A reporter claimed that he was body slammed by Montana House candidate Greg Gianforte on Wednesday, just one day ahead of the Montana special election.
Ben Jacobs, a liberal reporter from the Guardian entered Ginaforte’s private office uninvited while the candidate was in a separate interview with Fox News reporters (their account below.) Jacobs began badgering Greg with questions despite being asked to leave. What happened next is at the center of a new controversy.
Jacobs insists that he was body slammed.
Greg Gianforte just body slammed me and broke my glasses
— Ben Jacobs (@Bencjacobs) May 24, 2017
“I wasn’t expecting detailed policy,” Jacobs said in an MSNBC interview. “But then again I also wasn’t expecting to be body slammed.”
Gianforte’s Campaign Responds
Gianforte’s campaign released a statement with a tick-by-tick account of the encounter and it doesn’t exactly jive with the reporter’s version of events.
“The Guardian’s Ben Jacobs entered the office without permission,” the statement reads. “[Jacobs] aggressively shoved a recorder in Greg’s face and began asking badgering questions.” When the reporter declined to take the phone out of Gianforte’s face and leave the office, Greg tried to Grab the phone pushed in his face. That’s when things went sideways. “Jacobs grabbed Greg’s wrist and spun” taking them both off-balance and to the ground.
“It’s unfortunate that this aggressive behavior from a liberal journalist created this scene,” wrote campaign spokesman Shane Scanion.
Audio of the encounter has been released but does little to clear up which account is most accurate.
Fox News Reporters in the Room Recount What They Saw
Was the reporter body slammed or did Mr. Jacobs create a situation intended to harm the reputation of a Republican candidate the night before the election? Fox News has added the eyewitness report from their journalists in the room that supports Jacobs and is damning for Ginaforte [emphasis mine]:
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 him 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 man, as he moved on top the reporter and began yelling something to the effect of “I’m sick and tired of this!”
There is no way this goes well for the Republican and will likely result in the loss of a House seat.
Editor’s Note: This story was updated to add the eyewitness accounts of the Fox News reporters who were in the room at the time of the incident.