Democratic presidential candidate Beto O’Rourke’s campaign on Wednesday defended its decision to kick out a Breitbart News reporter from a campaign event held at a historically black college earlier this week.
On Tuesday, Breitbart senior editor-at-large Joel Pollak wrote that a member of O’Rourke’s team asked him to leave while the candidate was giving a speech at Benedict College in Columbia, South Carolina.
O’Rourke’s press secretary, Aleigha Cavalier, said in a statement on Wednesday that the campaign “believes in the right to a free press,” but that Breitbart “walks the line between being news and a perpetrator of hate speech.”
“Given this particular Breitbart employee’s previous hateful reporting and the sensitivity of the topics being discussed with students at an HBCU, a campaign staffer made the call to ask him to leave to ensure that the students attending the event felt comfortable and safe while sharing their experiences as young people of color,” Cavalier continued.
In response to @BreitbartNews ejection, @BetoORourke spox @aleighacavalier says campaign 'believes in the right to a free press and works hard to ensure the campaign reflects that,' while 'Breitbart News walks the line between being news and a perpetrator of hate speech' … pic.twitter.com/kjWGmv0Edb
— David Siders (@davidsiders) August 28, 2019
A Breitbart spokesperson said Cavalier’s comments were “absurd,” pointing to Pollak’s Jewish faith and his marriage to a black woman as evidence.
The incident echoes fellow 2020 Democratic candidate Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s (D-MA) refusal to hold a town hall on Fox News, which she described as a “hate-for-profit racket.”
This story has been updated to include Breitbart’s response.