As everyone knows by now, Grapplin’ Greg Gianforte won the open congressional seat in Montana Thursday despite assaulting a member of the press hours before the polls opened. It’s only one seat in Congress (Montana only gets one) but it’s a sad and far-reaching commentary on political discourse and antipathy toward the press in the age of Trump.
But keep this in mind: Paul Ryan and the Republicans in Congress are now stuck with an albatross around their collective neck. Like it or not, whether it gets attention or not, Gianforte now has to face assault charges as he prepares to be seated. Unless “Montana justice” is different from the rest of the country, he’ll be convicted. Already facing problems with health care and Russia, is Ryan, et al. willing to look the other way on a conviction?
Also, Gianforte should have cruised to victory in this race. Trump won the state by 20 points. Grapplin’ Greg won by six points.
Gianforte not only physically assaulted Ben Jacobs of the Guardian, his campaign put out an outrageous statement about the assault. It was a complete lie.
Gianforte’s statement: pic.twitter.com/WVNdA1yZ8w
— Kyle Cheney (@kyledcheney) May 25, 2017
The attack was witnesses by a FOX News crew. So either Gianforte and his campaign are either monumentally stupid or thought because the crew was from Republicans’ favorite network, they’d fall in line and back Gianforte’s lies. The reporter with FOX went on to write a first-person account of the incident backing Jacobs and contradicting Gianforte.
We can tell an awful lot about what this assault says about our common decency, respect for the First Amendment and what is now acceptable in our Democracy.
Gianforte apologized for his actions and to Jacobs only after he won. He said he “made a mistake.” Sorry there, Rich Uncle Pennybags but a “mistake” is throwing an 0-2 fastball down the middle of the plate; it’s choosing not to campaign in Wisconsin, Pennsylvania or Michigan. This was an assault that showed the perpetrator to be unequipped to be in Congress and nothing more than a common thug.
(I have been trying to figure out how to put this so as not to be advocating for the same thing of which Gianforte and other Republicans are guilty. Not all reporters are slight of frame and naturally reserved. I would like to see a politician bully a reporter who will have none of it. Let’s leave it at that.)
How did other folks react to the body slam? Speaker Ryan was probably the “harshest,” saying Gianforte should apologize. Ryan is rejecting any call to consider not seating the joke-slamming Gianforte. (Before anyone gets all up on me for even implying that’s possible, know that from 1869 to 1900, the House refused to sit more than 30 Southern Democrats for various reasons.)
“Rep.-elect Gianforte is an outsider with real-world experience creating jobs in Montana. He will bring that experience to Congress, where he will be a valuable voice in the House Republican Conference,” Ryan said. One would think he could particularly valuable on any committee taking testimony from SBA Administrator Linda McMahon.
President simply said, “Great win in Montana.” Vice President Mike Pence refused to comment. That’s where we’re at? The vice president of the United States has no comment on an incoming member of the US House of Representatives physically slamming a member of the press to the ground?
Influential conservative media commentator Brent Bozell had this to say:
Jacobs is an obnoxious, dishonest first class jerk. I’m not surprised he got smacked.
— Brent Bozell (@BrentBozell) May 25, 2017
Bozell is another one who needs an old fashioned “Dave Shultz job.”
Why might some politicians now think it’s ok to attack a member of the press?
By the way, the question Jacobs was asking Gianforte when he was attacked was about the Republican’s reaction on the latest GOP “repeal and replace” of Obamacare now that the Congressional Budget Office came out with score. The Congressman-elect still hasn’t answered it.