In the scheme of really crappy jobs in Washington, congressman is right up there, barely edging out barista. Why anyone would want the job is a mystery, and yet, people do and actually run for it. In a special election in Montana, Greg Gianforte wanted the really crappy job.
Given the opportunity to show the kind of person he really is, Gianforte showed two things: first, that he is as crappy a person as congressman is a job, and second, he lacks the impulse control and temperament for even the crappy job of congressman.
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 this point, nothing out of the ordinary. Ben Jacobs was a reporter. He can be criticized for being pushy, but that’s part of the job description of reporter. They’re not there be polite, or to be cooperative, though it wouldn’t hurt. Some can be annoyingly tenacious. But when you’re a guy running for office, pushy reporters are merely one of the things you need to tolerate.
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!”
Gianforte is sick and tired of this? Tough nuggies. Suck it up. Instead, he assaulted Jacobs, who quickly twitted that he had been “body slammed,” though it appears that Jacobs is not a fan of sports.*
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.
This was a basic assault, for which Greg Gianforte has been cited by Gallatin County Sheriff Brian Gootkin with misdemeanor assault under MCA 45-5-201. Some have suggested that complaining to the police fell shy of what a manly Montana man would do, but so what? Jacobs isn’t a manly Montana man, and even if he was, he remains entitled to avail himself of the law.
More importantly, Gianforte doesn’t get to engage in violence because someone annoyed him.
Yet, Gianforte’s campaign doubled down following his self-indulgent resort to violence, compouded by the exceptionally stupid decision to do so in front of a Fox News team. A press release was issued that was palpably false.
Much as Gianforte demonstrated his inability to control his violent tendencies, this also proved his lack of a deep and personal relationship with truth. Even for someone running for the lowly and pathetic office of congressman, a bit of honesty matters.
Was this the biggest-deal assault ever? Hardly, but it was still an assault. Was this the worst lie ever? Hardly, but it was still a lie. Does it matter that this was an attack upon a journalist? Hardly, as no one should be physically attacked, regardless of the occupation by attacker or victim.
Should Greg Gianforte go to prison for this assault? Hardly, as it was, as assaults go, relatively petty. Then again, he shouldn’t be going to the House of Representatives either. Not even as punishment. While this may not have been the biggest deal ever in the annals of violent crime, it demonstrates clearly that Gianforte has no business in Washington. Regardless of what else comes of this misdemeanor prosecution, he should never sit in a seat in the House.
*And no snarky comments about Gianforte grabbing the pussy.