(Update:Montana Assault Witness Changes Story, Says No Neck Grab
Reporter says firsthand account misstated key aspect of Gianforte incident
—Lifezette—A reporter who was a firsthand witness to an incident late Wednesday involving Montana GOP candidate Greg Gianforte and a reporter for the Guardian now admits she may have misstated some details of her initial story.)
Any time the media jump all over a story that looks terrible for a Republican, I smell a rat. And when the poor, innocent victim is a mainstream journalist, I smell a double rat. My instinct is usually that it’s all just a little too perfect, and usually when I look into it I find that I was right to trust my instincts.
So when I heard that Greg Gianforte, the Republican candidate in the upcoming Montana special congressional election, had assaulted a reporter for asking him questions about health care, my first thought was, “What aren’t they telling us?”
Was the reporter the aggressor?
Had he slandered the candidate or his family at some point?
Was he making a scene that the candidate was trying to get under control?
So I looked into it thinking I might discover that somewhere was another side of the story that would put Gianforte’s actions in a better light. And I came up with . . . nothing:
Ben Jacobs was trying to ask Gianforte about healthcare, according to an audio tape captured by the British newspaper’s correspondent. He was taken to the hospital and later released, media reports said.
Fox News Channel reporter Alicia Acuna, who was preparing to interview Gianforte at the time, said the candidate “grabbed Jacobs by the neck with both hands and slammed him to the ground.”
Acuna, her field producer and photographer then “watched in disbelief as Gianforte began punching the reporter, she wrote on the Fox News website.
“I’m sick and tired of you guys,” Gianforte can be heard saying in the audio tape. “The last guy who came here did the same thing. Get the hell out of here.”
Gianforte was favored in a state where Republicans have held its lone House seat for two decades and where fellow Republican Trump won by more than 20 percentage points in the 2016 presidential election.
He faces Democrat Rob Quist, a banjo-playing folk singer and first-time candidate, to fill the U.S. House of Representatives seat vacated when Trump named Ryan Zinke as secretary of the interior. Quist declined to comment on the incident.
Gianforte’s campaign did not deny Jacobs’ allegation but countered in its own statement that the reporter provoked an altercation by barging into the candidate’s office, shoving a recording device in his face and “asking badgering questions.”
I have no trouble believing the statement from Gianforte’s campaign that Jacobs was being obnoxious. I’ve seen reporters do this many times. They barge in when it’s not the right time to badger someone with questions, shove a microphone in the candidate’s face and just go for it. And if Acuna already had an interview scheduled and was getting ready to do that interview, then Jacobs was all the more obnoxious for barging in and trying to do his own interview.
But: If that’s all there is, it is nowhere near justification for physically assaulting the guy as Gianforte apparently did. It is a normal thing that journalists are rude jerks who refuse to respect your time, your schedule or the need to wait until the right time to start pelting you with badgering questions. It’s one of the reasons I find them to be such disgusting human beings.
But if Gianforte wants to go to Congress, he had better get used to it. He’s only in for more of it, and your method of dealing with it cannot be violence.
Now, if Jacobs had pushed first, or responded physically when asked to leave, that would have been another matter entirely. But that does not appear to have happened. Acuna says Jacobs did nothing of the sort, and even Gianforte’s campaign doesn’t allege any such thing in its statement about the incident.
So there’s no defending Gianforte’s actions here, and I’m not going to try just because he’s a Republican and the guy he assaulted is a journalist - however much I sometimes feel like journalists deserve to be punched in the face. You simply can’t do it.
Know what’s ironic, though? Because of early voting - something very much pushed by liberals - Gianforte just might have a chance to squeak through and win this thing anyway. An awful lot of people in the district had already voted before this incident, and that was their choice. There are no redos. If early voting sends Gianforte to Congress in spite of this incident, well . . . that would be delicious.
Dan Calabrese’s column is distributed by HermanCain.com, which can be found at HermanCain.com
A new edition of Dan’s book “Powers and Principalities” is now available in hard copy and e-book editions. Follow all of Dan’s work, including his series of Christian spiritual warfare novels, by liking his page on Facebook.Commenting Policy
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