Michelle Fields, Donald Trump, and the slow death of actual journalism | Bleader

Michelle Fields, Donald Trump, and the slow death of actual journalism

by

Sign up for our newsletters Subscribe

2 comments
CCTV video footage released by Florida police shows Breitbart's Michelle Fields, center left, and her encounter with Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski. - JUPITER POLICE DEPARTMENT
  • Jupiter Police Department
  • CCTV video footage released by Florida police shows Breitbart's Michelle Fields, center left, and her encounter with Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski.

Michelle Fields has tweeted her thanks to women in media who have her back. They signed a letter asking the Trump campaign to fire campaign manager Corey Lewandowski, accused by Fields of jostling her with a disputed degree of severity when she approached Trump after a news conference in Florida March 8 to ask a question.

"I almost fell to the ground, but was able to maintain my balance. Nonetheless, I was shaken," asserted Fields a couple of days later. Lewandowski said he didn't lay a hand on her, an assertion contradicted by a video that eventually turned up that showed Fields being yanked, though she didn't look close to going down.

My own view of the incident is colored by the fact I'm in the midst of judging the annual Anne Keegan Award, which is for "distinguished journalism reflecting the dignity and spirit of the common man." When the journalism is anything but distinguished and dignity is nowhere to be seen, I notice. 

Had what happened to Fields happened to the late Keegan, a Tribune columnist and a friend, I believe I know how she'd have handled it. She'd have put her nose in Lewandowski's face, called him an asshole, and that would have been that. Actual journalists try hard not to make themselves the story.

Actual journalism has a hard time these days finding a foothold in the media. The list of signatories to the letter asking for the head of Corey Lewandowski runs heavily to conservative partisans who didn't like Trump in the first place. For instance, there's "conservatarian" Dana Loesch of Blaze TV (home of Glenn Beck), who's the author of Hands Off My Gun and thinks Trump's squishy on the Second Amendment; blogger Emily Zanotti of the staid American Spectator and R Street Institute; syndicated columnist Mona Charen, who had a piece in the National Review a while back called "Donald Trump Doesn't Have the Character to Be President"; and America Now radio's Meghan McCain, who's the daughter of Senator John McCain, whom Trump famously called a putz for getting himself captured in Vietnam.

"The photographs, audio, videos, and witness accounts documenting the treatment of Michelle Fields by Corey Lewandowski . . . are inexcusable and unprofessional," said the letter, not exactly saying what it meant to say.

"So thankful for their support," tweeted Fields.

But how much genuine solidarity is on display here, and how much of this is ax-grinding by partisans who think Trump is the ruination of genuine conservatism and must be stopped by any means possible? I ask because so much media has become surrealistically untrustworthy.

On March 11 Fields was interviewed by Megyn Kelly on Fox News. Of course, Kelly has her own issues with Trump, which might explain why she was so sympathetic to hers. "Michelle Fields, reporter, Breitbart News Network," said the TV screen beneath Fields's face, and if you didn't know better you might suppose Breitbart was some sort of far-flung, serious news operation and Fields was, well, a reporter unfettered by fear or favor.

Fields made no attempt to pretend she, or it, was anything of the sort. Kelly showed a clip of Trump saying he doubted the incident even happened, and then asked what Fields thought about that.

"Well Megyn," she replied, "to be honest, if you were to ask me in private a week ago who do you support I would say that Donald Trump was my second choice for president. And you know Donald Trump always talks about my people, that he loves his people. His people love him. Well, wouldn't I be considered his people? What he's doing is throwing me under the bus."

FIelds eventually resigned from Breitbart because it didn't stick up for her. No quarter had shown her the loyalty she believed was her due as—well, I'm not sure as what, but never has the distinction that must be made between media and journalism looked more clear.

"They have basically done a character assassination on me," Fields told Kelly with a quivering voice. "They're linking it to blogs with conspiracies about me. And they're not telling the truth! There's videos! There's pictures! There's an eyewitness of a Washington Post reporter who is very credible. And they seem to not understand that."

The Post reporter was Ben Terris, and it was a powerful moment when Fields cited him. With accusations flying this way and that, there was actually on the scene—somebody who can be believed, Fields was saying. 

And if you're a fan of old-fashioned journalism, that acknowledgement is something.


Comments (2)

Showing 1-2 of 2

Add a comment
 

Add a comment