When an ardently pro-Ron DeSantis “journalist” caught up with Donald Trump surrogate Kari Lake at the Republican debate Wednesday, he had a specific question for the failed Arizona gubernatorial candidate: “How are you going to run for Senate when you’re already the governor?”
The antagonistic question and subsequent two-minute heckling of Lake by conservative journalist Chris Nelson highlighted the fiery factions created in right-wing media by the Trump versus DeSantis GOP primary.
“Why do you lie about Ron DeSantis?” Nelson yelled in Lake’s direction at one point. “Why do you lie about Ron DeSantis, Kari Lake?”
Lake eventually fired back while preparing for a television hit on media row ahead of the GOP debate.
“Why did Ron DeSantis close his state down?” Lake said, according to video footage taken by Nelson. “Children had to wear masks to school.”
In one particularly pointed shot, Nelson asked Lake where she was going to live “when they repossess Mar-A-Lago.”
The Reagan Library, which hosted the debate, eventually revoked Nelson’s media credentials over his behavior. One event organizer could be heard on camera calling the reporter’s behavior equivalent to “harassment.”
“You’re no longer allowed to be here,” the unidentified organizer said while calling for security backup.
“I saw security come over and escort him off,” a source told The Daily Beast, who witnessed the exchange at the Reagan Library-hosted event.
Melissa Giller, the chief marketing officer at The Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation and Institute, told The Daily Beast that Nelson got the boot over not following the rules.
“Credentialed media, for security reasons, needed to stay in the areas they were credentialed for although this gentleman was credentialed, he wasn’t credentialed for the outdoor area he was in,” Giller said. “In addition, free speech is always encouraged, but he was heckling a guest while she was being interviewed, which went on for quite some time. After being asked to move a few times, the only way we could finally get him to move was to revoke his pass.”
However, Nelson’s boss at the Florida-based conservative news outlet, The Floridian, Javier Manjarres, is now trying to smooth the situation over.
“The incident at the debate in Simi Valley was unfortunate,” Manjarres told The Daily Beast. “Chris has apologized for his unexpected outburst and we as a group apologize to Mrs. Lake and anyone else that was offended. We do not condone this type of behavior and have already dealt with this matter internally.”
In a phone interview, Manjarres said he’s spoken with Nelson and that Nelson “took it back in the sense that he was wrong.”
“He’s remorseful,” Manjarres said.
Still, Nelson hasn’t apologized publicly and didn’t return The Daily Beast’s request for comment.