The campaign of Democratic presidential candidate Beto O’Rourke removed a reporter from Breitbart News at an event held at a South Carolina college on Aug. 27, saying that he was being asked to leave because he was “disruptive” in the past—something the news outlet denies.
Breitbart News reported that their Senior Editor-at-Large Joel Pollak, who has previously covered two O’Rourke events, was asked to leave at an event at Benedict College, where O’Rourke was expected to deliver a speech.
Pollak, who penned the story, said that several minutes after the event was scheduled to begin he was approached by a member of O’Rourke’s campaign who asked him what outlet he represented. He left after reading Pollak’s press credentials.
Minutes later a campus police officer approached Pollak and asked him to follow him to the back of the room before he was asked to leave. In the hallway, another member of O’Rourke campaign, who Pollak said was named “Steven,” told him that he was being asked to leave because Pollak had been “disruptive” at past events.
Pollak said he had been at two of O’Rourke’s past events—a protest in Florida and another lecture at a college in South Carolina the day before.
“At no point was there any disruption whatsoever,” Pollak wrote.
He said that at the South Carolina lecture on Aug. 26, he asked O’Rourke a question during the press gaggle about whether the presidential candidate thought his previous remarks targeting President Donald Trump were in line with his rhetoric regarding stopping division and healing the country.
After being “threatened” by the campaign staff member, Pollak said he then complied with him and the police officer.
Following the report of the incident published on Aug. 27, many prominent figures including members of the Trump 2020 campaign weighed in on O’Rourke’s alleged stifling of the free press.
“I look forward to @CNN & @nytimes sticking up for @joelpollak & @BreitbartNews & publicly decrying this attack on a free press from Beta. Unless… they don’t actually care about freedom of the press & only care about their own power. Only time will tell!” Donald Trump Jr. wrote.
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. 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 them,” RNC spokesperson Elizabeth Harrington wrote.
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
“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,” GOP Communications and Political Strategist Andrew Surabian wrote.
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 a fraud this furry is,” Matt Wolking, deputy director of communications for Trump’s 2020 team, wrote.
What a fraud this furry is.
Beto O’Rourke Ejects Reporter from Event https://t.co/aqjHxeyKsb
— Matt Wolking (@MattWolking) August 27, 2019
This incident comes after O’Rourke posted last year that “the press is not the enemy of the people.”
“The press is not the enemy of the people but the best defense against tyranny. We need to vigorously defend the freedom of the press. It’s essential for our democracy,” he wrote in October 2018.
Beto O’Rourke’s campaign did not immediately respond to our email request for comment.