The Missoulian and Billings Gazette both rescinded their endorsement of Republican candidate Greg Gianforte after he allegedly assaulted Ben Jacobs, a Guardian reporter who was asking him about the bad CBO score of Trumpcare Version 2.0. Gianforte has been charged with misdemeanor assault.
The Missoulian wrote that he not only lost the endorsement of their paper but he should lose the confidence of all Montanans.
“Greg Gianforte should not represent Montana in the U.S. House of Representatives.
The Republican candidate for Congress not only lost the endorsement of this newspaper Wednesday night when, according to witnesses, he put his hands around the throat of a reporter asking him about his health care stance, threw him to the ground and punched him — he should lose the confidence of all Montanans.”
They walked through the reasons, focusing on his lack of judgment, and landed here:
“But there is no doubt that Gianforte committed an act of terrible judgment that, if it doesn’t land him in jail, also shouldn’t land him in the U.S. House of Representatives.”
The Billings Gazette observed that this is more than an assault on the freedom of the press; it was an assault that wouldn’t be condoned in the streets let alone by someone running to be a U.S. Representative.
They called the assault “shocking, disturbing and without precedent” before announcing that they are doing something they’ve never done before in rescinding their editorial endorsement of Greg Gianforte.
“Although we’re greatly troubled by this action against a member of the media who was just doing his job, to make this an issue of media intrusion or even a passionate defense of the role of a free press during an election would be to miss the point.
“If what was heard on tape and described by eye-witnesses is accurate, the incident in Bozeman is nothing short of assault. We wouldn’t condone it if it happened on the street. We wouldn’t condone it if it happened in a home or even a late-night bar fight. And we couldn’t accept it from a man who is running to become Montana’s lone Congressional representative.”
The Billiings Gazette also acknowledged that they had wrongly written off a previous threat to a reporter as a joke by the Republican, “We’d point out that all the other questionable interactions Gianforte had with reporters, including one case where he joked about ganging up on a reporter, must now be seen through a much more sinister lens. What he passed off as a joke at the time now becomes much more serious.”
Gianforte is running against Democrat Rob Quist, who has been performing much better than expected while running on saving people’s healthcare from the Republican “UnAmerican health care plan”, but Montana is very red so the race has always favored Gianforte.
How big of a deal is this when at least one-third of voters have likely cast their ballots early, and we already know that Republicans don’t hold assault against their elected officials. After all, Donald Trump was heard on tape bragging about sexually assaulting women and that was justified as locker room talk. One of his campaign members even allegedly assaulted a female reporter on the trail.
Gianforte said it as an incredible honor to be endorsed by three of Montana’s “biggest newspapers”, naming the Billings Gazette and Missoulian among those three.
— Greg Gianforte (@GregForMontana) May 24, 2017
Greg Gianforte was finally charged Wednesday evening with misdemeanor assault after he allegedly attacked a reporter, but he didn’t go to jail. Ben Jacobs was evaluated in an ambulance and then taken to the hospital after the assault and left with his arm in a sling.
The Sheriff denied that his decision not to charge Gianforte with a felony or put him in jail had anything to do with his campaign donation to Gianforte. Even after the Republican candidate put out a misleading statement that blamed the reporter for his own actions – actions that were witnessed by a local Fox News crew, he didn’t end up in jail.
What will it say about Republican voters if they elect Gianforte after this? Gianforte’s response was to blame a “liberal reporter” — a nod to the pump Donald Trump primed during his campaign of rage. On social media, many Republicans seemed to find that excuse legitimate.
Update: Make that all three papers Gianforte was so honored to have endorsed by, as the Independent Record also rescinded their endorsement.
Noting Gianforte screaming he was so sick of this, they wrote, “We are also sick and tired – of Gianforte’s incessant attacks on the free press. In the past, he has encouraged his supporters to boycott certain newspapers, singled out a reporter in a room to point out that he was outnumbered, and even made a joke out of the notion of choking a news writer, and these are not things we can continue to brush off.” They noted that they didn’t want this to imply they were endorsing his opponents. They’re just not endorsing him anymore. OK then.
Ms. Jones is the co-founder/ editor-in-chief of PoliticusUSA and a member of the White House press pool.
Sarah hosts Politicus News and co-hosts Politicus Radio. Her analysis has been featured on several national radio, television news programs and talk shows, and print outlets including Stateside with David Shuster, as well as The Washington Post, The Atlantic Wire, CNN, MSNBC, The Week, The Hollywood Reporter, and more.
Sarah is a member of the Society of Professional Journalists.