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GOP US House candidate Gianforte still hasn’t apologized 24 hours after assaulting reporter

It’s been nearly 24 hours since GOP US House candidate from Montana, Greg Gianforte, brutally assaulted Ben Jacobs, a reporter with the Guardian newspaper, in front of three witnesses while Jacobs was recording audio of the attack.

And in all that time, Gianforte has still not apologize to Jacobs for sending him to the hospital.

This all came about because Jacobs walked into a room where Gianforte was about to be interviewed by the local Fox affiliate. Jacobs asked Gianforte what his position on the GOP House health care bill was, now that the Congressional Budget Office had just released its analysis of the bill. (Gianforte had said he wouldn’t take a position until CBO had spoken.) Gianforte refused to say, adding that they could talk about it later. Jacobs rightfully noted that “later” would be too late (the election was the next day).

According to Jacobs and the three witnesses from Fox News, Gianforte then put his hands around Jacobs’ next to choke him, lifted Jacobs off the ground and slammed him on the ground. But Gianforte wasn’t finished. The Fox team says the congressman-wannabe then jumped on Jacobs and started punching him.

Here’s how the Fox News team described it:

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.

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!”

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. At that point, I told him and Scanlon, who was now present, that we needed a moment. The men then left.

What’s particularly disturbing when you listen to the audio of the attack, below, is Gianforte’s tone. He’s emotionally out-of-control. It’s not normal, particularly under this circumstance in which Jacobs was quite mild-mannered in his questioning. There was no reason for Gianforte to freak out.

What’s more, Gianforte assaulted Jacobs in front of three witnesses. Not that you should ever assault anyone (Gianforte has been officially charged with assault by the police), but most people would think twice before strangling someone, body slamming them, and then jumping on them and repeatedly punching their face — in front of witnesses. Even if you lack a psychopath who lacks any self-control whatsoever, you’d think twice before pummeling someone in front of witnesses, let alone witnesses who are themselves reporters — and doing it on the eve of your big election. How messed up do you have to be in order to do this, particularly under these circumstances?

We should know this evening whether Greg Gianforte or his Democratic opponent Rob Quist wins the special election for the local seat. To date, few Republicans have been willing to criticize Gianforte, other than suggesting that he perhaps apologize to the man he sent to the hospital. But there’s a larger issue here: The question of what the Republican party has become in recent years, particularly under the stewardship of Donald Trump, but really something that goes all the way back to the creation of Fox News. The GOP has become the party of divisiveness, pitting Americans against one another, and not really standing for much of anything any more, other than money, and now under Trump, bullying.

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