John James, Michigan Update: Reporter Fired After Accidental Voicemail Says She Hopes Republican Candidate Loses

An accidental voicemail left for Senate candidate John James cost a Michigan reporter more than a bit of embarrassment. It cost her her job.

On Monday, Brenda Battel, a reporter for the Huron Daily Tribune, called James's campaign office and left a voicemail. In the voicemail, she expressed her hope that she could arrange an interview with the political newcomer on Wednesday to discuss the election results.

Battel explained that she would also send an email to the campaign with details about the requested interview and provided her phone number to receive a return phone call. After politely thanking the recipient of the voicemail, Battel ended the call, or so she thought.

In the voicemail, the handset could be heard being placed down, however, the phone didn't fully hang up and the voicemail recording caught Battel making some disparaging comments about James.

"Man if he beats her…Jesus!" Battel said after she thought she had hung up the phone. "F**king John James. That would suck!"

Just before the recording ended, which was uploaded to YouTube by The Daily Caller, Battel said that she didn't believe James would beat his opponent, incumbent Senator Debbie Stabenow. Newsweek reached out to James's campaign for comment but did not receive an immediate response.

reporter fired john james
Michigan GOP Senate candidate John James campaigns with the help of Senator Marco Rubio at Senor Lopez Restaurant on August 13 in Detroit. A reporter was fired on Monday after she left a voicemail for James that included her dismay if he were to win the election. Bill Pugliano/Getty Images

In a statement to The Daily Caller, James campaign manager Tori Sachs said the voicemail showed "some media will do anything to keep the status quo and career politicians in power.

"The liberal media can't stand the idea of a job creator and combat veteran coming to Washington to shake up the system," Sachs added. "This happened as we closed in within the margin of error."

On Monday evening, the Huron Daily Tribune issued a statement on its website that addressed the voicemail. Kate Hessling, the editor of the Huron Daily Tribune,said that she listened to the voicemail Battel left and found "no reason to defend this behavior." As a result, Battel was terminated from her position.

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

In a statement to Newsweek, Battel explained that when a journalist reports the news, their opinions must be put aside to represent the facts. She noted that when she made the comments about James and his campaign, she was not reporting the news.

"That was 100 percent my opinion, and I did not expect that it would be for public consumption," Battel said. "I obviously have regrets and am embarrassed that it was released."

Battel stood by her work with the Huron Daily Tribune and told Newsweek that she never let her opinions interfere with telling the truth, which she said she proved in every news article she wrote.

James, a West Point graduate and Army veteran, was running to oust Stabenow, who has served as a Michigan senator since 2000. He's received the support of President Donald Trump, Vice President Mike Pence and senior adviser Kellyanne Conway. Ahead of the midterm elections, Pence visited Michigan to rally for James, telling the crowd that "America and Michigan needed John James in the United States Senate," according to The Detroit News.

Last minute polls show James trailing Stabenow by seven points, according to the Detroit Metro Times, down from the 23 point lead Stabenow had in September.

This article has been updated to include the response from Huron Daily Tribune reporter Brenda Battel.