'Gianforte Grabbed Jacobs by the Neck With Both Hands and Slammed Him Into the Ground'
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Hours before the polls open to fill Montana's U.S. House of Representatives seat in a special election on Thursday, the Republican candidate for that seat physically attacked a reporter who was asking him a question about health care. To make matters worse, the candidate, Greg Gianforte, then blamed the reporter in a press release, and even sent out a fundraising email asking for help to "fight back."
If conservatives try to claim this is "fake news," they'll have to contend with the Fox News crew who were in the room when it happened.
"The race to fill Montana's sole seat in the U.S. House of Representatives took a violent turn Wednesday, and a crew from the Fox News Channel, including myself, witnessed it firsthand," Alicia Acuna, a Fox News Channel veteran reporter since 1997, said in her article detailing Wednesday night's stunning events.
Acuna reports that The Guardian's Ben Jacobs "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."
And that's when Gianforte turned violent, according to the Fox News report.
"At that point, Gianforte grabbed Jacobs by the neck with both hands and slammed him into the ground behind him," Acuna says.
Referring to her crew, she writes, "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."
Acuna continues: "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."
The Gianforte campaign issued a statement that is wildly different from the eyewitness accounts of the Fox News crew who were there in the room.
Here's the campaign's statement:
Gianforte campaign statement. pic.twitter.com/GLwN8wKEUg— Joe Perticone (@JoePerticone) May 25, 2017
It claims Ben Jacobs "entered the office without permission, aggressively shoved a recorder in Greg’s face and began asking badgering questions."
Even if that were true, that's what reporters do.
Then the statement dramatically veers away from Jacobs' account, and the Fox News report.
"Greg then attempted to grab the phone that was pushed in his face," the statement reads. "Jacobs grabbed Greg’s wrist and spun away from Greg, pushing them both to the ground," it claims. Again, Acuna stated, "at no point did any of us who witnessed this assault see Jacobs show any form of physical aggression toward Gianforte."
Just for good measure, the Gianforte campaign then says, "it's unfortunate that this aggressive behavior from a liberal journalist created this scene."
According to the Fox News report, that's just plain false.
Here are a few screenshots of the fundraising email from Gianforte:
A one two punch, so to speak? pic.twitter.com/1FhnsUze5e— john r stanton (@dcbigjohn) May 25, 2017
Gianforte's social media accounts don't even mention the attack.
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