Quist and Bernie toured the state. Getty photo
Sign of the Ugly Trumpian Times: On Wednesday evening, hours before a Montana special election that was supposed to be a GOP slam dunk but increasingly, intriguingly isn't, GOP candidate, all-round jerk, and evidently short-fused tech millionaire Greg Gianforte body slammed a Guardian reporter to the ground for daring to...umm...ask a question about the cruel charade of Trumpcare, after which Gianforte repeatedly screamed, in audio now available, "Get the hell out of here!" The incident came just before voting was set to begin in a closely watched election to replace Ryan Zinke, former GOP Congressman and now Interior Department head, in a red stronghold that, thanks to the criminal incompetence of the Trump regime, is now viewed as a key battleground state.
Gianforte, a right-wing, racist, anti-health care, anti-science Trump supporter who was bolstered by robocalls from Pence and a visit from Donny Jr. and is eager to "work with Donald Trump to drain the swamp and make America great again," has been dubbed "just another rich guy trying to buy a political seat." But he retained a dwindling single-digit lead against Democrat Rob Quist, a populist folk-singer and first-time candidate - at least until Wednesday, when Gianforte decked The Guardian's Ben Jacobs for asking him about health care. A longtime political reporter, Jacobs had earlier written about Gianfore's alleged financial ties - another one! - to Russia. After the sudden eruption heard in the audio, Jacobs called police, and Gianforte fled the scene. He was subsequently charged with assault
Even as Jacobs was taken by ambulance to the hospital - his glasses were broken, his elbow was possibly broken, and he was shaken up - a statement from the Gianforte campaign rushed to claim that Jacobs had "aggressively shoved a recorder in Greg's face, and began asking badgering questions." It went on to describe a scuffle that, online observers quickly noted after listening to the audio, was utter fiction. In a moment of oh-so-sweet irony, a Fox News crew in the room at the time confirmed it was a lie; they said they "watched in disbelief" as “Gianforte grabbed Jacobs by the neck with both hands and slammed him into the ground behind him," and then began punching him. In a classic toxic twist of victim-blaming, the statement ended by condemning "this aggressive behavior from a liberal journalist."
After the assault, three Montana newspapers who had endorsed Gianforte withdrewtheir support, lamenting the sorry coarsening and brutalizing of the times. Approached by reporters right after the attack, a cautious Quist declined to comment on it. But we will. These people are low-life thugs, all of 'em.