Midterm elections: Reporter fired for leaving profanity-laced voicemail to Republican candidate

Chris Riotta

A Michigan reporter has been fired for unwittingly leaving a profanity-laced voicemail to a Republican candidate in the 2018 midterm elections.

Brenda Battel, who worked as a staff writer for the Huron Daily Tribune, was let go from the local rural newspaper after her accidental voicemail was first reported by the Daily Caller.

The reporter was apparently attempting to contact conservative candidate John James on Monday afternoon when she seemingly believed she had hung up the phone before saying: “Man, if he beats her...Jesus!”

“F***ing John James,” she added. “That would suck! … I don’t think it’s going to happen though.”

Mr James was running as the Republican candidate in Michigan, where he lost Tuesday night to Democratic candidate Debbie Stabenow for US Senate.

Prior to his defeat, the Republican’s senatorial campaign released the voicemail recording in a video uploaded to YouTube titled “Voicemail”.

The recording had garnered over 200,000 views by Tuesday night.

Ms Battel had worked at the Huron Daily Tribune for less than three years, according to her editor, Kate Hessling.

“It’s imperative that our reporters act professional and neutral when dealing with the public, and that was not done in this situation,” the editor told the Washington Post on Monday. “And that was inexcusable.”

The newspaper also posted a public apology to Mr James and his campaign, writing on its website, “The Huron Daily Tribune sincerely apologises 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.”

However, Mr James was no longer focused on the controversy after Tuesday night’s election, thanking his supporters for their support during the crucial election.

“Thank you, co-pilots,” the veteran tweeted. “Your love and support means the world to me and my family. Our campaign has been about protecting the American Dream for future generations.”

“We elevated some important issues and our movement isn’t going anywhere,” he continued, adding, “God Bless.”

By Tuesday night, Ms Battel’s social media pages all appeared to have been removed or disabled, except for her Twitter account. The reporter tweeted, “My apologies to @JohnJamesMI. I am human. I made a mistake.”

“While I did my best to be a fair, objective, professional journalist, what I said reflected none of those traits,” she continued. “For this, I am truly sorry to all of those who have been affected by my mistake.