Last night, yet another bombshell news story was unfolding that typifies the chaos that is dangerously close to feeling normal in American politics. The GOP candidate for the sole Congressional seat from the great (and gorgeous) state of Montana was charged with assault after physically attacking a reporter who was asking him a question.
Greg Gianforte, a Republican running for Congress after the seat was vacated when Trump named its former occupant (Ryan Zinke) as Secretary of the Interior, was prepping for an interview with Fox when news broke about the Congressional Budget Office releasing its scoring of the GOP’s American Health Care Act. Ben Jacobs, on assignment with The Guardian newspaper, asked Mr. Gianforte a question about the breaking news, seeking his reaction.
Not wanting to answer the question, Gianforte proceeded to body slam the reporter, shove him to the ground, punch him, then told him to get the hell out. You can listen to the short exchange HERE.
The audio is damning and discredits the original explanation that Gianforte’s staff provided when asked about the altercation, namely that the reporter was aggressive and badgering. Fox News staff that was in the room provided eye witness testimony that backed up Jacob’s version of the event via Tweet last night.
So what we have here is a Congressional candidate on the eve of his election charged with assaulting a reporter. This is not normal. I repeat, this is not normal.
And yet today, it is easy to find folks throughout social media who are supporting Gianforte, calling Jacobs a “wuss,” and very happily cheering on this new America where reporters are beaten and arrested for simply doing their job, asking questions. They are paid to do this. We rely on the information they provide.
I shake my head when I think about it. I whisper now, as my husband and I discuss politics, as I don’t want the burden of having to explain the unexplainable to my sons. We live in a country where it is now just another bead in a growing chaos necklace where a Congressional candidate, running to represent every citizen of Montana, decks a reporter for calmly asking a question.
The bullies are winning.
Sixteen months ago I wrote a blog post called, “We Teach Our Kids Not to Act Like Donald Trump, and Yet He May Be Our Next President.” Well, we all know how that one turned out. Donald Trump was elected president and chaos has ensued. None of it is good. And, more and more, it feels dangerous.
The worst of it is that our kids are watching. They see it. How do we explain it to our children? What do we say about a culture that supports using violence and power to intimidate and disable reporters? I don’t have a clue. The bullies are winning and it scares me as a mother and a citizen.