Fox Spins Trump Into The Victim Of His Campaign Manager's Battery Charge

After police arrested Corey Lewandowski, Donald Trump's campaign manager, and charged him with simple battery of former Breitbart reporter Michelle Fields, Fox News attempted to paint Trump as the real victim in the incident. Fox hosts and guests dismissed the matter as a “tragedy for the Trump campaign,” claimed the campaign had entered into the “theater ... of the absurd,” and noted that Trump's “got to be ticked off” at having to discuss the battery charge instead of substantive issues.

Trump's Campaign Manager Arrested For Simple Battery Of Former Breitbart Reporter

CNN: “Trump Campaign Manager Charged With Simple Battery.” A March 30 CNN.com article reported that “Donald Trump's campaign manager Corey Lewandowski was arrested and charged in Jupiter, Florida, with simple battery of former Breitbart reporter Michelle Fields, according to police.” The article noted that Lewandowski is “known for his brash style and for being fiercely loyal to Trump” and that Trump “suggested he would not part ways with his campaign manager.” It also said that Trump had “suggested” on Twitter that “Fields physically touched him following the March 8 press conference” and that he “raised questions about the bruises” that Fields endured from the incident. CNN noted that Trump had previously said he thought Fields “made the story up.” [CNN.com, 3/30/16]

Fox News Hosts And Guests Sympathize With Trump's Reaction To Lewandowski Arrest

Ainsley Earhardt: “If You Look At The Definition Of Battery ... It Says Grabbing Somebody Against Their Will ... Well, She's Doing That To Him.” On the March 30 edition of Fox News' Fox & Friends, hosts Steve Doocy and Ainsley Earhardt downplayed Lewandowski's arrest, claiming that he was just protecting Trump. Earhardt said: “If you look at the definition of battery ... it says grabbing somebody against their will ... Well, she's doing that to [Trump] and then [his] campaign manager pulls her back.” Steve Doocy claimed that “this is the story that has eaten up all the oxygen in the last 24 years” and that Lewandowski simply “brush[ed] [Fields] aside” :

STEVE DOOCY (CO-HOST): All right, meanwhile, if you're watching politics, this is the story that has eaten up all the oxygen for the last 24 hours. Corey Lewandowski, who is ... Donald Trump's campaign manager, as he was leaving his victory party down in Jupiter, Florida, two weeks ago, Michelle Fields, who's in white right there, grabs Donald Trump's hand[[s]]a couple of times and there Corey Lewandowski brushes her aside. Grabs her and, I don't know exactly what he does, but he puts her to the side. She filed charges against him yesterday. The Jupiter police charged him with simple battery. Donald Trump was on our program just about a half an hour ago. We asked him why did he release this video from his ballroom? And here's what he said.

[...]

AINSLEY EARHARDT (CO-HOST): He brings up a good point, though, because if you look at the definition of battery as we were talking at the beginning of the show, it says grabbing someone against their will --

DOOCY: Simply touching --

EARHARDT: Touching someone. Well, she's doing that to [Trump] and then [his] campaign manager pulls her back. Now granted, he pulls her forcefully back and then she has the bruises to prove it. [Fox News, Fox & Friends, 3/30/16]

Brian Kilmeade: Trump's “Got To Be Ticked Off ... He's Saying, Bring On The Issues. ... Instead He's Got To Talk About What Happened Two Weeks Ago.” During the March 30 edition of Fox News' Fox & Friends, host Brian Kilmeade sympathized with Donald Trump, claiming that “on some level, he's got to be ticked off. He sits down for 90 minutes with The New York Times” and he's “saying, bring on the issues ... Instead, he's got to talk about what happened two weeks ago” :

BRIAN KILMEADE (CO-HOST): I mean, that's good that Donald Trump comes out and defends his guy. But on some level, he's got to be ticked off. He sits down for 90 minutes with The New York Times, about an hour with The Washington Post to talk about foreign policy on the heels of President Obama doing the same with The Atlantic magazine. He's saying, bring on the issues, be critical, be supportive. Instead, he's got to talk about what happened two weeks ago. And as David Plouffe, of all people, who's been making a lot of sense this election cycle, he tweets out, “A presidential campaign manager's job is to manage the circus, not become one.” One thing he says publicly, defend him. But behind the scenes, he's got to be saying, Corey, I got Secret Service, I got my own special security, keep your hands off people. I don't need you there. A week later, he's doing something similar. Justified or not, as a campaign manager, keep your hands off people. I need to become president of the United States. This does not help me. [Fox News, Fox & Friends, 3/30/16]

Newt Gingrich: Lewandowski's Battery Charge Seems Like “Very Partisan Politics.” During the March 29 edition of Fox News' The Kelly File, Fox contributor Newt Gingrich dismissed Lewandowski's arrest as indicative of “a very long history of very partisan politics” among officials in Jupiter, FL:

NEWT GINGRICH: If you watch [Trump], he always counterpunches. I actually draw a distinction in the Lewandowski case because he was going to be asked about it. And Trump's basic model is to stay on offense.

MEGYN KELLY (HOST): Why couldn't he just say, “This is my guy. A criminal process is going to play out. A jury will have its say. I'm not firing anybody until that happens and then we'll reassess.” Or he can say, “What I saw on the tape didn't rise to me to be a fireable offense.” That's understandable. But the demolition campaign against her reputation is a different matter.

GINGRICH: But notice the language you just used. Suddenly it goes from a misdemeanor to a criminal violation --

KELLY: It is a criminal -- he's been charged with a criminal violation.

GINGRICH: So now we have is Lewandowski a criminal?

KELLY: Those are your words. I mean, that's what the police are saying. That he's been charged with a criminal misdemeanor.

GINGRICH: That's right, criminal misdemeanor, by a Democrat local official in a county with a very long history of very partisan politics.

KELLY: But you saw the tape and you heard the Washington Post reporter independent account of what happened. No one's saying this is a major beating. It's a simple battery, that's it.

GINGRICH: Simple battery, which has now been translated into-- but a criminal offense. And you have never been in a scrum in a presidential campaign where people were shoved around, including by the way the press. Including by the press.

KELLY: Of course I have, many times. She didn't want to file a federal case over it, Mr. Speaker. She wanted an apology. And then they attacked her and said she was delusional and suggested she made the whole thing up and tried to question prior reporting and demanding to know why she wouldn't file a police report and only talked about it online. So what'd she do the next day? She went and filed the police report. That's how we got to this place. [Fox News, The Kelly File, 3/29/16]

Sean Hannity On Lewandowski Arrest: “This Is Theater Now Of The Absurd.” On the March 29 edition of Premiere Radio Network's The Sean Hannity Show, host Sean Hannity, who also has a show on Fox, downplayed battery charges against Lewandowski, claiming, “I have watched this tape over and over and over again ... and I just don't see it.” Hannity said that the incident takes the campaign into the “theater ... of the absurd” and that “the focus and the narrative isn't where it should be” :

SEAN HANNITY (HOST): I mean, I don't know whether to laugh or cry sometimes. Things in campaigns just at times go off the rails and that's kind of where we are today.

[...]

I'm talking about this tape, which is all over cable television today. Which I'm frankly -- I'm looking at the tape. I know both participants in this. I know Michelle Fields, I've known her for years. You know what we share the distinction in, Linda? We share the distinction in being sued by Lindsay and Dina Lohan together. I think the latest is it was thrown out of court on summary charges. I don't know what happened. I never paid attention to it. I just thought it was pretty hilarious. Michelle has been a frequent guest on Hannity over the years. We'll have her back. I mean, I've always gotten along with her. And Corey Lewandowski, who is Trump's campaign manager. And this all started at an event where Michelle was trying to ask a question, and then she claimed that Corey grabbed her and she had a mark on her arm, and she almost fell to the ground, and now today they actually released the tape of this whole thing. Again, just stay with me here. I'm only going -- this is theater now of the absurd. This is where campaigns, at times, and the focus and the narrative isn't where it should be.

I agree, it should be on the economy, it should be on balanced budgets, it should be on the penny plan, it should be on eliminating Obamacare and replacing it with health-care savings accounts. It ought to be energy independence, it ought to be about building the wall, it ought to be about education, eliminating Common Core, all of these things that we really care about. But it is what it is. And it is, you know, now Lewandowski is charged with simple battery. Now, I have watched this tape over and over and over again, as somebody that knows both people involved in this. And I have heard what both people have had to say about this. Now, the first problem you have is with the tape, it's a surveillance tape. I don't know why they don't have a continuous file on this. I think that's a little bit nuts. But it's sort of like broken up, like you see a chop here, then two seconds later you see another chop, and then then two seconds later you see another chop. Am I describing this accurately? The chop? Okay. And I don't know why. It's simple to have, I have home security that has24-hour, non-stop, real-time taping. I don't get it. You can buy this from Simply Safe at little to no cost, which is a great idea if you want to --I can monitor every single grass on my property, 24/7 if I want to. I just can. If I wanted to see how's this blade doing today? How's this tree on my property doing today? One of my kids, they're fighting. I can see it. I'm watching it. And I've actually done this by the way. They have conflicting stories about what happened? I said let's go to the video tape like Warner Wolfe used to say, a New York sportscaster. So, on a serious note, because these are serious charges, and the charges are now simple battery. And the police looked at the tape and they made a determination that Corey Lewandowski actually grabbed Michelle Fields. Now, as I look at the tape and I'm trying to just, this not about politics in any way. There has been so much talk about this. I have friends of mine, Alicia, who used to work on this program is so passionate--I saw her Twitter feed -- that something horrible happened here. And I just don't see it. [Premiere Radio Networks, The Sean Hannity Show, 3/29/16]

Sean Hannity: “To Me It Looked Like The Typical Gaggle Of Reporters ... I Don't See Any Jerking. I Don't See Any Pulling.” On the March 29 edition of Fox News' Hannity, host Sean Hannity interviewed Trump about the incident and arrest, claiming: “I looked at [the video] a hundred times. ... To me, it looked like the typical gaggle of reporters. ... I don't see any pulling.” Hannity further dismissed the allegations, allowing Trump to accuse Fields of starting it. Trump claimed that “she grabbed me, before [Lewandowski] grabbed her if he even grabbed her” :

SEAN HANNITY (HOST): I looked at [the video] a hundred times. And as I said, I know both people. To me, it looked like the typical gaggle of reporters, you know, where the campaign is trying to get the candidate away because they've answered enough questions and everybody's moving on and she is trying to get in that last question. That's how I see it. I don't see any jerking. I don't see any pulling. I see him saying --

DONALD TRUMP: Well, first of all, Sean, let me just interrupt you just for a second. She grabbed me, before he grabbed her--if he even grabbed her, because I don't see that he grabbed her --

HANNITY: She is right next to you --

TRUMP: I see that he sort of blocked her out. But she grabbed me and she wasn't supposed to. She grabbed me once or twice and that's why I'm looking down at my arm. Like this. Looking down and it's very obvious. So she grabbed me before he did anything. She went through a Secret Service line because you have Secret Service people. This was after a victory. The press conference lasted for like 45 minutes, it was a long press conference. There were no more questions. I was walking out. I was almost at the entrance when this happened, because that was the entrance camera. I was almost at the entrance in the lobby walking out briskly and she all of a sudden jumps in. So she grabbed me and she had something in her hand. I don't know what it was. It looked like it could have been a pen, but you know from the standpoint of where we are, who knows what it is? So she grabbed me and then he maybe brushed her aside. And we're going to destroy his life for that? I don't think so. [Fox News, Hannity, 3/29/16]

Tucker Carlson: “The Tragedy Is For The Trump Campaign.” During the March 29 edition of Fox News' Special Report with Bret Baier, Fox contributor Tucker Carlson claimed that “the fact that we're talking about this is a problem” for the Trump campaign and that the incident is a “tragedy for the Trump campaign” :

TUCKER CARLSON: The fact that we're talking about this is a problem, I think for everybody. I mean his opponents are acting like Lewandowski is O.J. -- are engaging in moral grandstanding that I don't think is very attractive or helpful to them either, but the tragedy is for the Trump campaign. I mean, this is just another example of the truth about it, which is [[where]]he is succeeding in spite of his campaign, which is easily distracted and badly run -- any shiny object pulls its attention away. The only reason Trump is where he is, is because his message is resonant. [Fox News, Special Report with Bret Baier, 3/29/16]