Would-be Montana GOP Congressjerk with ties to sanctioned Russian companies beats up reporter at press-conference

Greg Gianforte is a short-tempered, hyper-conservative Montana political hopeful who is standing for the GOP in a special election for a Congressional seat; he is also invested in Russian firms that are under US sanction.

At a recent press conference, Guardian reporter Ben Jacobs asked Gianforte about the Republican healthcare plan. Gianforte went berserk, body-slamming Jacobs, punching him repeatedly, and breaking his glasses, while shouting "Get the hell out of here."

Gianforte's staff then lied about the incident, libeling Jacobs by claiming he had "entered the office without permission, aggressively shoved a recorder in Greg's face, and began asking badgering questions." None of this is borne out by multiple eyewitness accounts and a recording.

Gianforte has a hostile relationship to the press. At an American Conservatism Society meeting in April, an audience member said, "Our biggest enemy is the news media. How can we rein in the news media?" and Gianforte responded by pointing to a reporter, saying, "We have someone right here. It seems like there is more of us than there is of him."

Gianforte tried to run for the governorship of Montana in 2016, but failed. Gallatin Sheriff Brian Gootkin (who gave $250 to Gianforte's campaign) says he is investigating the incident, and requests that people stop calling the Gallatin 911 number to report it.

Fox News reporter Alicia Acuna, field producer Faith Mangan and photographer Keith Railey witnessed the incident, according to an account published by foxnews.com. After Jacobs asked Gianforte his question, Acuna wrote, "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 man, as he moved on top the reporter and began yelling something to the effect of 'I'm sick and tired of this!' … To be clear, at no point did any of us who witnessed this assault see Jacobs show any form of physical aggression toward Gianforte, who left the area after giving statements to local sheriff's deputies."

Republican candidate 'body-slams' Guardian reporter in Montana
[Julia Carrie Wong and Sam Levin/The Guardian]