June 29, 2017

Republican candidate charged with assault, roiling Trump's Montana test

26 May 2017, 01:12 | Ignacio Smith

Greg Gianforte's Body Slam Of Ben Jacobs An Assault: Montana Special Election Polls For Rob Quist Are Close

WASHINGTON DC- JANUARY 10 Rep. Duncan Hunter speaks to the media before a painting he found offensive and removed is rehung on the U.S. Capitol walls

It was palpable at some polling stations Thursday in Montana.

Tamy Wagner, KECI vice president and general manager, told HuffPost in an email that the station "did not have specific instructions or any instruction from Sinclair", in its handing of the Gianforte story. Some 83 percent of adults said "the relationship between Trump and the media is generally unhealthy", and almost three-quarters said that the tensions are "getting in the way of Americans' access to important political news". But I've also found that it is possible to correct the record when a reporter gets it wrong and to fight back with facts and well-articulated arguments. But the New York Times had previously obtained audio of the GOP nominee praising the bill to his donors.

A reporter for the Guardian newspaper felt that frustration first-hand.

US Republican Greg Gianforte has won a special congressional election in Montana, just hours after he was charged with assaulting a United Kingdom reporter.

On the audio, Gianforte can not be heard asking Jacobs to lower the recorder at any point during the incident. "We have a right to do our jobs", said Bernie Lunzer, a former journalist and the president of the NewsGuild, a union representing some 25,000 journalists in the U.S., Canada and Puerto Rico. But witnesses, even from the Fox News Channel, disagreed with the campaign's statement about what happened. As Gianforte moved on top of Jacobs, he began yelling something to the effect of, "I'm sick and exhausted of this!"

"What kind of a wuss files charges over broken glasses?" wondered the Daily Caller's Derek Hunter; in reply to audio of Jacobs's assault, Town Hall's Kurt Schlichter tweeted, "I'll go find a breeding kennel if I want to listen to bitches". There are fewer than 700,000 voters in the state, and few political veterans expected turnout to reach much higher than 60 percent.

There is also ample statistical evidence of anger with the media - especially among Republicans.

Montana is a conservative-leaning state that became even more so after voters last November overwhelmingly supported Trump, voted in Republican majorities in the state Legislature and elected GOP candidates to four of five statewide elected positions, leaving Gov. Steve Bullock as the only Democratic statewide elected official.

But critics are drawing the line between the rhetoric of President Trump - in which he has dubbed certain media outlets as "enemies of the American people" - and the incident, our correspondent adds.

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Richard Shanahan, a 75-year-old architect in Bozeman, said he had already voted by mail for Gianforte and was largely unbothered by the ugly end to the campaign.

A Quinnipiac poll this month painted a more nuanced portrait. Also, they said they trusted the media more than Trump - 53 per cent to 34 per cent. Excuse me, that's how I feel.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, hostility between presidents and the fourth estate actually goes way back.

Turley said something more chilling than the recent clashes between politicians and reporters might be underway.

"Messengers of the Right: Conservative Media and the Transformation of American Politics" cites a variety of reasons for conservative disillusionment with the mainstream media, including the expanded social-safety net of the 1930s and at the internationalists who pushed the US into the Second World War.

Popular radio host Rush Limbaugh took a similar route.

Some members of the Republican party are demanding a course correction. He hammered Gianforte for telling a group of Washington lobbyists he was "thankful" the bill had passed while suggesting to Montana voters that he would have opposed it. "(Second), the set of acceptable targets widens".

Screnar said she and her husband have known Gianforte for the better part of a decade.

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