Ben Jacobs, a reporter for The Guardian, asked Greg Gianforte a predictable question about the Republican health care bill, now under consideration in the U.S. Senate after passing the House.
In just a few seconds, Jacobs says Gianforte body-slammed him to the ground and yelled at him to “get the hell out of here.”
Here’s an audio recording of the incident posted by The Guardian:
Gianforte, a Republican, is running for Montana’s U.S. House seat. The special election is tomorrow.
On the recording, you hear Jacobs, sounding shaken, telling Gianforte he broke his glasses and that he’d like to call the police. A man’s voice is heard telling Jacobs he needs to leave.
“He took me to the ground,” Jacobs told his paper from the back of an ambulance. “This is the strangest thing that has ever happened to me in reporting on politics.”
Gianforte’s campaign put out this statement:
Gianforte's statement: pic.twitter.com/WVNdA1yZ8w
— Kyle Cheney (@kyledcheney) May 25, 2017
It appears the “separate interview” was granted to a Fox News television crew. Here’s an excerpt of reporter Alicia Acuna’s account:
As part of our preparation for a story about Thursday’s special election to air on “Special Report with Bret Baier,” we arranged interviews with the top two candidates, Republican Greg Gianforte and Democrat Rob Quist. On Wednesday, I joined field producer Faith Mangan and photographer Keith Railey in Bozeman for our scheduled interview with Gianforte, which was to take place at the Gianforte for Congress Bozeman Headquarters.
Faith, Keith and I arrived early to set up for the interview in a room adjacent to another room where a volunteer BBQ was to take place. As the time for the interview neared, Gianforte came into the room. We exchanged pleasantries and made small talk about restaurants and Bozeman.
During that conversation, another man — who we now know is Ben Jacobs of The Guardian — walked into the room with a voice recorder, put it up to Gianforte’s face and began asking if him if he had a response to the newly released Congressional Budget Office report on the American Health Care Act. Gianforte told him he would get to him later. Jacobs persisted with his question. Gianforte told him to talk to his press guy, Shane Scanlon.
At that point, 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!”
The Associated Press reports the Gallatin County Sheriff’s Office is investigating. Sheriff Brian Gootkin told reporters at a news conference Gianforte is among the people to be interviewed.
A New York Times reporter called Jacobs after the incident tonight. Jacobs’ last words on the call: “Wait for my piece to go up, don’t scoop me on this.”