Republican charged in assault on reporter leads in bellwether Montana congressional contest

Marcus Newton
May 26, 2017

Early election results show Lewis and Clark County voters favoring Democrat Rob Quist over Republican Greg Gianforte in the race to fill the vacant U.S. House seat held by Rep. Ryan Zinke, a Republican, who resigned to become secretary of the Interior.

But as Politico pointed out, Trump hasn't been much of a factor in the Montana special election for Democrats, and Gianforte had no problem showing off his ties to the president.

"Yeah, but there's not going to be time", Jacobs says.

Gianforte could face a maximum $500 fine or six months in jail if convicted; he's due in court on or before June 7.

Jacobs began asking the candidate about the health care bill passed by the House when the crew and Jacobs say Gianforte slammed him to the floor, yelling "Get out of here!" Ms. Acuna wrote in a blog post that she and her colleagues "watched in disbelief as Gianforte then began punching the reporter".

He continued to explain his mistake and then apologized to the reporter he allegedly assaulted.

But the theme of the election shifted Wednesday night when Jacobs walked into Gianforte's office as he was preparing for an interview with Fox News. Fox & Friends' Jillian Mele reported on the assault by neglecting the witness accounts, one of which was reported by Fox News' own reporter Alicia Acuna, and repeating Gianforte's claim that "the men both fell".

When Jacobs says that there won't be time, Gianforte says "Just-" and there is a crashing sound.

And don't forget that Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski was charged with simple battery of a reporter previous year (the local prosecutor ultimately decided not to prosecute him), and that a Time photographer was slammed to the ground during a Trump rally.

Republican congressional candidate Greg Gianforte looks on during a campaign meet and greet at Lions Park on May 23, 2017 in Great Falls, Montana.

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Luanne Biggs, who voted for Gianforte, told the Bozeman Daily Chronicle, "I understand the frustration of someone being right in your face". Reporters asked why Gianforte had not been detained, and the sheriff said his deputies "got busy with the witnesses and the victim", and Gianforte left.

The altercation took place at Gianforte's campaign headquarters in Bozeman after reporter Ben Jacobs tried to ask him about Republicans' plans for health care.

It's unclear how Wednesday's misdemeanor assault charges against the Republican candidate, Greg Gianforte, will affect the outcome, particularly since a large number of voters cast their ballots before today.

"Yeah, I think he should apologize", U.S. House of Representatives Speaker Paul Ryan told a news briefing.

Fox News' primetime handling of the incident again underscored how the network's news-focused reporters and anchors sometimes cover major stories very differently than its conservative opinion hosts, who appear reluctant to highlight stories that may be unflattering to President Donald Trump or the Republican Party. In 2006, the Democratic nominee for governor of Minnesota lost a close race after accusing a reporter who asked tough questions of being "a Republican whore".

But a 45-second recording that Jacobs released does not contain a request from Gianforte that Jacobs lower his phone.

While there was scant polling in the state during the campaign, Gianforte was widely expected to take the seat.

Afterward, three state newspapers rescinded their endorsements of Mr Gianforte. He's accused of grabbing Jacobs by the throat and throwing him to the ground in his campaign office Wednesday night. I don't think that we are in a "post-truth" age, but clearly we are living in a time when numerous basic facts of political reality are up for grabs.

Gianforte's whereabouts weren't immediately known Thursday.

Other reports by MaliBehiribAe

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