A Guardian journalist was yesterday apparently assaulted by a US congressional candidate standing for election in Montana.
Political reporter Ben Jacobs was involved the incident which happened yesterday ahead of today’s election for the US House of Representatives.
Three Fox News journalists witnessed the incident at the campaign headquarters of Republican candidate Greg Gianforte.
They were setting up an in interview and exchanging pleasantries with Gianforte when they witnessed the following (as reported on the Fox News website):
“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 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 reporter. As Gianforte moved on top of Jacobs, he began yelling something to the effect of, ‘I’m sick and tired of this!’
“Jacobs scrambled to his knees and said something about his glasses being broken. He asked Faith, Keith and myself for our names. In shock, we did not answer. Jacobs then said he wanted the police called and went to leave. Gianforte looked at the three of us and repeatedly apologised. At that point, I told him and Scanlon, who was now present, that we needed a moment. The men then left.
“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.”
Gianforte’s press spokesman Shan Scanlon said in a statement that Jacobs crashed an interview Gianforte was giving another reporter “and began asking badgering questions” adding that he was “was asked to leave.”
He said: “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.”
The Guardian has published an audio of the altercation which does not capture Jacobs being asked to leave.
Gianforte is heard saying: “I’m sick and tired of you guys. The last guy who came here did the same thing. Get the hell out of here. Get the hell out of here. The last guy did the same thing. Are you with the Guardian?”
Jacobs: “Yes! You just broke my glasses.”
Gianforte: “The last guy did the same damn thing.”
Jacobs: “You just body slammed me and broke my glasses.”
Gianforte: “Get the hell out of here.”
Guardian US editor Lee Glendinning said in a statement: “The Guardian is deeply appalled by how our reporter, Ben Jacobs, was treated in the course of doing his job as a journalist while reporting on the Montana special election.”
“We are committed to holding power to account and we stand by Ben Jacobs and our team of reporters for the questions they ask and the reporting that is produced.”