Herself a recent target of Donald Trump’s vitriol, last night Fox News host Megyn Kelly brought Ben Shapiro and Michelle Fields on her show The Kelly File to talk about their resignations from Breitbart News. Fields has accused Trump’s campaign manager Corey Lewandowski of assault, and evidence has emerged that backs her story. Shapiro accuses news site management of throwing their own reporter under the proverbial bus for love of Trump’s money.
During the segment, Shapiro makes a passionate but factually-challenged defense of deceased website founder Andrew Breitbart, insisting that his late friend would have rejected Trump’s violence and character-assassination. As I said yesterday, the web media mogul’s actual record argues otherwise. Responding to Shapiro’s appearance on Fox, Charles Johnson of Little Green Footballs concurs with me.
I knew Andrew Breitbart before any of these people, and he would have been right there attacking Michelle Fields with his site’s editors, because what was important to Andrew was power, pure and simple. In my opinion he would have been a huge Donald Trump booster, and anyone who pretends Breitbart would have suddenly discovered his long-lost scruples in Trump’s presence is lying. He had no scruples, and no integrity; Andrew Breitbart was a demagogue totally devoted to gaining power, just like Donald Trump.
Kelly notes that Lewandowski has a reputation for threats and bluster. That history is beginning to emerge now as past and present associates dish on the man’s history as a regional director for the Koch brothers’ organization Americans For Prosperity, as well as his management style in the Trump campaign. Politico reports today that Lewandowski has always been “rough with reporters and sexually suggestive with female journalists,” cursing and browbeating anyone who forgets their appointed place in the pecking order.
Lewandowski boasted about threatening to “blow up” the car of the organization’s chief financial officer over a late expense reimbursement check during the 2012 election cycle, according to multiple sources who are familiar with his claim. (Lewandowski in an email denied this account.)
But some of his most fiery clashes came with a female official who ran one of the states under Lewandowski’s control. The relationship ― and patience for Lewandowski within AFP ― reached a tipping point in October 2013. On the sidelines of a meeting of the group’s board in Manhattan, Lewandowski loudly berated the employee for challenging his authority, getting in her personal space and calling her a “c—” in front of a group of AFP employees, including some senior officials, according to three sources who either witnessed the exchange or dealt with its aftermath.
Lewandowski’s career at AFP faltered after he was assigned to a North Carolina voter registration drive that delivered incorrect forms. That’s not exactly a strong recommendation for him, but in another worrying example of the loose hiring standards we can expect from a potential Trump administration, Lewandowski was able to talk Trump into hiring him.
Fields is apparently not the only reporter to complain that Lewandowski, a former New Hampshire police officer, behaves more like a bodyguard than a campaign manager. He seems to relish controlling access to the candidate and verbally knocking people down; according to Politico, Lewandowski was solely responsible for the last-minute cancellation of Trump’s appearance at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) earlier this month. He reportedly took exception when organizers insisted that the reality show star take questions from the media — just like every other political candidate who attends the conference.
Kelly herself is a perfect example of why Lewandowski would want to protect Trump from the media — especially the ‘friendly’ outlets, as they can potentially do the most damage to a Republican presidential candidate. Unapologetically conservative, Kelly is still the hard-nosed realist who embarrassed Karl Rove on election night 2012 by ushering the cameras out of the studio and into the room where Fox News statisticians were calling the race for Obama. So when she challenged Trump on his long record of misogyny at a Fox News debate last August, she was going where CNN and MSNBC anchors fear to tread.
Indeed, Trump turned to the ‘liberal’ media the next day, saying that Kelly was so angry at him, she had “blood coming out of her eyes, blood coming out of her wherever.” Fox News says that Lewandowski made terroristic threats after the debate, persisting after he was asked to stop. Briefly boycotting Fox over the affair, Trump then used The O’Reilly Factor as a platform to bash the rest of the network. It is therefore difficult to tell where, or even whether, Lewandowski’s attitude towards the media, and especially the right wing media, differs from his boss at all. On the contrary, they seem to be quite in step with one another.
Fields expresses amazement that Breitbart’s Washington political editor Matthew Boyle would be so willing to trade her dignity for better access to the Trump campaign, but Boyle embodies the founder’s legacy of accepting money from billionaires to secure good coverage of favored candidates — a legacy that continues today through Trump’s own payola arrangement at Breitbart.com. Boyle’s articles practically slobber all over Trump like a pre-teen boy-band fanatic — again, a fitting update to the master’s legacy of fawning coverage for extreme, sensational, and divisive figures. Boyle is therefore a much better barometer of where Andrew Breitbart’s heart would be today: Michelle Fields would simply be the new Nadia Naffe, and Ben Shapiro would also be reputational roadkill.
Nor would Andrew have disowned Trump for his violent rallies, his incitement, or his attacks on Fox News. In fact, Andrew would have loved Lewandowski’s pugnacious style; he relished a good social media fight so much that he died right in the middle of one when his shriveled heart gave out. Andrew Breitbart would be front and center defending Trump today, arguing with Fields and Shapiro, blaming the protesters in Chicago to deflect from Trump’s words on stage, and smearing political enemies on both sides of the aisle. The non-sycophants who watched him the longest and closest know that it’s true.