The Guardian reporter Ben Jacobs told ABC’s “Good Morning America” that he’s still in shock after accusing Greg Gianforte of “body-slamming” him Wednesday, saying it’s “very disappointing for what it means for the press.”
Jacobs claims Gianforte, the Republican candidate in Montana’s special House election, assaulted him on the eve of the election.
“It’s still been a surprising and shocking set of events, but I’m recovering,” Jacobs told George Stephanopoulos on Thursday morning.
“I went from being vertical one moment to being horizontal the next,” Jacobs said. “It became something that turned on a dime into the type of encounter I never expected to have with a politician, and one that’s very disappointing for what it means for the press.”
Jacobs said he is focused on work and will continue to cover the election, but wouldn’t rule out additional legal action against Gianforte.
Gianforte was cited for misdemeanor assault on Wednesday night after he was accused of “body-slamming” the Guardian reporter. The Gallatin County Sheriff’s Office issued a press release regarding the incident that occurred earlier in the evening at a Gianforte campaign volunteer barbecue in Bozeman, Montana.
“Following multiple interviews and an investigation by the Gallatin County Sheriff’s Office it was determined there was probable cause to issue a citation to Greg Gianforte for misdemeanor assault,” the statement said.
“The nature of the injuries did not meet the statutory elements of felony assault. Greg Gianforte received a citation on Wednesday night and is scheduled to appear in Gallatin County Justice Court between now and June 7, 2017.”
Jacobs said he was attacked — “body-slammed” — by Gianforte as a TV interview was being set up. Jacobs was later taken to an ambulance, where he took a photo of his glasses, which he claims were broken during the fight. Audio of the incident and witness accounts supported Jacobs’ version of events, which the campaign disputed.
The sheriff’s office said that if convicted, aspiring lawmaker Gianforte could be “fined not to exceed $500 or be imprisoned in the county jail for any term not to exceed 6 months, or both,” if convicted.
The campaign confirmed that a physical confrontation had taken place, but not as Jacobs detailed it. In a statement released to media, the campaign said that the incident was the result of aggressive and violent behavior by Jacobs, leaving Gianforte no choice but to defend himself physically.