers of press at public gatherings, the Trump communications team grant media credentials by request. It’s a simple email sent to their communications staff in New York City. Lewandowski is not involved in the decision.
I have personally applied for Trump press credentials for scores of Trump events I’ve covered and broadcasted live, including rallies, election watch events, news conferences, presidential debates, etc.
I apply and get accepted. But space is limited at certain venues and cold business decisions have to be made. That’s how they run their campaign.
I applied for press credentials for the Trump news conference on Tuesday, March 15 in Florida. I was denied credentials via email. Naturally I was disappointed.
I was the first media personality in the nation to predict Trump would be the 2016 GOP nominee, doing so publicly in April 2015 before he even announced. Then I officially endorsed him. I’ll assume I’m not on the team Trump credentialing blacklist.
My core following is in Virginia and D.C. and our primaries are over. I don’t have the mass national coverage of some other media outlets competing for press space at their Florida venue. So they denied me.
I sent a reply email that read: “OK, thanks.” That was that.
It’s part of the business. To create a conspiracy over not getting credentialed at one event is pure fantasy.
Truth be told, Politico routinely writes negative Trump pieces that are so egregious it is almost as if they are knowingly being dishonest and don’t care as long as it fits their leftist, elitist agenda. The entire Trump campaign has been built on the notion of the outsider and there is nothing more inside D.C. than Politico, so it comes as no surprise that the two have clashed throughout the campaign cycle.
Bottom line is Mr. Trump and the Trump campaign doesn’t suppress any journalists’ First Amendment rights. That being said, these are private events paid for by the campaign (a campaign self-funded by the candidate) and they ultimately reserve the right to restrict attendees, especially ones they feel are abusing the privilege and the power of the press.
Politico reporters routinely defame and disparage Trump.
Frankly, as nasty and hostile to Trump as they are, I’m surprised the Trump campaign lets them in at all. I wouldn’t; but this is testament to the Trump culture of overly generous press access to their candidate.
THE FIELDS FIASCO
Concerning Ms. Fields, I wasn’t there. I don’t have a first hand account of what happened. What I am qualified to speak about is my personal and professional experience with Lewandowski.
I’ve covered numerous events where Mr. Trump was a featured speaker, including four rallies I broadcasted live (Virginia Beach, Richmond, Manassas and Radford), three GOP debates (Cleveland, Simi Valley and Charleston) and several election night watch parties (Des Moines and Manchester). That’s nine Trump related events in total I’ve both covered and broadcasted.
I can tell you that after each one of these events, Mr. Trump and Lewandowski make themselves readily available to the media in the spin room.
Trump press gaggles are typically bursting with hundreds of reporters, newscasters and photographers that run six or seven deep in a ten-foot perimeter. Due to the limited space and the number of people, pushing and shoving is an unintended consequence. As Mr. Trump moves down the line everyone elbows and jockeys for position to get a sound bite or ask a question for their next deadline hit. Its chaotic.
If you are slight of build, you are at immediate risk – not from Trump folks– but from fellow media colleagues.
After the debate in Cleveland (before secret service protection), one photographer leaned in with a boom mic before he slipped and fell on Mr. Trump, knocking the real estate mogul back into his daughter, Tiffany. Luckily, his son Eric grabbed him on the way down to break his fall. Trump got up, brushed himself off and moved on.
After the debate in Charleston, there were so many reporters in the spin section that CNN’s Dana Bash (a super nice lady, BTW) was pushed and jostled out of her coveted spot along the rope line several times by less than gentlemanly competitors vying for prime space.
My point is these press gatherings are very physically demanding events where pushing and shoving is rampant. Some media folks don’t take no for an answer and push forward toward the candidate. It’s not exactly a civil atmosphere.
Is it possible that Ms. Fields got grabbed and pushed out of the way in the gaggle chaos? Certainly. Was this a nefarious attempt to single someone out for retribution of some sort? Highly doubtful.
Some journalists and pundits have gone so far as to blame the unfortunate incident involving Ms. Fields on the prevailing “culture” of the Trump campaign.
What happened to Ms. Fields is not indicative of the culture.
It’s indicative of the environment.
I can only speak from my personal experience with Lewandowski, and that of my staff. I’ve interviewed him more than a dozen times. My staff interacts with Lewandowski frequently. They love the guy.
Without exception I’ve found Corey Lewandowski to be professional, responsive, accessible, and a consummate gentleman to everyone. I hope that going forward the media will focus on the candidates and the issues facing America and not dwell on candidates’ staff members.
As far as Lewandowski, I’ve never met or interacted with a more professional national campaign manager in my media career.
Where’s there’s no smoke…you’re unlikely to find a fire.