It’s not often that I write about local politics lately, but this story is worth reporting. The Republican candidate for the U.S. House of Representatives, Greg Gianforte, has tonight been accused of grabbing a reporter by the neck and slamming him to the ground.
In the wake of this, the state’s largest city newspaper, the Billings Gazette, has withdrawn their endorsement. They write tonight that they are at a loss for words, but that the altercation between Gianforte and the reporter, Ben Jacobs, looks and sound clearly like a case of assault. There is no sense in supporting a candidate that returns journalistic questioning with outright violence. As they say, “eyewitness accounts, law enforcement investigations and records are all shocking, disturbing and without precedent.
That’s why The Billings Gazette editorial board is also doing something without precedent: We’re rescinding our editorial endorsement of Greg Gianforte.”
Watch (or rather listen) and judge for yourself:
If you’re not sure what happened, FOX News reporter Alicia Acuna was there and stated that:
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 reporter. As Gianforte moved on top of Jacobs, he began yelling something to the effect of, “I’m sick and tired of this!”
Jacobs scrambled to his knees and said something about his glasses being broken. He asked Faith, Keith and myself for our names. In shock, we did not answer. Jacobs then said he wanted the police called and went to leave.
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.
In days past, this would certainly have ended a politician’s career instantly. Let us hope that it does the same for Gianforte today. Politicians on either side of the aisle can complain about media biases one way or the other, but none should EVER be allowed to physically assault reporters and get away with it. That would too easily open the door to fascism.
Again, we can only hope that tomorrow morning brings an apologetic withdrawal from Gianforte (with real humility and hope for future service to the people of Montana and the US).
But if it does not, I hope this galvanizes every single Montana resident who hasn’t voted yet to vote AGAINST Gianforte (whether that be for the Democrat of the Libertarian candidate) – simply to say that politicians work for US and we don’t accept these childish and violent outbursts. Grow up, Greg. If you want to be in politics, be prepared for journalists asking tough questions again and again. And be prepared for constituents who want ANSWERS, again and again.
I only hope that more media outlets follow the Billings Gazette NOW and publish those retracted endorsements in the morning as voting takes place.