The Guardian political reporter who was body slammed by Rep. Greg Gianforte (R-MT) says the congressman has refused to sit down with him, despite promises to do so during his sentencing hearing for assaulting the journalist.
Reporter Ben Jacobs tweeted a statement Tuesday evening saying Gianforte’s refusal to do the “promised on-the-record interview” with Jacobs is indicative of the congressman’s “pattern of avoiding responsibility for his actions and refusing to live up to the statements made in what I had thought was a sincere apology,” he said.
Just one day before he was elected to the House, Jacobs approached Gianforte to ask him a question about health care. Gianforte body slammed the reporter and broke his glasses. Prosecutors filed an assault charge later that day.
Gianforte’s campaign tried to place the blame on Jacobs initially, but Jacobs’ audiotape recording of the encounter showed the reporter did not provoke him.
Gianforte issued an apology, was sentenced to 40 hours of community service and 20 hours of anger management and pledged to donate $50,000 to the Committee to Protect Journalists. He also told Jacobs he looked forward to sitting down with him, “if and when you’re ready.”
Two months later, that promise still hasn’t been fulfilled, Jacobs said.
“I will continue to strive to turn this incident into something positive. Civil discourse and press freedoms are non-partisan issues and should form the basic foundation of our political system and society. I regret that Congressman Gianforte doesn’t appear to share these values,” he said in his tweeted statement. “When the Congressman is ready to schedule an on-the-record interview with me, I welcome hearing from him. Otherwise, should we meet in the halls of the Capitol, I hope I can approach him without fear of physical assault.”
A spokesperson for Gianforte’s office told The Hill that Jacobs’ claims were not true, saying the office has been working to arrange a meeting between the reporter and the representative.
“We have been honest brokers in our efforts to arrange for Mr. Jacobs to sit down with the congressman, including providing Mr. Jacobs with possible dates and times for a meeting and asking what Montana beers the congressman could bring for Mr. Jacobs when they meet,” the spokesperson said. “Mr. Jacobs has yet to either accept or decline our offer.”
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