Read Greg Gianforte’s Full Apology for Body-Slamming Reporter

“I write to you to express my sincere apology for my conduct,” says Montana Republican, who will donate $50,000 to the Committee to Protect Journalists

Last Updated: June 7, 2017 @ 7:47 PM

Newly-elected Montana congressman Greg Gianforte issued a second, comprehensive apology on Wednesday to Guardian journalist Ben Jacobs for physically assaulting him on May 24. Gianforte has also pledged to donate $50,000 to the non-profit Committee to Protect Journalists to make up for doing so.

The altercation occurred at Gianforte’s campaign headquarters less than 24 hours before a special election to replace outgoing Representative and fellow Republican Ryan Zinke. Jacobs was attacked — “body-slammed” is how he described it — by Gianforte, a Republican, after entering a room and asking a question about the Republicans’ proposed healthcare plan.

An interview with Fox News was being set up at the time, and Fox News reporter Alicia Acuna later backed up Jacobs’ version of events.

Following the incident, every major newspaper in Montana withdrew their endorsements of Gianforte and it was condemned on the national stage, and Gianforte was later cited by local police, but he still won the election with 50.7 percent. Gianforte issued an apology to Jacobs in his victory speech, but went further in his new apology.

“I write to you to express my sincere apology for my conduct on the evening of May 24. My physical response to your legitimate question was unprofessional, unacceptable, and unlawful,” Gianforte said in a letter to Jacobs that was also made available to the media. “As both a candidate for office and a public official, I should be held to a high standard in my interactions with the press and the public. My treatment of you did not meet that standard.”

The Gianforte campaign initially claimed the attack was in self defense, but Gianforte has now disavowed that claim completely. “Notwithstanding anyone’s statements to the contrary, you did not initiate any physical contact with me, and I had no right to assault you,” he says. “I am sorry for what I did and the unwanted notoriety this has created for you.”

“I made a mistake and I humbly ask for your forgiveness,” the letter concludes.

Read the entire letter below, via Politico.

Dear Mr. Jacobs,

I write to you to express my sincere apology for my conduct on the evening of May 24. My physical response to your legitimate question was unprofessional, unacceptable, and unlawful. As both a candidate for office and a public official, I should be held to a high standard in my interactions with the press and the public. My treatment of you did not meet that standard.

Notwithstanding anyone’s statements to the contrary, you did not initiate any physical contact with me, and I had no right to assault you. I am sorry for what I did and the unwanted notoriety this has created for you. I take full responsibility.

I understand the critical role that journalists and the media play in our society. Protections afforded the press through the constitution are fundamental to who we are as a nation and the way government is accountable to the people. I acknowledge that the media have an obligation to seek information. I also know that civility in our public discourse is central to a productive dialogue on issues. I had no right to respond the way I did to your legitimate question about health care policy. You were doing your job.

In hope that perhaps some good can come of these events, I am making a $50,000 contribution to the Committee to Protect Journalists, an independent non-profit organization that promotes press freedom and that protects the rights of journalists worldwide.

I made a mistake and I humbly ask for your forgiveness.

Sincerely,

Greg Gianforte.

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