The night before the surprisingly close special House election race in Montana, there are allegations that the Republican candidate, Greg Gianforte, "body slammed" The Guardian reporter Ben Jacobs after refusing to answer a question about the Republican healthcare bill, according to tweets from Jacob and other journalists at the scene Wednesday evening and audio released by The Guardian.
"Greg Gianforte just body slammed me and broke my glasses," Jacobs said in a series of tweets. Per the audio, released later by The Guardian, the confrontation at Gianforte's campaign headquarters in Bozeman, Montana, began with Gianforte being asked a question about the Republican health care plan. Then came a series of loud crashes and the resulting argument:
"The last guy who came here did the same thing. Get the hell out of here. Get the hell out of here The last guy did the same thing. Are you with the Guardian?"
Jacobs said that Gianforte broke his glasses, and when Gianforte replied “the last guy did the same damn thing.” Again, Jacobs repeated: "You just body slammed me and broke my glasses."
After, Gianforte yelled "Get the hell out of here."
In a statement released by Gianforte's campaign, spokesman Shane Scanlon described the incident as "aggressive behavior from a liberal journalist" and said that Jacobs "entered the office without permission" and "aggressively shoved a recorder in [Gianforte's] face."
Later, to the Guardian, Jacobs said he was in a side room with local news outlets and “decided there was no harm in asking one question, and the worst thing that could happen was they would tell [him] to go to hell."
Shortly after Jacobs first tweet, Alexis Levinson, a reporter with BuzzFeed who was also on the scene in Bozeman, Montana, described what she saw "behind a half closed door."
So I was there for this - still am https://t.co/tgjOCYErFi— Alexis Levinson (@alexis_levinson) May 24, 2017
"[Jacobs] walked into a room where a local tv crew was set up for an interview with Gianforte," Levinson said in a twitter thread. "All of a sudden I heard a giant crash and saw [Jacob's] feet fly in the air as he hit the floor."
Levinson went on to describe that she and volunteers in the room "heard very angry yelling" (that she said sounded like Gianforte) before Jacobs walked out of the room, holding his broken glasses, and told her "he just body-slammed me." Next, she said one Gianforte's aides arrived and told Jacobs to leave.
Local fire department officials told the Bozeman Daily Chronicle that Jacobs was taken to the Bozeman Health Deaconess Hospital and examined in an ambulance at the scene.
Gianforte is a Montana businessman running as the Republican candidate in Thursday's special election to fill the House seat vacated by Ryan Zinke, Donald Trump's Secretary of the Interior.
While Gianforte still remained a favorite to win as of early Wednesday, his opponent, Democrat Rob Quist, a first-time candidate (also a folk singer), has been credited with making the race surprisingly competitive after raising more than $6 million for his campaign. As more details emerge about this incident, the special election in Montana has gotten even more interesting.