Remember when politicians weren’t able to attack reporters and still run in an election the very next day? Republican U.S. House candidate Greg Gianforte was issued a citation by a Montana sheriff – who also donated $250 to his campaign – after he “body slammed” a reporter from The Guardian. Ben Jacobs was covering an event in Bozeman, Mont. on the even of a special election between Gianforte and Rob Quist. NBC reports that Jacobs and Gianforte actually have a bit of history as Jacobs reported that the hopefully Congressman invested in Russian businesses under U.S. sanctions. Still, a little bit of bad blood is no excuse to grab a reporter “by the neck with both hands and [slam] him into the ground.”
Surprisingly, that quote comes from a Fox News reporter who was on the scene during the altercation. Alicia Acuna was present, along with two colleagues and saw Gianforte attack Jacobs after he asked him questions about the American Health Care Act.
“At that point, Gianforte grabbed Jacobs by the neck with both hands and slammed him into the ground behind him,” Acuna wrote on Fox. “Faith, Keith and I watched in disbelief as Gianforte then began punching the reporter. As Gianforte moved on top of Jacobs, he began yelling something to the effect of, “I’m sick and tired of this!”
News of the assault first broke when Jacobs tweeted about it himself. After that, Gianforte’s spokesman, Shane Scanlon, released a statement to try and get ahead of the story.
“Greg then attempted to grab the phone that was pushed in his face,” Scanlon said. “Jacobs grabbed Greg’s wrist, and spun away from Greg, pushing them both to the ground.”
“It’s unfortunate that this aggressive behavior from a liberal journalist created this scene at our campaign volunteer BBQ,” he said.
However, accounts from other witnesses quickly proved Scanlon’s statement false, including an audio recording released by The Guardian, and made the entire scandal that much worse.
“I’m sick and tired of you guys! The last time you came in here you did the same thing. Get the hell out of here! Get the hell out of here!” a voice, believed to be Gianforte’s, can be heard in the recording.
“The last guy did the same thing. You with The Guardian?” the man asks.
Jacobs responds: “Yes, and you just broke my glasses. … You just body-slammed me and broke my glasses.”
“Get the hell out of here,” responds the man.
Today, Montana residents will get to vote on who their next representative is. Fortunately, election day registration is allowed so anyone who was motivated to keep a reporter-assaulting, Trump-supported candidate out of office can do so.