LOS ANGELES (CBS/AP) — The Breitbart News reporter allegedly roughed up last week at a Donald Trump press conference has resigned from the conservative website, saying that she can’t work for an organization that doesn’t support her, and three other news employees followed her out the door.
Michelle Fields, who said that she was grabbed by Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski as she attempted to question the candidate last Tuesday in Florida, was joined in her resignation by Breitbart editors Ben Shapiro and Jarrett Stepman, along with national security correspondent Jordan Schachtel.
Police in Jupiter, Florida, said Monday their investigation of the incident is ongoing. No charges have been filed.
Lewandowski has denied the allegation. Trump told CNN that the incident, also witnessed by a reporter from The Washington Post, was probably “made up.”
After initially publishing Fields’ account, Breitbart posted a story doubting its own reporter, saying the “likeliest explanation” is that Fields was grabbed by a security officer, not Lewandowski.
Shapiro, in a lengthy statement first reported by BuzzFeed News, said Breitbart did nothing to support Fields outside of tepidly asking for an apology. “In the ultimate indignity, they undermined Michelle completely by running a poorly-evidenced conspiracy theory as their lead story,” Shapiro wrote.
Shapiro called Breitbart’s chief executive, Stephen Bannon, a bully who has shaped the company into “Trump’s personal Pravda.”
Bannon did not return an email message asking for comment Monday.
Later on Monday, Schachtel announced his resignation via Twitter and in a dual statement with Stepman provided to Politico. Both men said that Breitbart News had effectively given up its journalistic independence to become an arm of the Trump campaign.
On the Breitbart News site Monday afternoon, the lead story was about Sarah Palin cancelling an appearance with the Trump campaign because her husband Todd had been a snowmobile accident in Alaska.
Breitbart’s chief public relations representative, Kurt Bardella, dropped the company as a client on Friday.
Breitbart was launched in 2007 by the late Andrew Breitbart. It was a Breitbart reporter who sparked the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN) video scandal, posing as an abused prostitute fleeing her pimp. Several ACORN employees were workers were fired as a result and the non-profit lost its federal funding. Later, an investigation revealed the recordings had been edited and many of the conversations were out of context.
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