Michigan paper fires reporter for bias against GOP Senate candidate John James

Michigan paper fires reporter for bias against GOP Senate candidate John James
© Facebook: John James

A Michigan paper fired one of its reporters Monday after members of newsroom management heard a disparaging voicemail left by the staffer to GOP Senate candidate John James.

The Huron Daily Tribune reported Monday evening that Brenda Battel, who was a staff writer, called James's campaign to request an interview. The paper wrote that Battel then unsuccessfully attempted to disconnect the phone, leaving a voicemail in which she said "inappropriate comments."

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"I have listened to the voicemail left by Brenda Battel to Mr. James' campaign, and find no reason to defend this behavior," said Kate Hessling, editor of the Huron Daily Tribune. "Brenda Battel's employment has been immediately terminated.

"The Huron Daily Tribune sincerely apologizes to Mr. James and to the public. These statements do not represent the views of the Tribune as a whole, nor do they reflect the actions of a responsible journalist," she added.

In a recording of the voicemail shared by conservative outlet, The Daily Caller, which first reported the story, Battel can be heard attempting to disconnect the phone. 

"Man, if he beats her...Jesus!" she can be heard saying. "F***ing John James...that would suck."

"I don't think it's going to happen, though," she adds. It's unclear whether she was talking to herself or other people.

James's campaign shared the voicemail, which later went viral and was declared authentic by Hessling, according to The Washington Post.

Battel could not be reached for comment by the Post.

James's campaign manager told the Post that the incident was indicative of wider bias among news organizations.

“It shows you that some media will do anything to keep the status quo and career politicians in power,” James's campaign manager Tori Sachs said.

James is running against incumbent Democratic Sen. Debbie StabenowDeborah (Debbie) Ann StabenowRepublicans to hand out 'baseball cards' mocking Gary Peters in Michigan Senate Democrats accuse administration of burying climate change reports Democrats seize Senate floor to protest gun inaction: 'Put up or shut up' MORE, who leads her Republican challenger by about 8 percentage points, according to a RealClearPolitics average of polls.