Members of the Trump campaign, media, and GOP reacted to Beto O’Rourke (D) ejecting a Breitbart News reporter from his speech at Benedict College in Columbia, South Carolina, Tuesday, calling O’Rourke a “fraud” and adding that his action is an “attack on a free press.”
O’Rourke, who has lauded himself as a champion of a free press, had Breitbart News’s Senior Editor-at-Large Joel Pollak removed from his event at Benedict College Tuesday, with a member of his campaign claiming that Pollak had been “disruptive” at past events – an assertion that is patently false.
As Breitbart News reported:
This reporter has covered two O’Rourke events. The first was at a protest outside a shelter for migrant teens in Homestead, Florida, in June; the second was at the College of Charleston “Bully Pulpit” lecture in Charleston, South Carolina, on Monday evening. At no point was there any disruption whatsoever.
This reporter asked a question during a press gaggle on Monday evening; that was the only interaction of any kind with the candidate.
The question asked the Democratic presidential hopeful whether misquoting Trump’s comments on riots in Charlottesville, Virginia, in 2017 was consistent with O’Rourke’s pledge to “heal” and not “inflame” divisions in this country.
In the hallway at Benedict, “Steven” threatened this reporter, saying that I could either leave voluntarily or be “officially uninvited” from campus, suggesting arrest.
This reporter complied with the police officer, who said that he was just doing his job.
Prominent members of the Trump campaign, media, and GOP took to Twitter to condemn O’Rourke’s enigmatic decision.
“Unless… they don’t actually care about freedom of the press & only care about their own power. Only time will tell!”:
Unless… they don't actually care about freedom of the press & only care about their own power. Only time will tell! https://t.co/c3wGHKQUES
— Donald Trump Jr. (@DonaldJTrumpJr) August 27, 2019
“Rob O’Rourke’s campaign has a journalist escorted out of an event by campus police,” GOP spokesperson Elizabeth Harrington wrote in part. “Will the rest of the media be outraged by this “attack on the free press?”:
Rob O'Rourke's campaign has a journalist escorted out of an event by campus police
Will the rest of the media be outraged by this "attack on the free press"?
Democrats aren't interested in debate. They can't handle tough questions, so they silence themhttps://t.co/77By82Cc6D
— Elizabeth Harrington (@LizRNC) August 27, 2019
“What a fraud this furry is,” Matt Wolking, Deputy Director of Communications for Trump’s 2020 team, responded:
What a fraud this furry is.
Beto O'Rourke Ejects Reporter from Event https://t.co/aqjHxeyKsb
— Matt Wolking (@MattWolking) August 27, 2019
— Christopher Cadelago (@ccadelago) August 27, 2019
No justification for @BetoORourke booting @BreitbartNews' @joelpollak out of his campaign event today. Outrageous and an actual example of someone stifling freedom of the press and the 1st amendment. https://t.co/LEcSbmphvG
— Andrew Surabian (@Surabees) August 27, 2019
What was Beto's Campaign's justification?
That Pollack had allegedly been "disruptive" at past events.
A blatant lie ⤵️https://t.co/RnWUu6OMYN
— Students For Trump (@TrumpStudents) August 27, 2019
If this account is accurate, it's a pretty weak move by Team Beto. https://t.co/zdjtvLcLvN
— Noah Shachtman (@NoahShachtman) August 27, 2019
— Jonathan Swan (@jonathanvswan) August 27, 2019
— Brent Scher (@BrentScher) August 27, 2019
O’Rourke once said freedom of the press is the “best defense against tyranny,” adding, “We need to vigorously defend the freedom of the press. It’s essential for our democracy.”
It remains unclear how O’Rourke reconciles those words with his recent actions.