[guest post by Dana]
Yesterday it was announced that newly-elected congressman from Montana, Greg Gianforte will plead guilty to assault charges resulting from an altercation with Guardian reporter Ben Jacobs last month. In spite of Jacobs saying “he would not object to Gianforte entering a no contest plea,” the Gallatin County Attorney told reporters that Gianforte will nonetheless plead guilty. Gianforte would face a maximum of six months in jail and a $500 fine if found guilty.
Earlier this week, Gianforte wrote Jacobs a letter of apology, as well as informing Jacobs that he would be making a $50,000 donation to the Committee to Protect Journalists, a nonprofit group that works to protect the rights of journalists everywhere while defending their right “to report the news without fear of reprisal”.
“As both a candidate for office and a public official, I should be held to a high standard in my interactions with the press and the public. My treatment of you did not meet that standard,” Gianforte wrote.
“I understand the critical role that journalists and the media play in our society,” Gianforte wrote. “Protections afforded to the press through the Constitution are fundamental to who we are as a nation and the way government is accountable to the people.”
“I acknowledge that the media have an obligation to seek information,” Gianforte continued. “I also know that civility in our public discourse is central to a productive dialogue on issues. I had no right to respond the way I did to your legitimate question about healthcare policy. You were doing your job.”
Jacobs has accepted Gianforte’s apology:
“I have accepted Mr. Gianforte’s apology and his willingness to take responsibility for his actions and statements. I hope the constructive resolution of this incident reinforces for all the importance of respecting the freedom of the press and the First Amendment and encourages more civil and thoughtful discourse in our country.”
Sending a letter of apology was the right thing for Gianforte to do. Unfortunately, given how many on the right defended Gianforte in the altercation because it was “just desserts” for years of the liberal elite media attacking and maligning Republicans, it wouldn’t be surprising if this mockery was actually the very real reaction of the same people to Gianforte upon reading his apology:
Manly masculine man Greg Gianforte disappointed his ancestors, the right-wing movement, and betrayed Trump in the worst way possible when today he apologized to the reporter he “body-slammed,” in a weepy, wimpy statement.
Clearly he doesn’t want to make America great ever!!
But it wasn’t payback to the media. Not at all. It was just someone in a position of power losing his temper and making a very bad decision. The same writer mocking those who defended Gianforte’s actions, gets to the heart of the matter: “This is what happens when you love your political tribe more than you love truth, or honesty, or decency.”
As I opined here,
I guess assault is now considered okay, if it’s your side that felt provoked. Like, oh, we didn’t have a choice, we had to shove, hit, grab by the neck, whatever. WE HAD NO CHOICE! Whether it’s an annoying reporter provoking a politician, or a politician provoking a colleagues on the other side of the aisle, it’s unacceptable to react in this manner. Can we just dispense with making excuses for any of them: Gianforte’s assault on Ben Jacobs was simply how Montanans settle things. Nevarez shoving Rinaldi is just how Texans (or Hispanic males) settle things. We should be irate as hell that our elected officials in the seats of power believe the rules don’t apply to them, and condeming their noxious weasel-like rationalizations. As if those should smooth over very bad decision making. No one looks noble, just pathetic. And for Godsake, let’s stop assessing whether the story fits our particular point of political view before condemning it. That sort of thinking only widens the Left/Right chasm, and further exacerbates an already contentious situation. Somebody must be the grown up.
Hopefully everyone will cheer on Gianforte’s efforts to right a wrong, in as much as it is in his power to do so. (Yes, I know: Gianforte’s a politician. Genuine sincerity and humility are not standard fare for these types when caught up in any sort of scandal. Faux-humility, yes. Definitely. Rehab, of course. And a lot of testing the political winds to see which way public sentiment leads them. That is the typical go-to response of those in power. And maybe that’s what Ginaforte’s letter and donation are all about. But right here, right now, I choose to dump my standard cynicism and see this as a man who knew he screwed up big time and is trying to make amends as best he can. Can we just leave it there, at least for now?)
Also, to this Republican’s credit, not only did he offer a gracious apology, but official verification of his $50,000 donation has been made. This unlike other politicians who say they will, but then don’t. Or take it from children with cancer.
(Cross-posted at The Jury Talks Back.)
UPDATE BY PATTERICO:
As a reminder, Gianforte’s campaign’s statement at the time:
“Tonight, as Greg was giving a separate interview in a private office, The Guardian’s Ben Jacobs entered the office without permission, aggressively shoved a recorder in Greg’s face, and began asking badgering questions,” Scanlon said. “Jacobs was asked to leave. 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.”
Horseshit. It was always obvious horseshit and now he has confirmed it.
Here’s what commenters said about this at the time, in this thread, memorialized for posterity. Me, I said assaulting reporters is wrong. Seems Mr. Horseshit finally agrees.