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Gianforte

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Greg Gianforte’s physical assault of a reporter this evening may be nearly unprecedented for a Congressional candidate, but it’s hardly atypical for where the Republican Party is going. That his team just doubled down on it, openly lying about what happened makes it even worse, but again, alternative facts.

Beating up journalists is a hallmark of dictatorships. Combine this with Commerce Secretary Wilber Ross’ wistfully longing for the U.S. to have Saudi levels of political protest and of course Trump demonizing the media and this sort of thing becomes almost inevitable. The question is not whether reporters will continue to be assaulted. Republicans–lunatics in the base if not candidates or office holders–will probably keep doing this as they turn their backs on democratic values. The question is whether voters will hold them accountable. Winning as a Democrat in Montana is tough, but not impossible. Gianforte was probably a little bit ahead. After tonight, if he’s not driven to defeat by Montana voters, then it’s a sign that half the nation basically doesn’t care about assaulting journalists, although I have also heard that probably 2/3 of the votes for the election have already been cast, suggesting one of the problems with early voting systems.

…And here’s more detail.

Gianforte should be arrested. But the sheriff is a Gianforte donor, so of course not.

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  • David Allan Poe

    Oh good. At least in Alaska, Senate candidate Joe Miller had one of his henchmen (who later turned out to be an FBI informant who got a bunch of militia nuts thrown in jail for plotting to murder a judge) handcuff a reporter instead of doing it himself. Montana, the fascist floor is yours.

  • Peterr

    John Dingell commented on this earlier:

    Hell, I spent 60 years in Congress without bodyslamming a single reporter.

    This guy in Montana won’t last long if he manages to win.

    Dingell certainly appears to be enjoying his retirement. See also here, re a recent apology by Anderson Cooper.

    • Joe_JP

      He’s great & his wife has his seat anyhow.

      • Linnaeus

        We could use a few more John & Debbie Dingells in the House.

  • pigmund

    When conservative commentators like Laura Ingraham get moist from the news of journalists getting beat down for the temerity of doing their jobs, you know this just the tip of the iceberg.

    • JdLaverty

      What I find particularly irritating about situations like these is that the assaulted individual can’t give the attacker a light beating without almost certainly facing serious charges. Giafronte’s status as a congressional candidate (a rich congressional candidate, no less) protects him from getting a well-deserved ass-kicking in situations like these; kinda like how cops can slap people around whenever they want without suffering the consequences because of their special status.

  • Peterr

    Rep Ted Lieu (D-CA33) offers a reaction as well:

    Thank goodness Trumpcare is not yet law. Injuries from Greg Gianforte assaults are still covered. He should also withdraw from the race.

    Not quite as good as Dingell, but give Lieu a few more decades in the House and he’ll no doubt improve.

    • free_fries_

      Thinking back to Paul’s column about aging in office the other day. Dingell’s got 20 years on Trump and is 20,000x sharper.

  • And of course, this is Chris Cillizza’s take.

    • scott_theotherone

      Sweet fancy Moses. I assumed that was going to be a joke. It was, of course–but, sadly, also real. JFC.

      • jim, some guy in iowa

        shooting Cillizza out of a cannon into the sun delays the gratification too long. There must be a brick wall in need of demolition somewhere

    • Mellano

      Remarkable bird, the Norwegian Blue. Beautiful plumage, isn’t it?

    • Peterr

      He’s got a few more takes up on Twitter that are more appropriate, including a nice takedown of a “The reporter had it coming” troll.

      • Just to show that I’m not unwilling to give credit where credit is due, at least he knows the difference between a body-check and a choke-slam.

      • As much as I dislike Cillizza, the article itself is about as critical as I’d expect from a major outlet like CNN when the facts are still technically disputed, and he probably doesn’t write his own headlines, either. The application of value-free horse race analysis to an assault is pretty ridiculous, though.

    • brad

      He tweeted today that he makes 8 figures. He really did.

      The news media needs a sabermetric revolution. I produce more news value added than Cillizza just by producing none at all.

    • ggrzw72

      I’m not a fan of Cilliza, but it seems unfair to criticize him based on an article title, seeing as how reporters don’t typically choose the titles for their articles.

  • scott_theotherone

    Dear Chris Cillizza —

    When even Fox News is taking the assault seriously, your standard horserace schtick ain’t gonna fly. (You hack.)

  • Charlie S

    Here’s Sheriff Brian Gootkin’s office phone:
    615 S. 16th Avenue
    Bozeman, MT 59715
    Phone: 406 582-2125

    http://gallatincomt.virtualtownhall.net/Public_Documents/gallatincomt_sheriff/gootkin

    He should be called and encouraged to do his duty.

    • DrDick

      He donated to Gianforte’s campaign.

      • Quaino

        I’m fairly certain he will not be identified as the first person in human history to donate to a candidate who was eventually found out to be a criminal. Perhaps he’s human scum and will just brush it off, but I’m not certain ‘donated to so and so’ immediately pre-ordains the bad outcome.

        • It’s official: bench warrant (misdemeanor not felony) assault. Court date within next couple of weeks.

      • DrS

        I’m not aware of when this idea that you only call political figures to agitate for a position when they have better angels you can appeal to came up, but it’s dumb as hell

      • JonH

        It’d be pretty pathetic for a law enforcement official to be biased enough to obstruct justice after giving only a couple hundred dollars.

    • JonH

      Gianforte has been charged, cited for misdemeanor assault. Apparently that’s the best they could do according to MT law, due to the minimal injuries involved.

      • bender

        Minimal injuries? If the reporter was thrown to the ground and landed with most of his weight on his elbow, the elbow is probably broken and will require surgery.

        • ggrzw72

          That’s minimal injuries according to the law of most states. Take it up with the Montana Legislature if you disagree.

    • ggrzw72

      It’s no more appropriate to call a sheriff asking him to arrest someone (who has, by the way, already been cited and ordered to appear in court) than it is for a president to ask an FBI director drop an investigation.

  • Murc

    I’d like to see the blogs Senior Montana Correspondent, DrDick, weigh in on this.

    • DrDick

      I have done so down thread. It will not help him, but it may not kill his chances. I have to say this does not surprise me in the least. He really is a slightly more intelligent and rational Donald Trump.

      • I understand that ballots went out weeks ago, so a lot of votes are going to have been made before this happened. Is that right?

        • DrDick

          That is true, but a lot of people will still be voting in person tomorrow. About 47% of the electorate have already voted absentee (including me). It was already a close race and this could make a difference.

          • xenology

            I’m a relatively-recent Montana resident (been here a bit over a year) and a woman I know who works as a lobbyist in-state claimed that the special election timing (students out, snowbirds in) would be the deciding factor, but I’m now filled with hope that she’s just wildly off this one time.

            • Donna Gratehouse

              Do the snowbirds vote there, though? From what I understand most of them here in AZ don’t vote here.

              • xenology

                I certainly hope that’s the case! I don’t know how voter registration for people with multiple homes shakes out, on average. I feel like that must have been studied by someone…

                • bs

                  Find out which state has the lowest state income tax. That’ll be where they “live”.

              • rea

                Snowbirds go to Arizona for the winter, live most of the year elsewhere, and don’t vote in Arizona. On the other hand snowbirds in a northern state like Montana (or my Michigan) go elsewhere for the winter, live most of the year in Montana, and vote there.

          • JonH

            The number I saw was a smidge under 40% have voted already.

            • DrDick

              AS of a little while ago, about 47% of the electorate had been sent absentee ballots, but only about 36% of those had bee received by yesterday’s deadline.

      • mds

        It will not help him

        You sure about that? Smug reporter for a foreign newspaper, trying to play gotcha with a decent man who’s finally had enough mistreatment from the liberal media. It’s about time someone taught them a lesson.

        • Ahuitzotl

          yeah, anyone thinking like that was already voting for him, I’d think

  • Lasker

    I’d be willing to bet that Gianforte will be arrested tomorrow. As highlighted by brad, an arrest apparently requires a warrant so the fact that he wasn’t arrested today doesn’t necessarily mean it isn’t in the works.

    Not going to make a prediction on the race itself.

    • SNF

      What’s the procedure if someone is put in jail and elected simultaneously?

      • efgoldman

        What’s the procedure if someone is put in jail and elected simultaneously?

        The legendary James Michael Curley was elected from prison to one of his terms as mayor of Boston.
        Buddy Cianci went in the slammer twice; he was convicted while in office, but resigned both times.

    • Gizmo

      It didn’t take that long after all. He’s been charged with misdemeanor assault.

      https://twitter.com/wabermes/status/867598687005966337

    • JonH

      No arrest, I don’t think. A citation that he has to go to court over.

      • rea

        It would be unusual, and possibly illegal, to arrest for a misdemeanor not committed in the presence of an officer.

        • ggrzw72

          The police can arrest for a misdemeanor not committed in the presence of an officer if they obtain an arrest warrant, but otherwise it’d be illegal.

          It seems hard to justify obtaining a misdemeanor arrest warrant if one’s confident that the suspect will show up for his court appearance and there are no special circumstances (flight risk, danger to self or others, etc.) present, though.

          • Pete

            +1

  • I’d like to see the House refuse to seat Mr. Joisey Carpetbagger. ‘Though they’re as likely to give him a Preston Brooks Memorial Cane.

    • Steve LaBonne

      Don’t give them any ideas.

  • Mike Furlan

    “Norman Mailer once punched Vidal at a party after the writer had given him a bad review. Still on the floor, Vidal declared: “Once again, words fail Norman Mailer.” “http://www.telegraph.co.uk/books/authors/gore-vidal-and-his-bitter-feuds/

    Words fail them.

    • veleda_k

      Full props to Vidal, because I would not be nearly so witty after getting punched.

      • sibusisodan

        L’esprit de falling down l’escalier?

      • JohnT

        From all I know about Vidal, who was clearly both very annoying and very clever with words, he would have had a barbed riposte for his own firing squad.

        • I met him once. He was as fascinating in person as you’d think from reading his books.

          • Ahuitzotl

            Oh dear god, how did you survive?

            Oh, you mean that as a compliment?

  • DamnYankees

    I think the most poignant comment on this that I saw was a reddit comment that just said “Please matter.”

    Sort of feels like we’re all begging for that these days. We just want stuff to matter.

    • Robin G.

      God.

    • DrDick

      Sadly, I am not sure it will, as I say below.

    • SNF

      It probably won’t. Or if it does, it might just boost turnout among Republicans who are glad that someone made an example of the “liberal media”.

    • Rob in CT

      Yup.

  • DrDick

    Ironically, the local Fox News station was there and witnessed the attack. They completely support the reporters version of events. I wish that I could say with certainty that is will kill his chances, but our Montana Republicans are not particularly bright, educated, or rational.

    • BiloSagdiyev

      But surely a lot of out-of-state condemnation will open their minds or shame them?

      • DrDick

        Never been here, have you?

    • JonH

      Not sure if that was the local Fox station or Fox News themselves. The story posted at foxnews.com, written by one of the people there, is by a woman who works for Fox News in their Denver “bureau”. Perhaps she was there with some local crew.

  • Charlie S

    Gianforte’s been cited for misdemeanor assault, which sounds about right.

    • scott_theotherone

      Does it? IANAL, but wouldn’t battery have been more applicable? Or is it a Montana thing? (Not being sarcastic.)

      • JonH

        Montana thing. From what I gather, felony assault would have required more severe injuries.

        Penalty is up to a $500 fine, or six months in jail, or both.

        • rea

          Felonious assault usually requires a weapon.

          • Keaaukane

            I had a creative DA claim a sidewalk was a weapon to over charge a similar body slam case. Of course, he was a total asshole. But if the Montana DAs were motivated enough, I’m sure the floor could also serve as a weapon.

            • DrDick

              This was in Bozeman, so the DA is probably a Republican.

            • Pete

              Heavy boots can also be a weapon in such cases, but there was apparently no kicking here.

          • ggrzw72

            Use of a weapon is one element that will bump misdemeanor battery/assault to a felony in most jurisdictions, but there are others–e.g., infliction of serious injury; victim is a child or physically disabled; multiple assailants against a single victim; occurs during the commission of another crime.

      • ggrzw72

        In this context, assault and battery are the same thing. Historically, assault was placing someone in fear of an immanent battery (a threat of immediate violence or an attempted, but unsuccessful, battery). But due to close relationship between the two terms, they kind of merged to the point that they’re treated as synonyms, even in the criminal codes of many states and certainly in popular imagination.

  • DrDick

    And the Missoulian and the Billings Gazette (two of the largest papers in the state) have formally withdrawn their endorsements of Gianforte.

  • BiloSagdiyev

    I remember when I was a boy, the GOP had a reputation/veneer/facade of being fraditionalists concerned about manners and social graces. I’m sorry, where in Miss Manners’ book does it say you get to start choking or body slamming people?

    They’ve gone from alleged Daddy Party to being juggalos.

    • bender

      frauditionalists?

    • corporatecake

      Miss Manners would be appalled, of course, but having read several of her books, I’m pretty sure she votes Democratic.

      • Karen24

        Judith Martin — Miss Manners — made me a feminist. If you can find it, read her takedown of Phyllis Schlafly, which includes quotes by Edith Wharton. And yes, I am sure she’s a good Democrat, and one who likes opera.

        • Tony Pius

          Found it! And yes, it’s lovely.

          • Pete

            That was one helluva question she answered too.

        • lizzie

          Long-time fan of Miss Manners too.

        • steverinoCT

          I imagine her working with Nancy Reagan: “Just Say No, Thank You.”

  • SNF

    At least some conservative pundits are rallying to Gianforte’s defense, and a quick look at Twitter replies and comment sections to articles about this on conservative news sources shows the base is supportive. If anything, beating up a liberal reporter seems to have made him a hero to some conservatives.

    • Linnaeus

      Can’t say that I’m surprised at all.

      • humanoid.panda

        At least some conservative pundits are rallying to Gianforte’s defense, and a quick look at Twitter replies and comment sections to articles about this on conservative news sources shows the base is supportive. If anything, beating up a liberal reporter seems to have made him a hero to some conservatives.

        Measuring public opinion by the small number of people (and large number of bots> that post on social media is a not a good idea.. As Rob says below, anyone who cares enough to comment on newspapers is not a swing vote by any stretch of the imagination.

    • wengler

      I wonder if the UK government will do anything about a UK-based newspaper’s reporter being assaulted.

    • Origami Isopod

      Moving this up here where it’s relevant: Kurt Schlichter is among that number.

  • Rob in CT

    538 says ~60% of votes were already cast by the time of the incident, so it’s hard to imagine this propelling Quist to victory.

    • Aexia

      Early voters tend to be the most committed partisan voters. So while 60% of the electorate has voted, they’re not the type of people who would’ve changed their vote over this anyways.

      • Rob in CT

        Sounds right. The best hope we’ve got is that this boosts turnout and the extra votes are against Gianforte (with maybe a slight drop in turnout from people who are mildly lean-R).

        People who pay attention are pretty unlikely to switch, given our polarization. As my (Tory) Brit father used to say “you vote the Party, not the man!”

    • ChrisS

      Which is unfortunate because Gianforte is not well liked by MT sportsmen.

      But he’s not a “D” so most vote for him anyway.

      ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

    • DrDick

      The official count here is only 47%.

      • Rob in CT

        Yeah, not sure what the discrepancy is.

        Maybe 40% of registered voters = 60% of expected turnout or something like that?

        • bender

          The difference is votes in the mail but not delivered until today.

          • Rob in CT

            Ah, that makes sense.

          • DrDick

            Those will not count. They had to be received by yesterday.

    • DrDick

      That is wrong. As of this morning, 47% of the voters had requested absentee ballots, but only about 36% of those had been returned by yesterday’s deadline (you can still turn them in in person until the polls close). Voting was light around the state this morning.

      • Rob in CT

        Ok, thanks for the info.

  • zoomar

    If this blows the election for him, he can always move to Staten Island. They love it when a candidate threatens to break a reporter in half, “like a boy.”

  • Karen24

    I have zero support for this theory, but I’m going to state it anyway:

    Gianforte was losing. The Republicans already admitted that the election was “closer than it should have been” before this incident. Gianforte gets internal polling showing that he’s down significantly in early voting before this happens. The R’s goad him a little, knowing he’s got anger issues, before sending him out to meet the world. Jacobs is there, asking questions, and no one tries to deflect him. Gianforte responds predictably. When he does lose, the loss is about the candidate’s own behavior and not about the unpopularity of Trump and the Republican agenda. Thus, Ryan and Co. can tell GOP Congressmen “nothing to see here; Gianforte was a hothead and lost because of that.”

    • Rob in CT

      This would be lovely:

      1) He loses;
      2) Republicans draw the wrong lesson from it.

      • humanoid.panda

        One glitch with this theory: Republicans pushing “we are only up by 2 points” is basic expectations setting: it allows them to say that a victory by seven is a major triumph.

        • Rob in CT

          Oh, I don’t really buy this (though doubting Karen has a poor track record, at least recently). It would be nice if it were to come true, though.

  • Sebastian_h

    I know it isn’t the current progressive position, but this kind of thing is part of why I hate hate hate mail in ballots. I understand that some shut-ins need them, but most people should vote on voting day.

    • so-in-so

      And voting day should be a state/Federal holiday, or businesses should be required to grant time off as required to vote.

      As the Rude Pundit noted (over on the Twitter feed), if you voted for Gianforte up until he committed actual assault, you are STILL a dick.

  • DrDick

    Let me just say, as LGM’s senior resident Montanan, that I am thoroughly disgusted with my fellow Montanans. That anyone would think this vile, greedy, predatory, Dominionist thug was suitable to represent our state is appalling. Also, about 2/3 of the votes were cast on election day, so they have no excuse.

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