Since former Breitbart News reporter Michelle Fields filed a police report Friday alleging that Donald Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski assaulted her after a press conference, the GOP front-runner has done more than a dozen TV interviews amounting to over two and a half hours of airtime.
And in all that time, Fields’ charge hasn’t come up once.
Neither have more recent allegations against Lewandowski. Politico reported Tuesday that the top Trump aide has treated reporters roughly and made “sexually suggestive and at times vulgar comments" to and about female journalists covering the campaign. Lewandowski denied the claims.
As Lewandowski’s behavior has gone unquestioned in Trump's recent interviews on ABC, CBS, NBC, FOX, Fox News, MSNBC and CNN, the business mogul has only helped thrust his campaign manager further into the national spotlight.
Trump notably brought Lewandowski up on stage during his Tuesday night victory speech in Florida, praising him while he berated the reporters in attendance as “disgusting” and “horrible people.” Lewandowski enjoyed the media-bashing while Trump refused to take reporters’ questions, even though the gathering was purportedly a “press conference.” One of the Politico reporters behind Tuesday's story was barred from the event, the latest in a pattern of retribution against news outlets that are critical of Trump.
Television journalists have subjected Trump to tough questions over the past week about encouraging violence at his events, with Friday night’s cable news takeover understandably focused on the candidate's decision to cancel a Chicago rally. Some have also pressed Trump on the $40 million fraud lawsuit involving Trump University, his employment of foreign workers, his lack of a foreign policy team, and his past misogynistic remarks, resurrected in a new ad from an anti-Trump super PAC. They've also, of course, asked about Trump's recent victories and the state of the primary race.
Still, the lack of questions about the police report Fields filed against Lewandowski has been maddening to Trump's critics, who see it as a serious issue that's going completely unaddressed. Several journalists have pointed out when TV interviewers fail to bring it up, despite the incident's relevance to other questions about violence at Trump's campaign events and his treatment of women.
While interviewers haven't pressed Trump on the Lewandowski incident since Friday, other presidential candidates are discussing it. After Trump’s appearance on CNN’s “State of the Union” on Sunday, Democratic hopeful Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) said that “Trump's own campaign manager is now up on charges for assaulting a female reporter, bruising her.”
Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fl.), who has since suspended his campaign, also brought it up on ABC’s “This Week" on Sunday and again the next day.
“If my campaign manager had done that, my campaign would be over,” Rubio said on Monday. “He would have had to resign."
Campaigns often move swiftly when top aides are embroiled in controversy, given their expectation that candidates will face questions from the media. Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) fired his communications director last month after he posted a video on Facebook that falsely questioned Rubio’s faith. “We are not a campaign that is going to question the faith of another candidate," Cruz told reporters.
Trump has weathered numerous media controversies that would have likely sunk another candidate. And in this case, he has quite literally stood by Lewandowski as his campaign denies the assault allegation.
On March 10, the Trump campaign dismissed Fields' claim that Lewandowski had grabbed and bruised her arm after Trump's press conference in Jupiter, Florida two days earlier -- an incident witnessed by a Washington Post reporter. “You are totally delusional,” Lewandowski tweeted that afternoon at Fields. “I never touched you.”
Trump suggested after the March 10 debate that Fields had fabricated her story.
But new video emerged on March 11 that shows Lewandowski reaching toward Fields. Though Trump supporters have questioned the severity of the incident, the video appears to support Fields’ claim. Jupiter police are investigating the matter.
The Lewandowski allegations have received attention on cable news when Trump isn't on air, however.
Fox News host Megyn Kelly has twice interviewed Fields since she filed the police report, and a Trump spokesperson rebutted the allegations again on Monday night.
Several cable news guests, meanwhile, noted it was significant that Trump told Lewandowski “good job” while on stage with him Tuesday night. CNN contributor Amanda Carpenter said Lewandowski “has been under intense media fire for his horrible treatment of the press, to anyone that comes into contact with him.”
“That was a signal,” Carpenter said. “He is telling everyone, ‘I am not changing my campaign’s behavior. You can go with me or go against me, but I’m not changing.’”
At Fox News, The Weekly Standard's Stephen Hayes said, “Lewandowski being in the picture, given the events of the past week, was troubling and will cause people to raise additional questions.”