Montana Candidate’s Assault Charge Is A Laughing Matter For Some On Right

FILE - In this June 26, 2016 file photo, then-candidate for governor Republican Greg Gianforte speaks to a member of the audience after debating Montana Gov. Steve Bullock, in Big Sky, Mont. Gianforte, who is a Technology entrepreneur, says he has commitments from enough delegates to secure the Republican nomination for Montana's special election for the U.S. House. (AP Photo/Bobby Caina Calvan, file)
FILE - In this June 26, 2016 file photo, then-candidate for governor Republican Greg Gianforte speaks to a member of the audience after debating Montana Gov. Steve Bullock, in Big Sky, Mont. Gianforte, who is a Techn... FILE - In this June 26, 2016 file photo, then-candidate for governor Republican Greg Gianforte speaks to a member of the audience after debating Montana Gov. Steve Bullock, in Big Sky, Mont. Gianforte, who is a Technology entrepreneur, says he has commitments from enough delegates to secure the Republican nomination for Montana's special election for the U.S. House. (AP Photo/Bobby Caina Calvan, file) MORE LESS
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May 25, 2017 12:01 p.m.

After Republican U.S. House candidate Greg Gianforte was charged with assault on the eve of Thursday’s special election in Montana, some Republicans on Capitol Hill blamed “the left” or appeared to crack jokes while members of the conservative media mocked the reporter Gianforte was accused of bodyslamming.

Rep. Trent Franks (R-AZ) told MSNBC that he rejects using violence and blamed the alleged assault on “the left” for taking what he called a “confrontational approach.”

“The left has precipitated this intense, confrontational approach throughout the country in recent months. I reject any kind of thing where we use physical violence in a situation like that,” he said. “It should not have happened. And the law will have to be the ultimate arbiter.”

Franks’ comments echoed the statement issued by Gianforte’s campaign. His spokesman, Shane Scanlon, lamented that “aggressive behavior from a liberal journalist created this scene at our campaign volunteer BBQ.” Scanlon also claimed that the reporter, Ben Jacobs, grabbed Gianforte first, which contradicts both the reporter’s account and the eyewitness account of a Fox News reporter who was in the room.

Rep. David Brat (R-VA) told the Washington Post that he was unsure of exactly what happened and heard about the incident “in the weight room.”

“Everyone was laughing,” Brat noted, per the Post. “Democrats and Republicans.”

A few other Republicans appeared to crack jokes about the alleged assault:

“We didn’t have a course on body slamming when I went to school,” Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-TX) told MSNBC when asked about Gianforte.

Some in the conservative media mocked Jacobs and questioned the amount of media attention given to the alleged assault, with NewsBusters editor Tim Graham even incorrectly identifying Jacobs as a British reporter:

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