Republican Candidate Bodyslams Reporter; Lies About What Happened

[Content Note: Violence.]

Last night, Guardian reporter Ben Jacobs was asking Greg Gianforte, the Republican nominee running in the special election in Montana to replace Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke, about the newly-released CBO score of the Republican healthcare bill when Gianforte flipped his shit slammed Jacobs to the ground, breaking his glasses.

The audio was indeed published by the Guardian, and it makes abundantly clear what happened. The Guardian report also includes this surely non-incidental fact: "On 28 April, Jacobs reported on Gianforte's financial ties to Russian companies that have been sanctioned by the US. Gianforte's wealth is estimated at between $65m and $315m."

Gianforte, who has been endorsed by Donald Trump, left the scene without being interviewed by police. His campaign released this statement: "Tonight, as Greg was giving a separate interview in a private office, The Guardian's Ben Jacobs entered the office without permission, aggressively shoved a recorder in Greg's face, and began asking badgering questions. Jacobs was then asked to leave. 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."

Note that the candidate is "Greg," while the reporter he assaulted is "Jacobs," and "a liberal journalist."

The Huffington Post's Michael Calderone noted: "In the past two weeks, reporters have been arrested, pinned against a wall, and now body slammed—all for trying to ask a question."

Which is the inevitable result of a president who spent his campaign waging a war on the press. Who defended, using gross rape culture tropes, his then-campaign manager Corey Lewandowski's assault of reporter Michelle Fields. Who himself grabbed the wrist of reporter Alexi McCammond. Who repeatedly insulted NBC's Katy Tur in misogynist terms. Who encouraged his supporters to hate and harass the press.

We should not be surprised—although we should be very, very outraged—that a member of the press has now been assaulted by a Republican candidate.

Trump didn't invent the conservative contempt for the "liberal media," but he has escalated it into a newly vicious war. He carried the flag, and the Republican Party has followed him into battle against the free press, shouting about "fake news" and failing utterly to condemn Trump as he continues to erode press access, changing libel laws, and personally demeaning journalists.

The attack on Ben Jacobs is heinous. It is part of a larger attack on the free press that constitutes a dire threat to this country's future. And it must be taken very seriously.

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