Republican nominee Greg Gianforte is being accused of a physical altercation with a reporter on the eve a surprisingly tight race in the special election for Montana’s at-large congressional district.
Ben Jacobs, a reporter for The Guardian, posted what would be considered a pair of fairly unusual tweets to see in the world of U.S. political journalism. You know, because the term “body slammed” makes an appearance. (If memory serves, Jesse Ventura’s gubernatorial career was largely body slam free.)
He produced audio of the confrontation shortly afterwards. Jacobs has been covering Gianforte and filed a damning story in late April on Gianforte’s financial ties to Russian companies sanctioned by the U.S. Using information from a financial disclosure filed with the clerk of the House of Representatives, Jacobs found that Gianforte owned a shade under $250K in shares invested in the Russian economy.
“I’m sick and tired of you guys!” shouts Gianforte in the audio before what sounds physical altercation. “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?”
In addition to being slammed, Jacobs says his glasses were broken in the alleged altercation.
“He took me to the ground,” said Jacobs in The Guardian. “This is the strangest thing that has ever happened to me in reporting on politics.”
Buzzfeed reporter Alexis Levinson says she witnessed some of what happened with Jacobs and Gianforte.
Bozeman Daily Chronicle‘s Whitney Bermes reported via Twitter that Gianforte’s camp is claiming the candidate was subjected to “aggressive behavior from a liberal journalist.” In a statement, Gianforte’s campaign painting Jacobs as the bad guy in this whole affair. According to spokesperson Shane Scanlon, Jacobs grabbed Gianforte by the wrist before both parties fell to the ground.
We’ll see if an alleged bit of manthrowing will discourage any GOP voters from casting a ballot for Greg Gianforte tomorrow. Democrat Rob Quist is Gianforte’s biggest rival in the election and observers are making a fuss about how much tighter than expected this battle in the Republican stronghold has been.
(Via The Guardian)