- The White House Correspondents’ Association accused President Donald Trump in a statement of “cheerleading for a violent act targeting a free and independent news media.”
- On Thursday, Trump praised Republican Rep. Greg Gianforte at a Montana rally for body-slamming a Guardian reporter in May 2017.
- “I said, ‘Oh, this is terrible. He’s going to lose the election,” Trump said. “Then I said, ‘Well, wait a minute. I know Montana pretty well – I think it might help him.’ And it did.”
The White House Correspondents’ Association sharply condemned President Donald Trump’s praise of a lawmaker who assaulted a journalist in 2017, accusing Trump of “cheerleading for a violent act targeting a free and independent news media.”
“All Americans should recoil from the president’s praise for a violent assault on a reporter doing his Constitutionally protected job,” WHCA President Olivier Knox said in a statement. “This amounts to the celebration of a crime by someone sworn to uphold our laws and an attack on the First Amendment by someone who has solemnly pledged to defend it.”
Trump had praised Republican Rep. Greg Gianforte during a Montana rally on Thursday, calling him “my guy” for body-slamming Guardian reporter Ben Jacobs during his campaign.
“And by the way, never wrestle him, you understand that? Never,” Trump told the audience. “Any guy that can do a body slam, he’s my guy.”
Trump also recounted his own reaction when he heard about Gianforte’s assault.
“I said, ‘Oh, this is terrible. He’s going to lose the election,” Trump said. “Then I said, ‘Well, wait a minute. I know Montana pretty well – I think it might help him.’ And it did.”
Jacobs had made an audio recording of the May 2017 assault, and three Fox News reporters witnessed the attack. Jacobs could be heard in the recording trying to ask Gianforte a question about his position on a Republican healthcare bill before a scuffle ensued.
“You just body slammed me and broke my glasses,” Jacobs could be heard saying.
Gianforte eventually pleaded guilty to misdemeanour assault and was sentenced to 40 hours of community service and 20 hours of anger-management classes.
Jacobs’ employer, The Guardian, also condemned Trump’s praise of Gianforte on Thursday.
“To celebrate an attack on a journalist who was simply doing his job is an attack on the First Amendment by someone who has taken an oath to defend it.”
Bryan Logan contributed reporting.
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