Caught on tape: Reporter says win by "f***ing John James ... would suck"; Update: Reporter fired

Take it from an old call-center manager — you really want to make sure the phone is either on hold or fully hung up before venting your spleen. The Daily Caller picked up on what happens when a reporter failed to do that when leaving a message for John James, the Republican challenger to Democratic incumbent Sen. Debbie Stabenow. Brenda Battel leaves a professional voice-mail message requesting an interview, and then hangs up. Except … she doesn’t, and instead, the James campaign gets an inside look at what they could have expected from Battel:

Brenda Battel, a reporter for Huron Daily Tribune, left the voicemail on James’s campaign offices phone number at 3:40 PM Monday, requesting the interview for Wednesday, the day after the Nov. 6 midterm elections. In the voicemail, she expresses her interest in interviewing James, believes she hung up the phone, and then goes on to curse about a possible James victory, saying she doesn’t think it will happen.

“Hi, my name is Brenda Battel, I’m a reporter with the Huron Daily Tribune in Bad Axe, Michigan,” Battel said in the voicemail.

“I’m looking to set up an appointment with Mr. James for some time on Wednesday for a phone interview regarding the election results,” Battel continued. “I’m probably going to send an email over to the [email protected] with some details. Um, if you’d like to call me back, my number is … extension … Thank you.”

Battel attempts to hang up after giving her number, but the phone remains connected.

“Man, if he beats her… Jesus! Fucking John James. That would suck! Whew I don’t think it’s going to happen though,” Battel continued.

Don’t hold back … tell us how you really feel. It’s tough to understand why a US veteran entering his first race would earn such enmity from a beat reporter who supposedly is providing Huron Daily Tribune readers with neutral, fact based journalism, unless she’s so invested in Stabenow that she resents any challenge to the status quo. Excuse me, any “f*****g” challenge to the status quo.

Battel might well be right, however, in thinking that it’s not going to happen. James hasn’t led once in the polls, although Allahpundit pointed out last night that a late-breaking poll puts the race inside the margin of error. Stabenow has an 8.3-point lead in RCP’s aggregation, which is certainly better than when James started the race. Michigan provided a big surprise in 2016, but at that time Hillary Clinton’s RCP polling lead was 3.4 points — and Donald Trump actually did lead in one poll published on Election Eve.

We certainly can hope that James gets elected. If Stabenow wins, it will demonstrate the power of incumbency, which doesn’t always “suck,” but James has a shot today. The GOP has a 154,000-ballot lead in early voting with just under 875,000 ballots cast. The 2014 Senate election in which Gary Peters retained the other Michigan seat for Democrats saw nearly 3 million ballots cast, so there are a lot more voters to be heard from today, but it’s not a bad head start for James. If the race really is narrowing in the final days, James could pull off a big upset — even if the odds aren’t high for doing so. If that makes the day “suck” for Battel, well, all the better.

Addendum: Yes, that scenario did happen to me as a call center manager, on an important national account. I don’t envy the day that Battel’s editor will have.

Update: Before publishing this post, I checked to see whether there had been any other developments. I missed this update last night from the Huron Daily Tribune itself, courtesy of my friend Danny Glover:

“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.”

Kudos to Ms. Hessling for a quick response.

Just as an aside, I was able to save my employee’s job after her gaffe, thanks to her exemplary work record and a very gracious customer who accepted her apology as sufficient. This, however, is a different situation and impacted the credibility of the newspaper.