You can be forgiven if you forgot about the story of Montana Rep. Greg Gianforte body-slamming Guardian reporter Ben Jacobs to the ground in May 2017 after Jacobs asked a question he didn’t like. That was a simpler time, back before Trump referred to journalists as “the enemy of the people,” and before Annapolis, and before a maniac from California got arrested for using Trump’s exact rhetoric in violent threats issued to the Boston Globe. The body slam incident was shocking back then, but it’s easy to let something that slip from your mind in the face of greater horrors.
But it’s time to remember, because Trump was in Billings, MT at a rally for Gianforte Thursday night, and he made a winking reference to the incident, for which Gianforte later pleaded guilty to misdemeanor assault:
“I’ll tell you what: This man has fought — in more ways than one — for your state. He has fought for your state,” the president said. “Greg Gianforte. He is a fighter and a winner.”
As you can see from the video, Trump’s intonation and pauses and sly look offstage indicate he’s clearly seeking the crowd’s approval in reference to Gianforte’s act of violence against a journalist:
Here's Trump from last night giving Montana Rep. Gianforte props for body-slamming a reporter because he didn't like his question back in May 2017. (He later pleaded guilty to misdemeanor assault.) pic.twitter.com/71ScNawKeh— Shane Ryan (@ShaneRyanHere) September 7, 2018
And, of course, the crowd ate it up.
Just another day in America, and you have to ask—how long until the next journalist is threatened or assaulted or worse? Considering the president’s tacit approval for such acts, the answer is too depressing to consider.
In slightly better news, the only poll in Gianforte’s race showed him trailing his opponent by six points.