Press "Enter" to skip to content

GOP House Candidate Assaults Reporter Night Before Election

When I first heard the news about Montana’s Republican candidate for U.S. House, Greg Gianforte, assaulting U.K. Guardian reporter Ben Jacobs in his campaign office, I was willing to entertain the notion that the story was too wild to be true.

A Republican in Montana, leading in the polls over a Democratic folk singer with an old pot arrest, physically attacks a reporter the night before the special election? Come on—that’s just begging for folks to shout, “Fake news!”

I thus turn to Fox News for corroboration:

Faith, Keith and I arrived early to set up for the interview in a room adjacent to another room where a volunteer BBQ was to take place. As the time for the interview neared, Gianforte came into the room. We exchanged pleasantries and made small talk about restaurants and Bozeman.

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 apologized. 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 [Alicia Acuna, “Greg Gianforte: Fox News Team Witnesses GOP House Candidate ‘Body Slam’ Reporter,” Fox News, 2017.05.24].

Immediately after the incident hit the press, Gianforte’s campaign issued a statement claiming that Jacobs “began asking badgering questions“:

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, pushed them both to the ground. It’s unfortunate that this aggressive behavior from a liberal journalist created this scene at our campaign volunteer BBQ [Gianforte campaign, statement, as reported in Aria Bendix, “A Montana Candidate Is Cited for Assaulting a Reporter on the Eve of Election Day,” Politico, 2017.05.25].

Unless Fox News is part of the Marxist fake news conspiracy against America, Gianforte is lying.

The Gallatin County Sheriff’s Office has charged Gianforte for misdemeanor assault. The Billings Gazette, the Helena Independent Record, and the Missoulian have all rescinded their endorsements of conservative millionaire Gianforte, who last month made a sinister joke about reining in the media with mob violence.

On the eve of his election, Gianforte has demonstrated a disregard for law, contempt for the free press, an inability to manage the stress of what should have been an easy campaign, and an unfitness for office, all in one inexcusable outburst of violence.


  1. barry freed 2017-05-25

    He doesn’t believe we should collect on the Social Security we have paid for all of our lives. “Noah built the Ark at age 600, he didn’t lay around” That, and Dinosaurs were on the Ark with Noah.

  2. mike from iowa 2017-05-25

    Wingnut thug will prolly win in a landslide.

  3. Rorschach 2017-05-25

    Reminds me of GOP Party New York Congressman Michael Grimm who threatened to throw a reporter off of a balcony:

    Gianforte completely flipped out. Makes me wonder if he beats his wife or his kids. He then assumed that because it was Fox News in the room that he could lie about it and they would back him up. Hopefully this incident shows enough Montana voters who he is to keep him from winning.

  4. Dana P 2017-05-25

    This is and continues to be astounding. The political dodge he could have given was easy. “Hey, I have been so busy campaigning, I haven’t had time to read the CBO report”. Instead, the entitled billionaire with investment ties to Russia, decides to commit an criminal act.

    I’m worried about the early votes in Montana for this guy. And I’m also worried that many folks will actually like and endorse this type of behavior. (MFI, I hope you are wrong, but I’m worried you are not)

  5. Rorschach 2017-05-25

    And good job by the Montana Sheriff, who had previously donated $250 to the Gianforte campaign, to charge him with assault and to charge him immediately rather than waiting till after election day. Reporters doing their job. Law enforcement doing their job.

  6. mike from iowa 2017-05-25

    Bad news for the Dem- nearly two thirds of the votes had already been cast (early voting) and the thug was leading by 6 points. I’m still hoping for the best.

  7. John Kennedy Claussen, Sr. 2017-05-25

    This tragic incident is an other example of how Trump has empowered the lower case “kkk” in some. Whether it be this, Turkey security forces beating up demonstrators in DC, Trump praising Philippine President Duterte’s who has committed obvious human rights violations, or constantly berating the media, the age of Trump is sadly continuing to make former Senator Gordon Humphrey of New Hampshires comment referring to Trump supporters as “brownshirts” increasingly more and more relevant everyday:

  8. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2017-05-25

    The incident does suggest how potent the health care issue is. Quist has been hammering Gianforte over health care. Gianforte knows the issue could turn Montana voters against him. That unnerves him enough to beat up a reporter who asked about the CBO scoring of the House health care bill. Read more on this strand of the story at Vox.

    We can drive Republicans to distraction on health care. We can beat them in 2018 on this issue alone.

  9. Porter Lansing 2017-05-25

    When SoDak gets mail in ballots or when you vote absentee, some say it’s often better to wait until as late as you can to mail it in. Weird stuff happens, especially when extremist social conservatives are involved.

  10. grudznick 2017-05-25

    This is why we should ban early voting. If you can’t get to the polls on election day, or have somebody bring the polls to you, you don’t get to vote.

  11. Porter Lansing 2017-05-25

    Exactly right,Grudzie ….. if you fill out your mail in ballot and take it to a polling place and drop it off on Election Day, you save time that you could be using to talk to the neighbors … and that’s important. 😊

  12. John 2017-05-25

    What the heck is wrong with Montana?! Have Montanans no decency?!

  13. Bob Newland 2017-05-25

    Grudznick’s comment illustrates why Cory should ban grudznick. POS.

  14. Jon 2017-05-26

    We will soon see how far the alt right and Trump will go in this country. Are we going to see outspoken reporters imprisoned or murdered. Trump sure seems happiest when in the presence of dictators whether they be Chinese, Russian, or from the Philippines he just can’t find enough good things to say about the way they do business. On the other hand he sure goes out of his way to treat our NATO democratic friends with disrespect. How far does this go?

  15. Rorschach 2017-05-26

    I’m glad you brought up NATO, Jon. The best thing Trump did on this trip is publicly shame NATO members for shirking their mutual responsibilities to fund NATO. Trump was right that when these countries act as free riders they are being unfair to American taxpayers who end up paying America’s share and the shares of these other countries’ taxpayers. The bottom line is that to receive benefits in a mutual benefit organization countries must meet their shares of the mutual responsibilities.

  16. Darin Larson 2017-05-26

    He could body slam a reporter in the middle of fifth avenue and still get elected.

  17. mike from iowa 2017-05-26

    The body slamming thug got elected. Let us see how fast wingnuts seat him. He did apologize for the reporter assaulting him.

  18. jerry 2017-05-26

    Mr. Rorschach, you are full of beans on this NATO bit. Maybe we should get out of NATO so we would not spend so much in defense. Maybe we should just isolate ourselves like we did in those other wars called one and two just to see if the third time is the charm. Under Article 5, NATO came to our aid in 2001 as the test of what happens when one country is attacked and how the rest of the members will defend. Not only did all the members come through with their treaty obligations, they continue to do so. They all had loss of life in Afghanistan and Iraq as well. BTW, the change of contribution was initiated in 2014 with full compliance to be done by 2024 so they are technically fulfilling their requirements.

    As you seem to be saying, shut the bases down in Europe completely. Send the troops home. By doing so we should be able to cut the military spending by at least 75% (a few trillion for sure) to make it small enough you can drown it in a bathtub. Russia has one aircraft carrier, China has a former russian one, and russia is kicking our arse (they took over America without firing a shot). Without NATO, we would not need to have all those ships, sailors, marines and Ellsworth. More tax relief for the the wealthy too! So there ya go. trump let the cat out of the bag for sure as wanting to close down NATO, by not participating in Article 5, that is essentially the whole reason for NATO. trump also wants to selectively trade with countries in the EU without considering the fact that there is an EU. By allowing the EU and NATO to fail, that brings in our new pal putin to take over. Not a good thing for the world and not a good thing for China. Let China take over our position as the policeman of the world so we can then start to manufacture Imperials and other behemoths for the road. Those damn Europeans anyway, with their stupid ideas of climate change and wanting to save the planet with renewable energy and then have the audacity to invite American researchers to France, of all places, to continue their work. Like you would want to move to France with its public health, public transportation, great beer, wine, food variety…Sounds so Un American. Build that wall, starting north though. That Trudeau, has a better handshake than that of our emperor, and must be stopped. Same goes for Macron in France, that boy gave our emperor the white knuckle treatment in their handshake, funny to me, but that is how I roll.

  19. jimmy james 2017-05-26

    And then yesterday we had the President himself performing a Lewandowski on the Montenegrin Prime Minister. Maybe that was another of his brilliant distractions. Trump needed to draw attention away from the latest CBO score of his healthcare initiative just like the Montana millionaire.

  20. Rorschach 2017-05-26

    Jerry, I don’t think you read the article from The Economist that you linked in your comment. If you had you would know that NATO members agreed in 2006 that each country would spend 2% GDP on defense. At the time, 6 countries met that threshold. Now, only 5 countries meet the threshold. In 2014, NATO countries reiterated a commitment to spend 2% of GDP on defense and set a target date of 2024 for free riders to ramp it up. Some aren’t ramping it up – like Germany. Once again, all NATO members agreed to the 2% number in 2006, and there are fewer countries meeting that number today than there were in 2006, with the USA picking up the difference for ALL of the free riders. That’s not acceptable.

    Let’s say you bought a lake house with your relatives, Jerry. Each agreed to each pay a percentage of your income toward the payment. Then let’s say your brother moved into the lake house and insisted you pay his share of the mortgage and he’ll just pay the utilities. And he insisted that you have to mow the lawn and put food in the fridge for him. Would you remain silent?

  21. mike from iowa 2017-05-26

    How many NATO member’s economies have be in the tank in recent years, Ror? The US could pay everyone’s share and wingnuts would still demand more defense spending so they can keep getting re-elected.

  22. mike from iowa 2017-05-26

    jimmie james-that is carpetbagger Montana billionaire with a b.

  23. mike from iowa 2017-05-26

    Speaking of assault- in Afghanistan Americans assaulted a building with 2 snipers and they calculated what was needed to take out the snipers and leave the building intact. Long story short there were 105 civilians and apparently a stash of explosives that leveled the building killing all the civilians and who knows about the snipers.

    We’d do better making friends with Kool-Aid.

  24. jerry 2017-05-26

    I did read the article and I do see the time frame in which it has to be completed. For the record, this is 2017 not 2024. trump and you are way ahead of yourselves. There is an alternative though, cut military spending by 75%, give Europe to putin, forget about the Mid East, as we can do it alone. Close the hospitals in Germany and the black sites as well there and other places in Europe and just think of building walls between the US and Mexico and Canada. If we do not want to be the top cop on the block, fine and dandy, China already deals there, let them take that responsibility. It would be one helluva investment for them that is for sure.

    Regarding the relatives at the lake house, I would move and let them have it. Then I would inflate the value, declare the loss on my taxes and get a huuuuuuge refund, just like the wealthy do, or declare bankruptcy.

  25. jerry 2017-05-26

    American taxpayers pay about 200 to 300 million dollars each year to NATO, or about the same amount as we now pay for trumps romps in Florida. So we can help prevent more American soldier cemeteries in Europe with our continued support for a stable safe Europe or we can lie about our position. Whatever the case, Europe gets the idea that trump has sold us out to putin.

  26. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2017-05-26

    Gianforte’s election is an alarming affirmation of Trumpist fascism. We journalists and patriots will have to work even harder now to defend ourselves and our country from Trump thuggery.

  27. Rorschach 2017-05-26

    I don’t think you’re as dense as you make out, Jerry. The NATO agreement of 2006 says that everybody needs to pay their fair share, which is 2% of GDP. It didn’t say that everybody can free ride on the backs of American taxpayers until 2014 or 2024. Most of these European countries have made no effort to pay the amount they agreed is their fair share. They are now, and have from the beginning, acted in bad faith contrary to the 2006 agreement. This fact angered President Obama as much as it does President Trump. Go ahead and google that if you want. If Trump shakes them up enough to start ponying up then good for him. It’s about time somebody got serious about the mutuality of NATOs mutual obligations.

  28. happy camper 2017-05-26

    He’s incapable of being challenged or questioned and totally overreacts, kind of like the comment section around here. Cory objectifies violence when it suits him.

  29. jerry 2017-05-26

    BTW, I could see an angry Black man in Berlin with Angela and about 70,000 Germans that did not seem to angry with him for whatever. Sounds like the anger President Obama was delivering was for the EU to hold together when they were facing tough economic choices at home. Fellows, you do realize that there is still large parts of the EU that is still suffering very high unemployment rates. The refugee plight is also putting a hamper on funding thanks to a
    fiasco called Iraq. Who started that thing anyway? Come to think of it, I would like to see some of our military spending go to helping the displaced we have uprooted from their native areas, then we can bitch all we want to.

  30. Jon 2017-05-26

    Rorschach–I thought I should respond to your thoughts on NATO countries paying their fair share. I think they should to as have most past presidents. I will say that most of these NATO nations do other things to provide for the security of their citizens that we do not do. I am referring to providing very good health care at a low cost. This is a security issue for families in this country because you can work your whole life for a family business and have it taken away because of the high expense of a medical emergency. Before the affordable care act the most common cause of bankruptcy in this country was a family medical emergency and 50% of those bankruptcies were from people who had insurance. So maybe our president should be grandstanding to our medical corporations that sell their drugs at reduced prices throughout the world because other countries force them to negotiate the prices of their drugs. While at the same time our own corporations turn around and charge our own citizens whatever price the market can bare. Maybe we should be talking to our NATO friends about how they meet their citizens health care security needs along with their military security needs.

  31. jerry 2017-05-26

    The Article 5 Clause of the NATO charter is what trump is most upset about as it deals with Ukraine, who is a member of NATO. If russia attacks Ukraine, NATO will have to step in like it did when America was attacked on September 11, 2001. trump has a lot at stake to keep this Article from being initiated if Ukraine is attacked. We have been playing a chess game with russia for decades now to keep the lid on another possible war in Europe. The place is not so distant. Also, pay close attention to this 2014 directive that underscores the need for unity from all members including payments towards their own security.

  32. jerry 2017-05-26

    True that Jon, our republican friends will tell us that we cannot afford the ACA/Obamacare and we have a president who says the same thing while blustering in a Europe not only provides for its own people, but also for the displaced we have sent to them with our wars of choice. He then tells all that NATO is no longer needed and neither is the EU. I fail to see how that will encourage nations that are enduring several terrorist attacks along with the expenses that go with them into paying more. Only a successful bankruptcy king would know how to do that.

  33. jerry 2017-05-26

    America has not even paid for this fiasco, 6 trillion with a T and counting. But the dude in Montana will get his million buck credit from the killing of healthcare for our people. Ah yes, the good old days when we were told to forgetaboutit and go to the mall. Then the bills started to come and the deficit, anyone remember that old gag, well it is coming back at ya, only worse. Because we have been deadbeats and not taking care of our business at hand we only want to take from government, we get a little ouchy when we have to support it. Sounds familiar.

  34. grudznick 2017-05-26

    I blame the reporter.

  35. Adam 2017-05-27

    Cory, I want you to get a bodyguard for when you interview sketchy temperamental potential psychopath Republicans because in rural states they have now been emboldened to copy cat the behavior of the very successful U.S. Congressman Greg Gianforte. I know a bodyguard seems expensive, but journalism might now have become a pay-to-play industry when it comes to security and safety of reporters.

    If you think choke slamming journalists could only happen in Montana, I want you to consider how similar our Republicans are to theirs.

    And so journalism just got more expensive because now reporters all need bodyguards for rural Republican interviews. I’m tell ya, they’ve been emboldened by Trump and Gianforte – crazy people who need to figure out what the hell Jesus is actually trying to teach them!

  36. barry freed 2017-05-27

    I was surprised by the high pitched voice of Ben Jacobs.

    GG apologized at a press conference, where, for some strange reason, everyone stood next to an emergency exit, and from the audience we hear Mr. Jacobs instantly, as though staged, say:
    “You’re forgiven!”.

    One can tell from GG’s rhetoric that this was something he was building himself up to doing. He got positive reinforcement from the Republican echo chamber when he threatened assault. Their lack of any disapproval, suggesting that many agreed with his hate and solution to his frustrations, finally gave him the courage to attack a smaller man when the man wasn’t looking.

  37. jerry 2017-05-27

    Mr. Freed, this is kind of a metaphor of the new tribalism of the republican party, “suggesting that many agreed with his hate and solution to his frustrations, finally gave him the courage to attack a smaller man when the man wasn’t looking.” I think you have nailed it sir. You can insert women, elderly, children, disabled, gay, lesbian, especially darkies, even to include native Americans born here, as the “smaller man when the man wasn’t looking” into how this tribalism politics now is working in America. Trouble is, we were looking and have watched the slow drip of this coup taking place since about 1980. We have watched it with much denial. Well, here we go. Of course we can see what happens when there is one party rule so it is not hard to make the jump between Pierre and Washington.

    GG was exposed in the Guardian for profiting from his dealings not only with mother russia, but also his profiteering from his business dealings with ISIS itself. Another proud moment for the new tribal republican party, where the bottom lining of the pocket is all the patriotism you need. Memorial Day is for sales, those guys and gals died a long time ago or we simply do not hear so much about death anymore regarding our military. That is because we really do not know who is military and who is civilian contractor that are being lost in the sandbox and really whose checkbook they were dying under. We only know that we are in debt for abut 6 Trillion Dollars and counting more each second.

  38. jerry 2017-05-27

    Why are GG’s russia ties so important? Here is what we are waking to this Memorial Day weekend: From the Washington Post

    “Jared Kushner and Russia’s ambassador to Washington discussed the possibility of setting up a secret and secure communications channel between Trump’s transition team and the Kremlin, using Russian diplomatic facilities in an apparent move to shield their pre-inauguration discussions from monitoring, according to U.S. officials briefed on intelligence reports.

    Ambassador Sergey Kislyak reported to his superiors in Moscow that Kushner, son-in-law and confidant to then-President-elect Trump, made the proposal during a meeting on Dec. 1 or 2 at Trump Tower, according to intercepts of Russian communications that were reviewed by U.S. officials. Kislyak said Kushner suggested using Russian diplomatic facilities in the United States for the communications.

    The meeting also was attended by Michael Flynn, Trump’s first national security adviser.

    Kislyak reportedly was taken aback by the suggestion of allowing an American to use Russian communications gear at its embassy or consulate — a proposal that would have carried security risks for Moscow as well as the Trump team.”

    Now we understand why trump wants to nix NATO, and eliminate the European Union. This is all for Russia, this is the Russian dream of world dominance, always always has been. Even our own elected people here in South Dakota see nothing wrong with this. Not one of them have come out and condemned what we all now know. Wonder how Nelson, the Marine feels about the coup we are seeing. They all go along with it because they are gonna get a tax break. Money trumps patriotism in their new tribalism society.

  39. Adam 2017-05-28

    We all need to expand our definition of “sketchy temperamental potential psychopath Republicans.”

    That’s the lesson here.

  40. Porter Lansing 2017-05-29

    BEST OF … Friday Night Troy –
    Troy Jones
    May 26, 2017 at 10:07 pm
    I think part of the problem in so many segments is boys (and men) are no longer allowed to “take it out back.”
    This reporter and too many people face-to-face and online get away with crap that can be ended with a punch in the mouth.
    Anonymous :
    May 27, 2017 at 10:47 am
    Is that how you keep your women quiet too Troy? You “take them out back” and learn them lessons? How barbaric with the simpleton thinking here.
    May 27, 2017 at 9:30 am
    Troy said: “This reporter and too many people face-to-face and online get away with crap that can be ended with a punch in the mouth.”
    Apparently Troy thinks that physical violence is an appropriate response to a tough question.
    Troy’s feelings get hurt by words and he wants to punch you in the mouth.
    Who’s the snowflake again?

  41. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2017-05-29

    Absolutely appalling, Porter. The press doing its job in no way invites “taking it out back.” Candidates (and now, Gaia help us, elected officials) who cannot solve difficult issues with words and ideas have no place in public decision-making.

  42. Porter Lansing 2017-05-29

    Where I live the snow is so light it can be blown away with a sneeze. Who’s the snowflake, Mr. Jones?

  43. barry freed 2017-06-10

    After receiving numerous death threats, the Reporter just settled. Not the settlement I would have chosen.

    Taking it out back would be fine if both parties were in agreement and ready, but GG would not fight under those conditions. Were it the Reporter who assaulted him the same way, the Reporter would have garnered a Felony Assault. So the assault charge is gone, but what about his filing a false police report?

    My settlement would have GG fight for charity with the Reporter of my choosing.
    Then I would choose a reporter from: “Fashion Police”, such as Laila Ali ( Muhammad’s daughter).

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.