In the wake of Montana Republican congressional candidate Greg Gianforte’s alleged assault of a reporter Wednesday, all three of the state’s largest newspapers have withdrawn their endorsements of him. The papers, which include the Billings Gazette, Missoulian, and Independent Record, pulled their support within hours of the shocking incident, which came on the eve of Montana’s special election to fill the seat of Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke.
— Billings Gazette (@billingsgazette) May 25, 2017
— missoulian (@missoulian) May 25, 2017
— helenaironline (@helenaironline) May 25, 2017
“If what was heard on tape and described by eye-witnesses is accurate, the incident in Bozeman is nothing short of assault,” an editorial from the Billings Gazette read. “We wouldn’t condone it if it happened on the street. We wouldn’t condone it if it happened in a home or even a late-night bar fight. And we couldn’t accept it from a man who is running to become Montana’s lone Congressional representative.”
Gianforte had touted the newspapers’ endorsements in a campaign video as recently as Wednesday morning.
— Greg Gianforte (@GregForMontana) May 24, 2017
On Wednesday evening, Guardian news reporter Ben Jacobs approached the GOP candidate with a question regarding the American Health Care Act. According to audio of their exchange, Gianforte quickly grew irritated by the question. Loud thuds can also be heard in the recording. Jacobs contacted the police and Gianforte was charged with assault for allegedly “body-slamming” him.
Shane Scanlon, a spokesman for the Republican candidate, released a statement calling Jacobs a “liberal reporter” and accused him of exhibiting “aggressive behavior.” However, three Fox reporters who witnessed the alleged attack confirmed Jacobs’ account and said they saw Gianforte grab Jacobs by the neck before pummeling him on the ground.
— Alexander Kaufman (@AlexCKaufman) May 25, 2017
It remains to be seen, however, whether Gianforte’s alleged actions will have an effect on today’s race. Because of Montana’s absentee voter laws, most expected voters have already cast their ballots.