Montana Republican Choke Slams Reporter
Greg Gianforte has been charged with misdemeanor assault for attacking reporter Ben Jacobs with The Guardian. Gianforte is a Republican candidate vying for Montana’s at-large seat in the U.S. House of Representatives. On Wednesday, an audio recording captured Gianforte grabbing Jacobs by the neck, slamming him to the ground, then shouting at him.
***Audio*** of the Gianforte assault:
Gianforte was apparently ill-prepared to defend Trump’s healthcare plan. As a result, rather than state his position on the record, Gianforte exploded in a fit of violent rage in front of a room of witnesses. After slamming Jacobs, Gianforte can be heard shouting, "I'm sick and tired of you guys. The last guy that came in here did the same exact thing. Get the hell out of here!" Gianforte then inquired, "Are you with the Guardian?" Jacobs replies, "yes." Then Gianforte exclaims, "The last guy did the same damn thing," implying that an attack against reporters of one particular media outlet would be more justified than if his senseless violence were an arbitrary manifestation of general Republican disdain for the press.
After receiving confirmation from Jacobs that he was employed by The Guardian, Jacobs stated in disbelief, "you just body-slammed me and broke my glasses." This prompted an embarrassed Gianforte to repeat, "Get the hell out of here," in a more hushed tone. Note, Gianforte never denied the allegation. Rather than responding, I didn't touch you or that's a lie, Gianforte repeated, "Get the hell out of here." According to eyewitness accounts, after Jacobs' departure, Gianforte immediately apologized to reporters in the room.
Alicia Acuna with Fox News, provided details of her account which corroborate Jacobs' story. According to Acuna, "Gianforte grabbed Jacobs by the neck with both hands and slammed him into the ground behind him." Acuna continued, "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."
Vacating the position necessitating Montana's special election to fill the at-large seat in the U.S. House of Representatives is former Representative Ryan Zinke. In March, Zinke was appointed by the Trump administration to serve as the country’s Secretary of the Interior.
With two candidates emerging as frontrunners to replace Zinke in the House, Gianforte, and Democratic candidate Rob Quist, it seems unlikely this attack will sway the election one way or the other. Despite recent scandal and evidence of impropriety, Republican voters have not punished Republican candidates in the ballot box. As it relates to Gianforte’s choke slam (a headline befitting a post-apocalyptic movie thriller), if elected, criminal procedure may interrupt his first term as the district attorney moves forward with his prosecution.