Reporter says Republican U.S. House candidate ‘body-slammed’ him

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:

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.”

  • jon

    Attacking the media worked for another candidate…

    • Gary F

      He is 10 points up. He doesn’t need a stunt like that to help in the polls. Now his ratings will go up.

      • Veronica

        Citation? Last I read he was only up by 6 points.

      • Rob

        Good to know assault is a ratings boost. American Exceptionalism at its finest.

      • jon

        Well if he didn’t need it, and it’s a risky move that no one really knows how it will turn out, then he is stupid.
        So he’ll fit in well in with the congressional [we didn’t read the bill before we voted for it] GOP…

  • John O.

    Gianforte wins. Big.

  • Gary F

    Any folding chairs?

  • Jack

    We are doomed.

  • J-dawg

    “It’s unfortunate that this aggressive behavior from a liberal journalist created this scene.” It really doesn’t matter what kind of a reporter it was. It was a reporter. You don’t get to just attack them because you have anger issues.

    • TigerKim

      Another option for Mr. Politician was to just walk away & keep walking. He KNOWS the media is aggressive. It’s part of his job to develop civil skills to refuse their intrusions, when he wants to refuse.

  • TigerKim

    “….aggressive behavior from a liberal journalist” … sounds like a snowflake excuse needing anger management & medications, and a departure from public service. Am I really supposed to believe there are no aggressive republican journalists?

  • MrE85

    He has now been charged and all of the top newspapers in the state have publicly withdrawn their endorsements. It’s up to you now, Montana voters.

    • Jeff C.

      Sadly about two thirds of them have already voted — early voting.

      • L. Foonimin

        And that folks, is one of the problems with Early Voting. In my humble opinion we should make Election Day a national holiday, eliminate Early Voting and strictly limit absentee ballots.

        • Kassie

          Strictly limiting absentee ballots just disenfranchises people. There will always be people who don’t meet whatever definitions you put on the early voting who want to vote and now can’t. Social anxiety, infant child, broke down car, hates pens, whatever it is, it is just better to let everyone who feels they need to vote early, vote early. Situations like this are the chances they take.

          • MrE85

            It could be that those who have not yet voted are those who had not yet made up their minds on their pick. If that is the case, we might see an upset. Or not. I’m not very good at predicting what voters will do.

          • “broke down car”

            ?? If a broken down car makes it impossible for someone to vote on an election day, how would someone have any way of knowing /before/ election day if their car was going to break down, so that they would cast a early vote?

          • Kassie

            Because there are people whose car breaks down and doesn’t get fixed for weeks and weeks and they know this. With early voting, they may be able to get a ride the weekend before to the early voting location, but not on the day of.

          • L. Foonimin

            I respectfully disagree. Voting is the only opportunity,
            combining with like-minded individuals, to affect the political process. Especially now when big money tips the balance, (bye the way they don’t buy our elected officials they merely rent them), informed voters are critical.

            In our democratic republic system citizens have few
            obligations. One is to vote. Is it a burden to some? Of course, but it is so basic, so important that a way can always be found to accomplish it. If it is so unimportant that the factors listed make it inconvenient or hard perhaps those individuals really shouldn’t vote.

            I don’t advocate eliminating absentee voting but I strongly
            object to making it so easy that it precludes becoming an informed voter and becomes something akin to buying a lottery ticket.

        • Jeff C.

          I’d say the problem is that the Republicans picked an violent and unstable person to be their candidate, not that Early Voting is an option for voters.

          • L. Foonimin

            I agree the candidate is a jerk, my point is one shouldn’t make the decision about who to vote for until the last minute giving ample time for “jerkiness” to appear.

          • Dan

            And if he had done this the day after the election? It’s unfortunate timing in this case, but I don’t think it warrants any changes to early voting.

  • AL287

    I seem to recall another assault incident in 1856 when Senator Charles Sumner was caned by another member of the Senate, Preston Brooks over the issue of slavery only in that incident, Sumner was beaten so badly he could not resume his Senate duties for 3 years.

    Hopefully the current roster of voters in Montana hasn’t gone completely insane and will keep this thug out of the U.S. Congress.

    What was it we discussed in a previous post about Fred Rogers? Common decency?

    Yeah. Right.

  • Jay T. Berken

    At least now the Conservatives actions are finally following their rhetoric. They have been talking this big talk for decades. Then the averting the incident with victimized excuses that follow. Thanks Bin Laden.

  • AmiSchwab

    trumps good relationship with the press is spreading all over. decency is almost extinct.

  • Chris

    This is probably a rare case where it will actually be worse for republicans if this guy wins. It will be a lingering issue that will hang around and he’ll surely be thrown out in 2018.

  • Dan

    Once again, sad but not surprising. More sad and still not surprising will be when people vote for him anyway.

    Even less surprising when Trump supporters defend him. “Hey, that guy was the non-Hannity media asking questions! He deserved to get taken down and punched for that!”