In case you missed it, Corey Lewandowski, campaign manager for Donald Trump, was arrested for battery this morning in Jupiter, Florida because he grabbed a female reporter by the arm at a Trump victory rally last week and pulled her roughly out of the way. I would say "allegedly" grabbed her by the arm, but the police, several witnesses, and on-site video all confirm that he did it. So do the photos of the resulting bruises on her arm.
Nevertheless, a spokesperson for the Trump campaign, Lewandowski, and Donald Trump himself have all continued to vehemently deny that the incident ever happened--and they've called out the reporter on social media and in the press, with insults and insinuations that she somehow has it in for Trump.
For the Donald Trump campaign--which seems to be running on the Angry White Male platform--shoving reporter Michelle Fields aside probably seemed like a normal thing to do. But with Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders already champing at the bit to paint Trump as a misogynist in the general election, you have to think that the resulting flood of media about how the campaign roughs up women would be unwanted.
Like it or not, here's how the Trump campaign transformed what could have been a minor incident into a full-court press event:
1. Turn your friends into your enemies.
Michelle Fields worked for Breitbart News Network which, at least up till now, has been so supportive of Trump that a former reporter who (like Fields) left after this incident called it "Trump's personal Pravda." But now, not so much. Right now, for instance, the top story on the site is Ted Cruz's comment that the whole event is a "consequence" of the Trump campaign's "abusive culture."
2. Pick on someone young, female, and pretty.
Michelle Fields is 28 and gorgeous. Not that shoving an older, uglier, or male reporter around would be OK. But, seriously, if you have to assault someone, choosing someone who seems to be made for media is probably the wrong move.
3. Tell a lie that can easily be disproved.
From the beginning, the Trump campaign (and Trump himself) have been fierce in defending Lewandowski. So fierce that rather than checking the facts, they simply make some up. Trump spokesperson Hope Hicks sent out a statement to the press saying that not only had she and other campaign staffers been present and seen no such incident, but, "not a single camera or reporter of more than 100 in attendance captured the alleged incident."
The Washington Post's Ben Terris did indeed see the incident and described it in detail. And the video released by the Jupiter, Florida police department is only one of several that captured it as well.
4. And then pile on some more.
Having gotten good at denying reality, the Trump campaign kept piling on lies that were easily proved untrue. "You are totally delusional. I never touched you," Lewandowski tweeted to Fields.
Since the video shows that yes, he did, Trump and his staff have attempted to spin people's perceptions. Trump tweeted to look at the video because there was "nothing there."
5. Be as insulting as you can.
Not satisfied with denying an incident captured on video, Trump and his team have laid into Michelle Fields with accusations of their own. Trump tweeted that he should press charges of his own, claiming she grabbed him--although the video simply shows them chatting and then him walking away. And, suggesting that Fields likes making news rather than reporting it and once accused a police officer of beating her with a baton, Hicks wrote: "we leave it to others whether this is part of a larger pattern of exaggerations."
6. Whatever you do, don't apologize.
A simple apology, which Breitbart requested, might have made this all go away, and we'd be back to talking about banning Muslims, or whatever else the Trump campaign wants to be focusing on.
7. Hire a lawyer who's even more aggressive than you are.
The Trump campaign has hired Kendall Coffey to represent Lewandowski. Coffey was formerly U.S. attorney in Miami, but resigned from the Justice Department one day after an incident at a strip club where he bit a stripper hard enough to break her skin.allegedly
This should be a fun trial to watch.