WASHINGTON, April 15, 2016 — Just weeks ago, news headlines across the nation screamed accusations from mainstream media and political pundits alike calling for the ouster and conviction of Cory Lewandiwski, Donald Trump’s campaign manager.
All this outrage was based upon Lewandowski’s alleged March 8 assault on then-Breitbart News reporter Michelle Fields—an allegation that led to misdemeanor charge being lodged against him by authorities in Jupiter, Florida. In what was for some a stunning reversal, Palm Beach County State Attorney David Aronberg announced Thursday that there was not sufficient evidence to pursue the charges against Lewandowski, so the charges have been dropped.
In a press conference announcing the decision, Aronberg explained that the weight of the evidence, was “not strong enough to meet the legal burden of a reasonable likelihood of conviction.” Trump himself had insisted precisely that from the beginning of this over-hyped allegation and made it clear he intended to defend his campaign aide.
Initially, local police had charged Lewandowski last month after Fields accused him of forcefully grabbing her when she made an attempt to speak to Trump. But the dilemma was this: was Trump’s campaign manager intentionally trying to harm Fields as many of her supporters have alleged? Or were his actions attempting to move the candidate out of the area part of the usual defensive hustle and bustle that arises in nearly any campaign event?
In Lewandowski’s defense, the Trump organization did release a video which appeared to show brief contact between the two individuals, but not in the manner that Fields described. That proved a key piece of evidence because the video does not reveal any of the rough treatment Fields had originally alleged.
Once the former Breitbart reported claimed she had been forcefully mistreated by Lewandowski, the usual predetermined narrative and subsequent mythology began to spread through the news cycle like an unchecked political forest fire. Trump, who had viewed the aforementioned video, stood by his man. Even Fox News reporter and commentator Sean Hannity, who had mentioned on his show that he’d viewed the video at least several dozen times, could still not see any evidence that Fields had been assaulted or mishandled.
In her own words, Fields claimed in a Breitbart article of nearly being pulled to the ground, a claim that fed the predetermined media narrative that alleged routine thuggery and violence was being conducted by the Trump campaign, a mythology that the Cruz campaign and the media alike instantly jumped on.
Fields’ Breitbart statement, made before the release of the video that exonerated Lewandowski, claimed that as Trump approached her, she asked him a question about affirmative action. But then, “Before he could answer I was jolted backwards. Someone had grabbed me tightly by the arm and yanked me down. I almost fell to the ground, but was able to maintain my balance. Nonetheless, I was shaken.”
From the moment the words of her alleged mistreatment appeared in the Breitbart article, the legal and media assault against Trump’s aide began. Chief among the media jurors were a group of conservative female journalists who appeared certain that Fields’ allegation that “Someone had grabbed me tightly by the arm and yanked me down. I almost fell to the ground,” was on point.
From the moment that Fields released, the media narrative accusing both Lewandowski and Trump of routine violence took on a life of its own. Even Democrat frontrunner Hillary Clinton chimed in to attack, condemn and convict Lewandowski without any corroborating evidence.
Likewise, the group of 15 conservative women journalists quickly convicted Lewandowski and demanded his ouster, all without a legal finding or ruling from a judge or jury . According to Newsmax, their demands were based upon, “photographs, audio, videos, and witness accounts allegedly documenting that “the treatment of Michelle Fields by Corey Lewandowski, Donald Trump’s campaign manager, [was] inexcusable and unprofessional. Donald Trump should immediately remove Lewandowski from his campaign.”
One has to reasonably assume that Palm Beach County State Attorney David Aronberg examined all of the “photographs, audio, videos, and witness accounts documenting the treatment of Michelle Fields by Corey Lewandowski,” that the female signatories to the letter viewed. He, unlike the journalists who had already convicted the Trump campaign manager without a trial, could not and did not arrive at his decision based upon allegations, but instead had to consider the weight of the evidence.
In the heat of a campaign season, the jostling or rough treatment of any member of the press is nothing new. Was Fields overreaching in her alleged account of what transpired between herself and Lewandowski? Ultimately, no one except the two involved in the alleged incident can be 100 percent certain of what actually occurred.
What is clear is that Trump and his campaign may have dodged another potential campaign bullet. Perhaps the 15 women who decided to convict Lewandowski before trial may wish to consider shelving their PR guns and vow never again to fire accusatory salvos before the weight of the evidence has been weighed by the legal system, not by the highly partisan media.