In today’s world, journalism plays a very important role, seeking out the truth when even the government won’t be honest. Some people find journalists annoying—some refuse to talk to them. But physically assaulting a reporter? Now, that’s taking it way too far.
Ben Jacobs, a reporter for The Guardian, tweeted late Wednesday that he was body-slammed by Montana Republican Congressional candidate Greg Gianforte while trying to ask him a question about health care. Gianforte’s camp later denied the allegation.
Greg Gianforte just body slammed me and broke my glasses
— Ben Jacobs (@Bencjacobs) May 24, 2017
Jacob’s account was confirmed by audio taken during the assault. In the audio, Gianforte is heard yelling, “I am sick and tired of you guys! The last guy who came in here did the same thing! Get the hell out of here!” The situation was also corroborated by a FOX News team, which further detailed the assault, adding Gianforte punched Jacobs. The FOX reporters were in the room when the alleged assault occurred. BuzzFeed reporter Alexis Levinson partially witnessed the assault as well, despite not having a complete view of what happened.
All of a sudden I heard a giant crash and saw Ben’s feet fly in the air as he hit the floor
— Alexis Levinson (@alexis_levinson) May 24, 2017
Gianforte is currently Montana’s frontrunner in a special election for a Congressional seat which was vacated when the Congressman was chosen to become Secretary of the Interior. It is the only seat Montana holds in the U.S. House of Representatives.
After the assault Wednesday, three of Montana’s major newspapers rescinded their endorsement of Gianforte. The Missoulian, The Billings Gazzette and The Independent Record each asserted he was not fit to serve political office and this attack was in blatant disregard for freedom of press. In addition to no newspaper endorsements, Gallatin County Sheriff has charged Gianforte with misdeameanor assault after clamor from the people. The sheriff had previously donated to Gianforte’s campaign but maintains this donation will not interfere with his impartiality in this this case.
Some have even called for Gianforte to pull out the race. This, however, is unlikely as many believe that scandals simply won’t make his supporters like him any less—just like in the case President Donald Trump. There’s no way yet to know how this may affect the race, as more than 200,000 early votes had already been cast by the time the assault occurred, according to The Washington Post.
Gianforte has since canceled his election day interviews with MSNBC and FOX news.
The final polling day for Montana’s special election is Thursday.