A reporter for the Huron Daily Tribune in rural Michigan was fired after unwittingly leaving an explicit voicemail message for Republican Senate candidate John James, the Washington Post reported.
Brenda Battel, a staff writer for the newspaper, contacted the James campaign on Monday, seeking a chance to speak with the candidate on Wednesday after the election.
Battel alerted the campaign to a potential follow-up email to further discuss James’ campaign against Democratic Senator Debbie Stabenow and attempted to hang up the phone, though that did not actually happen.
“Man, if he beats her…Jesus! F***ing John James. That would suck!” Battel can be heard saying at the end of the recording, which the James campaign released on their YouTube account. “I don’t think it’s going to happen though,” she added.
The incident led to Battel’s firing later on Monday after less than three years as a staff member, Editor Kate Hessling said to the Washington Post, noting that accountability was the primary decision for her decision, especially amid the public’s decreasing trust in the media and attacks from President Trump.
“It’s imperative that our reporters act professional and neutral when dealing with the public, and that was not done in this situation,” Hessling said. “And that was inexcusable.”
The editor also confirmed that the voice-mail posted to by the James campaign was authentic.
In a statement posted to the newspaper’s website, Hessling apologized to James and the public for Battel’s behavior.
“These statements do not represent the views of the Tribune as a whole, nor do they reflect the actions of a responsible journalist,” she said.
The Washington Post reported that the James campaign capitalized on the incident in an attempt to draw a “wide correlation” between the Daily Tribune and other forms of media.
“It shows you that some media will do anything to keep the status quo and career politicians in power,” campaign manager Tori Sachs said to the Daily Caller, who first reported the story.
“The liberal media can’t stand the idea of a job creator and combat veteran coming to Washington to shake up the system. This happened as we closed in within the margin of error.”
Thank you President @realDonaldTrump for supporting our mission to protect the American Dream.???????? For 43 years @Stabenow has failed Michigan & on Nov. 6th we have the opportunity to VOTE for a Combat Veteran & Job Creator!????>https://t.co/w4h9ewvOtn< #LetsFlyMI #MISen pic.twitter.com/UP7mvBNEkE
— John James (@JohnJamesMI) November 5, 2018
According to the Washington Post, Fox News Channel anchor Tucker Carlson asked the Republican candidate about the incident on Tuesday evening.
“I think this is the indication that you’re getting, the uphill battle that many of us are facing because of a lot of the bias we’re seeing out there,” James answered.
“It’s just not fair for those who share different opinions than some in the progressive liberal media.”