NPI's Cascadia Advocate

Offering commentary and analysis from Washington, Oregon, and Idaho, The Cascadia Advocate is the Northwest Progressive Institute's uplifting perspective on world, national, and local politics.

Wednesday, May 24th, 2017

Guardian reporter assaulted by Republican Greg Gianforte on eve of special election

For­get Repub­li­can dirty tricks — how about out­right thuggery?

The Repub­li­can can­di­date for Montana’s con­gres­sion­al seat slammed a Guardian reporter to the floor on the eve of the state’s spe­cial elec­tion, break­ing his glass­es and shout­ing, “Get the hell out of here.”

Ben Jacobs, a Guardian polit­i­cal reporter, was ask­ing Greg Gian­forte, a tech mil­lion­aire run­ning for the seat vacat­ed by Ryan Zinke, about the Repub­li­can health­care plan when the can­di­date alleged­ly “body-slammed” the reporter.

“He took me to the ground,” Jacobs said by phone from the back of an ambu­lance. “I think he wailed on me once or twice … He got on me and I think he hit me … This is the strangest thing that has ever hap­pened to me in report­ing on politics.”

If that weren’t despi­ca­ble enough, Gian­forte’s cam­paign is now try­ing to blame Jacobs — the vic­tim of Gian­forte’s assault — for the crime.

A state­ment by cam­paign spokesman Shane Scan­lon blamed Jacobs for the alter­ca­tion, say­ing that he “entered the office with­out per­mis­sion, aggres­sive­ly shoved a recorder in Greg’s face, and began ask­ing bad­ger­ing questions”.

“Jacobs was asked to leave,” the state­ment reads. “After ask­ing Jacobs to low­er the recorder, Jacobs declined. Greg then attempt­ed to grab the phone that was pushed in his face. 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.”

Unfor­tu­nate­ly for Gian­forte and Scan­lon, a Fox crew was in the room, wit­nessed the assault, and cor­rob­o­rates Ben Jacobs’ account of being body slammed.

Fox News reporter Ali­cia Acu­na, field pro­duc­er Faith Man­gan and pho­tog­ra­ph­er Kei­th Rai­ley wit­nessed the inci­dent, accord­ing to an account pub­lished by After Jacobs asked Gian­forte his ques­tion, Acu­na wrote, “Gian­forte grabbed Jacobs by the neck with both hands and slammed him into the ground behind him.

“Faith, Kei­th and I watched in dis­be­lief as Gian­forte then began punch­ing the man, as he moved on top the reporter and began yelling some­thing to the effect of ‘I’m sick and tired of this!’ … To be clear, at no point did any of us who wit­nessed this assault see Jacobs show any form of phys­i­cal aggres­sion toward Gian­forte, who left the area after giv­ing state­ments to local sheriff’s deputies.”

Despite the fact that there is an audio record­ing of the assault along with eye­wit­ness accounts, Gian­forte has not yet been arrested.

From the Boze­man Dai­ly Chron­i­cle:

Gal­latin Coun­ty Sher­iff Bri­an Gootkin said wit­ness­es are still being inter­viewed, includ­ing Jacobs. Inves­ti­ga­tors have not yet for­mal­ly inter­viewed Gian­forte, though he spoke to deputies at the scene.

Gootkin added his office has retrieved the audio record­ing from Jacobs and has been in con­tact with Gal­latin Coun­ty Attor­ney Mar­ty Lam­bert. Gian­forte was not arrest­ed, and no charges were filed.

The sher­iff said charges were not filed at the scene because inves­ti­ga­tors did­n’t have enough infor­ma­tion at the time. He said the detec­tive divi­sion is treat­ing the case like any oth­er investigation.

The Chron­i­cle’s sto­ry does­n’t men­tion that Gootkin is a donor to Gian­forte. Per­haps that explains his reluc­tance to make an arrest. He can’t claim his deputies still don’t have the evi­dence need­ed to show that Gian­forte com­mit­ted a crime.

It should be not­ed that this isn’t the first time Gian­forte has demon­strat­ed a hos­til­i­ty to the mass media. From the clos­ing pas­sages of the Chron­i­cle’s report:

Accord­ing to the Raval­li Repub­lic, at a cam­paign event in Hamil­ton in April, a man in the audi­ence asked Gian­forte “how can we rein in the news media?” The man then looked at the Repub­lic reporter and “raised his hands as if he would like to wing his neck,” the news­pa­per report­ed. In response, Gian­forte said:

“It seems like there is more of us than there is of him. I don’t have a sim­ple solu­tion for you. I will say that doing town hall meet­ings and get­ting out and vis­it­ing with peo­ple is very important.”

Gian­forte hap­pens to be a mul­ti­mil­lion­aire with Russ­ian hold­ings — no won­der Don­ald Trump and his fam­i­ly are enam­ored with him.

Tomor­row is the dead­line to vote in Mon­tana’s spe­cial elec­tion to choose a suc­ces­sor to Ryan Zinke, who was tapped by Don­ald Trump to join his regime as Inte­ri­or Sec­re­tary. Mon­tana vot­ed over­whelm­ing­ly for Trump last Novem­ber, but it has a his­to­ry of elect­ing Demo­c­ra­t­ic gov­er­nors and U.S. Sen­a­tors despite sup­port­ing Repub­li­can pres­i­den­tial nominees.

Democ­rats are field­ing Rob Quist, a charis­mat­ic musi­cian with deep Mon­tana roots who has been ham­mer­ing Gian­forte for his sup­port of Trumpcuts/Ryancuts.

Quist’s cam­paign has declined to make a state­ment regard­ing Gian­forte’s assault of Jacobs, pre­fer­ring to focus on mak­ing its clos­ing argu­ment to voters.

Two major news­pa­pers pulled their sup­port of Gian­forte fol­low­ing the assault.

Said The Mis­sou­lian:

“[T]there is no doubt that Gian­forte com­mit­ted an act of ter­ri­ble judg­ment that, if it doesn’t land him in jail, also shouldn’t land him in the U.S. House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives. He showed Wednes­day night that he lacks the expe­ri­ence, brains and abil­i­ties to effec­tive­ly rep­re­sent Mon­tana in any elect­ed office.”

Said The Bllings Gazette:

“We believe that you can­not love Amer­i­ca, love the Con­sti­tu­tion, talk about the impor­tance of a free press and then pum­mel a reporter. Beyond that, if Gian­forte did­n’t have the good and com­mon sense to sim­ply walk away from ques­tions he did­n’t like, we can­not believe he’s going to be able to make much more dif­fi­cult, com­plex deci­sions when he’s in Con­gress. In no way would we want our read­ers or our com­mu­ni­ty to believe we stood behind what appears to be an assault or an attack. We do not and we do not endorse Gianforte.”

Quist has been barn­storm­ing the state in recent days, with Bernie Sanders mak­ing appear­ances on behalf of his cam­paign in key cities.

Hun­dreds of thou­sands of bal­lots have already been cast in the elec­tion, but many vot­ers have yet to weigh in. Mon­tana has same-day vot­er reg­is­tra­tion, so any cit­i­zen not on the rolls can par­tic­i­pate by show­ing up at a polling place.

POSTSCRIPT: Gootk­in’s office now says that Gian­forte has been charged with mis­de­meanor assault. Good. Now take him into custody.

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  1. I guess that telling the truth is Lib­er­al bias.

    # by Mike Barer :: May 25th, 2017 at 6:38 AM
  2. I hope he los­es! This is ridiculous.

    # by Gretchen Sand :: May 25th, 2017 at 7:27 AM
  3. He won, although I may be a night­mare for him as reporters are going to try to ruf­fle his feathers.
    It’s sad, but to many in Mon­tana, like some folks in East­ern Wash­ing­ton, East­ern Ore­gon, and all of Ida­ho, anger­ing the mass media is con­sid­ered a badge of honor.

    # by Mike Barer :: May 26th, 2017 at 11:39 PM
  4. There is always more to these types of sto­ries than what gets print­ed. Hav­ing had first time expe­ri­ence with nation­al and local media and their rep­re­sen­ta­tives I am con­fi­dent that Mr. Gian­forte’s ver­sion of the event will nev­er be heard or under­stood. Regard­less of all of that he should remem­ber the old shibboleth,“Never get into a piss­ing match with a skunk” when it comes to the media. They buy ink by the barrels.

    # by Dick Kraske :: May 27th, 2017 at 11:40 AM
    • “Always” and “nev­er” can be dan­ger­ous words, Dick. Here, you’re wrong. Not every­thing comes down to he said/she said. Peo­ple lie — and Gian­forte’s “ver­sion” of what hap­pened (the ver­sion prop­a­gat­ed by his cam­paign’s spokesper­son) is a lie. 

      We know the facts of this case: A reporter for The Guardian showed up to ask a can­di­date for the U.S. House a ques­tion, and the can­di­date lost his tem­per and assault­ed the reporter, the sounds of which were cap­tured in an audio record­ing. The assault was wit­nessed by a Fox crew. The Fox crew can’t be accused of being hos­tile media… it almost goes with­out say­ing that Fox is in the tank for the Repub­li­can Par­ty; Fox is prac­ti­cal­ly an exten­sion of the Repub­li­can Nation­al Com­mit­tee and could be called “RNC Broadcasting”. 

      The local sher­iff — who him­self is a donor to Gian­forte — sub­se­quent­ly filed a mis­de­meanor assault charge against Gian­forte because his depart­men­t’s inves­ti­ga­tion con­clud­ed that Gian­forte broke the law when he assault­ed the reporter. 

      If Gian­forte had­n’t lost his tem­per, there would have been no assault and no sto­ry. Gian­forte has only him­self to blame for what happened.

      # by Andrew :: May 29th, 2017 at 12:20 PM
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