Infighting erupts at conservative news site after Donald Trump aide is accused of manhandling reporter

Screen Shot 2016 03 14 at 9.02.58 AMBreitbart.comThe removed article.

Political reporters were captivated Monday by a Breitbart News article that criticised two journalists who had just publicly quit the right-leaning news organisation.

Breitbart’s Monday article quoted the site’s editors savaging Ben Shapiro, who was an editor-at-large at Breitbart before abruptly resigning Sunday night.

The article, which has since been removed, accused Shapiro of “betraying” the site’s readers.

It also said in part:

Breitbart California editor Joel B. Pollak, Shapiro’s friend and fellow Orthodox Jew, expressed concern for his former colleague.

“I’m worried. I had enjoyed listening to Ben read Breitbart California stories, word for word, without attribution, on his morning radio show. Now what will he do for content?”

Breitbart News senior management issued a short statement: “Ben’s listicles will be missed.”

The mood was somber at Breitbart News’ Los Angeles office, where one staffer stared silently at promotional copies of Shapiro’s books, left behind on the shelves when the author stopped showing up for work, several years ago.

BuzzFeed reported early Monday morning that Shapiro and Breitbart reporter Michelle Fields had informed the site of their immediate resignations. Their complaint centered on how Breitbart reacted to Donald Trump’s campaign manager, Corey Lewandowski, allegedly manhandling Fields at a one of Trump’s events last week.

Breitbart, which tends to openly back the Republican frontrunner, responded by publishing what Shapiro’s resignation statement labelled “a poorly-evidenced conspiracy theory.” That Breitbart story strongly questioned an eyewitness account from a Washington Post reporter describing Lewandowski forcibly pulling Fields away from Trump last Tuesday.

Both Trump and Lewandowski have accused Fields, who posted photos of her bruises, of fabricating the incident.

Meanwhile, Breitbart’s former spokesman also cut ties with the right-leaning news site on Friday, citing Breitbart’s reaction to the allegation against Lewandowski. The ex-spokesman, Kurt Bardella, said on CNN that he could no longer stand by Breitbart.

CNN’s Don Lemon directly asked Bardella if he was saying Breitbart’s brass was lying in order to protect Trump’s campaign.

“Yes, I am,” Bardella replied, surprising Lemon with his bluntness.

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