Greg Gianforte, a Republican candidate in Montana, has been accused of body-slamming a political reporter.
Gianforte, a tech mogul who is running in the Montana special election, was recorded on tape allegedly slamming reporter Ben Jacobs to the ground on Wednesday, May 24. Jacobs’ glasses were smashed and he was carted off in an ambulance as a result. Jacobs, a political reporter, had been trying to ask Gianforte about his stance on healthcare.
The audio recording, published by The Guardian shortly after the incident, reveals Jacobs’ and Gianforte’s conversation. The incident took place at Gianforte’s campaign headquarters in Bozeman, Montana, where he had been setting up for an interview with a local news crew.
via The Guardian:
“He took me to the ground,” Jacobs said by phone from the back of an ambulance. “I think he wailed on me once or twice … He got on me and I think he hit me … This is the strangest thing that has ever happened to me in reporting on politics.”
Fox News reporter Alicia Acuna, field producer Faith Mangan and photographer Keith Railey witnessed the incident at Gianforte’s campaign headquarters in Montana, according to an account published by foxnews.com. After Jacobs asked Gianforte his question, Acuna wrote: “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!’ … 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.”
Jacobs reported the incident to The Gallatin county sheriff’s office, who said on Wednesday night it had completed its investigation. Gianforte had been issued with a charge of misdemeanor assault. However, a statement by Shane Scanlon, a spokesman for the Gianforte campaign, blamed Jacobs for the altercation, saying that he “entered the office without permission, aggressively shoved a recorder in Greg’s face, and began asking badgering questions”.
“Jacobs was asked to leave,” the statement reads. “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.”