Shortly after tweeting allegations that Republican Montana House special election candidate Greg Gianforte assaulted him at a campaign event in Bozeman, Montana, The Guardian's Ben Jacobs added that a local TV crew was in the room where it happened. Members of the team of journalists from Fox News, said they witnessed Gianforte attack Jacobs, later Wednesday night, alleging that the candidate not only "body slammed" the reporter but also allegedly "grabbed him by the neck" and punched him.
While Gianforte's spokesman blamed Jacobs in a statement for being the aggressor in the altercation, Fox News' Alicia Acuna described, in a first person account via FoxNews.com, how she, her field producer Faith Mangan, and photographer Keith Railey, recalled the events.
After sharing in some small talk with Gianforte before their scheduled interview, Acuna alleged that Jacobs entered the room and began asking questions about the American Health Care Act (AHCA). When Jacobs supposedly didn't back off after Gianforte told him to speak with his spokesman instead, she alleged the confrontation turned violent:
At that point, 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 reporter. As Gianforte moved on top of Jacobs, he began yelling something to the effect of, "I'm sick and tired of this!"
Again, Gianforte's spokesperson denies Gianforte was the aggressor, suggesting instead that both men were pushed to the ground.
After, Acuna alleged that Jacobs "scrambled to his knees" and commented about his broken glasses before asking her team for their names —adding that "in shock" they didn't answer him— before saying he wanted to call the police.
Acuna claimed Gianforte then apologized to her and her team "repeatedly" before she told him and his spokesman, Shane Scanlon (who gave the aforementioned statement from the Gianforte campaign) that they "needed a moment."
Acuna also said that she and her crew are cooperating with local authorities, but also stated that she didn't agree that Jacobs was the aggressor:
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.
With reports that Gianforte has been cited for misdemeanor assault and the House special election hours away, the situation in Montana remains incredibly complicated.