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Last night, we heard what Greg Gianforte -- the billionaire Republican nominee for today's election for Montana's sole House seat -- does when there are witnesses present. (We're not saying, but we're just saying: Has anyone checked on his wife?) According to Guardian reporter Ben Jacobs, who you can hear was clearly in shock, Gianforte "bodyslammed" Jacobs when he asked whether yesterday's late-breaking CBO score would give Gianforte pause in supporting the Republicans' American Health Care Act (AHCA). A Fox News crew that was present -- also in shock -- wrote afterward that they all watched as Gianforte did slightly more than that: According to them, he grabbed Jacobs by the neck and threw him to the ground, and then started punching him.
When you know to listen for them, you can hear the thwacks.
And California Republican Rep. Duncan Hunter had some thoughts:
Asked if assaulting a reporter is appropriate behavior, California Rep. Duncan Hunter said, "Of course not. It's not appropriate behavior. Unless the reporter deserved it."
Who would have thought a Fox News crew would end up as Jacobs's Fair Witness Cavendish?
Alicia Acuna's firsthand report for Fox -- which Fox played prominently on its website -- was enough for both the Billings Gazette and The Missoulian (a rightwing paper despite its headquarters in the People's Republic of Missoula) to #undorse.
We hope our fellow Montanans who haven’t already cast their ballots will say loud and clear at the polls Thursday that Greg Gianforte is not the man we want representing us in Washington. He does not represent Montana values and he should not represent us in Congress.
We’re putting our trust in your good sense.
We're at a loss for words.
And as people who wrangle words on a minute-by-minute basis, that doesn't happen often.
What happens even less — hopefully never again — a Montana candidate assaulting a reporter. While there are still questions left unanswered about GOP House hopeful Greg Gianforte's altercation with Guardian reporter Ben Jacobs, eyewitness accounts, law enforcement investigations and records are all shocking, disturbing and without precedent.
That's why The Billings Gazette editorial board is also doing something without precedent: We're rescinding our editorial endorsement of Greg Gianforte.
"Following multiple interviews and an investigation by the Gallatin County Sheriff’s Office it was determined there was probable cause to issue a citation to Greg Gianforte for misdemeanor assault (MCA 45-5-201). The nature of the injuries did not meet the statutory elements of felony assault. Greg Gianforte received a citation on Wednesday night and is scheduled to appear in Gallatin County Justice Court between now and June 7, 2017."
45-5-202. Aggravated assault. (1) A person commits the offense of aggravated assault if the person purposely or knowingly causes serious bodily injury to another or purposely or knowingly, with the use of physical force or contact, causes reasonable apprehension of serious bodily injury or death in another.
(2) A person convicted of aggravated assault shall be imprisoned in the state prison for a term not to exceed 20 years and may be fined not more than $50,000, except as provided in 46-18-219 and 46-18-222.
We are Not A Lawyer, but that second part seems relevant.
The sheriff, Brian Gootkin, also said that his $250 campaign donation to Gianforte would not impact his investigation, which was clearly proceeding slooowly: Gootkin said at a press conference that he had yet to listen to recorded audio of the beatdown, at least an hour after it had already been widely published online. He also let Gianforte leave the scene of the assault without arrest, despite the presence of eyewitnesses whom he apparently also hadn't yet interviewed.
Said the Gianforte campaign:
"Tonight, as Greg was giving a separate interview in a private office, The Guardian's Ben Jacobs entered the office without permission, aggressively shoved a recorder in Greg's face, and began asking badgering questions. Jacobs was asked to leave. 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."
Said everyone in the entire world: You fucking kidding us with this shit?
Except the local NBC affiliate, KTVM, which said,
[Sheriff] Gootkin also said there is no evidence of a video to verify the incident as previously reported by other news outlets.
NBC Montana takes pride in reporting only verifiable facts from independent reliable sources, officials and documents, regardless of what is reported by other media outlets. The only verifiable facts are what is being stated by the Gallatin County sheriff at this time.
Oh dear, KTVM news director, that is ... not how journalism actually works.
[Update: the station is owned by the fine journalists of Sinclair Broadcasting. So don't expect it to do anything less than refuse to give you any information ever.]
Said Wonkette to her fellow Montanans: y'all know we got same-day voter registration, right? See you at the polls.
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