Republican House Candidate Body-Slams Reporter, Proving We Really Do Live in a WWE World
A Republican politician running for national office was just caught on tape doing something really bad. Sound familiar?
However, this time it's not Donald Trump bragging about his sexual-assault techniques. Instead, it's Greg Gianforte, a Montanan running for the House of Representatives. On Wednesday (May 24), Gianforte allegedly body-slammed and punched reporter Ben Jacobs of The Guardian. Though the men were behind a partially closed door, there were three other people in the room at the time and the incident was caught on audio.
Jacobs claims Gianforte attacked him, body-slamming him and breaking his glasses, after he tried to ask Gianforte a question about the Republican health care bill in Washington. Gianforte has not responded publicly, but his spokesman issued a statement:
After asking Jacobs to lower the recorder, Jacobs declined. Greg then attempted to grab the phone that was pushed in his face. Jacobs grabbed Greg’s wrist, and spun away from Greg, pushing them both to the ground. It’s unfortunate that this aggressive behavior from a liberal journalist created this scene at our campaign volunteer BBQ.
This, however, does not square with what witnesses claim they saw. A reporting team from Fox News (not exactly known for their "liberal journalists") was there, and they back up Jacobs' claims. Alicia Acuna had this to say:
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!'
So yeah, someone here is lying. Police have since charged Gianforte with misdemeanor assault, but the election is today—meaning Gianforte could feasibly win the seat in Congress, then have to return home to go to court and/or jail. Politics!
Back in the fall, when the Access Hollywood "Grab them by the p---- tape" was leaked, Trump and his allies dismissed it as mere "locker room talk." Gianforte's alleged assault shows that same mentality has now expanded to "locker room behavior," à la high school bullies. Now we are in the midst of our national politics completing its transformation from boring pablum to full-on professional wrestling, and not just because Donald Trump literally performed on the WWE. Meanwhile, Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson claims he is seriously considering running for president in 2020. And he could possibly win, too: He leads Trump in the polls by five points.
While we contemplate the collapse of statesmanship, let's poke around the Twitterverse to see how folks are reacting to all this. First up, the celebs:
Meh, kinda boring, really. Maybe Hollywood is a little worried they won't be the world's biggest stars much longer, once the politicians slide into SmackDown mode.
Let's see what Gianforte's fellow politicians have to say, starting with his home-state senator, Steve Daines:
And now, here's Governor Steve Bullock:
Meanwhile, back in Washington, the top Republican in Congress, speaker of the House Paul Ryan, took a bold stance:
Elsewhere, the spokesman for the National Republican Congressional Committee, which raises money for candidates like Gianforte, decided to take a "Who among us hasn't physically assaulted someone we disagreed with?" approach:
Two GOP congressmen, Louie Gohmert of Texas and Trent Franks of Arizona, don't seem to take the incident all that seriously. Franks even manages to blame "the left," rather than the guy who did the actual (alleged) body-slamming.
And this is from Duncan Hunter (R., Calif.), who, by the way, is under criminal investigation:
It's possible, as Representative Mark Sanford (R., S.C.) points out, that the election of a man like Donald Trump as president has something to do with the way Gianforte's alleged behavior is being treated.
We've seen what Gianforte's colleagues think, now let's turn to Jacobs' fellow scribes and pundits. This, from Business Insider's Josh Barro, seems like an accurate take (though we still prefer WWE to high school):
Or maybe it should really be junior high:
The Weekly Standard's Bill Kristol connects the dots from Trump to Gianforte:
Liberal Washington Post columnist E. J. Dionne also correlates the incident to Trump, below:
And now to the broader GOP...
As always, it's important to look at things from both sides:
And from different angles:
Rick Wilson, a conservative commentator, had a thread starting here that's worth reading all the way through:
And at least one Montana voter found Gianforte's actions not childish or unnecessarily violent, but instead worthy of her vote!3
Congratulations, Vince McMahon. World Wrestling Entertainment is now just "The World."
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