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"I would’ve shot him." Montana Republican says body-slamming congressman didn’t go far enough

The Republican Party needs a refresher course on what “family values” truly means. Because open threats of violence against reporters do not fall under any reasonable definition of the term. When Montana congressional candidate Greg Gianforte physically assaulted Guardian reporter Ben Jacobs in May 2017, body-slamming him to the ground and breaking his glasses because […]

By Alison R. Parker - October 21, 2017
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Greg Gianforte
Montana GOP Rep. Greg Gianforte

Because open threats of violence against reporters do not fall under any reasonable definition of the term.

When Montana congressional candidate Greg Gianforte physically assaulted Guardian reporter Ben Jacobs in May 2017, body-slamming him to the ground and breaking his glasses because he was annoyed with Jacobs’ questions, it was a shocking moment to almost all observers.

Except to many of his fellow Republicans, of course, many of whom refused to condemn without qualifications Gianforte’s assault.

And one of Gianforte’s Montana GOP colleagues apparently thinks his only mistake was that he didn’t go far enough.

Speaking to the Voice of Montana radio program, Karen Marshall, the vice-president of programs for Gallatin County Republican Women, offered her own disturbing take on what ought to have happened to Jacobs for doing his job.

“If that kid had done to me what he did to Greg, I would have shot him,” Marshall declared. (What Jacobs “did to Greg” was to simply ask him questions about the Republican plan to repeal Obamacare.)

Reporters had been invited to Gianforte’s event, yet Marshall tried to insist that Jacobs had essentially been trespassing.

“That kid came on private property, came into a private building, and went into a very private room that I would not even have gone into,” she said, calling it a “setup.”

A spokesman for Gianforte said that the congressman “disagrees with those remarks [and] repudiates them.”

And however Marshall tries to erroneously label Jacobs’ actions, there is no possible justification for threatening to shoot a reporter because they’re bothering you by doing their job.

Marshall’s chilling endorsement of violence against someone with whom she disagrees is one echoed in recent days by conservative voters.

When Steve Bannon mentioned Arizona Republican Sen. John McCain during a speech to California Republicans Friday, someone in the audience yelled out, “Hang him!”

And as she has been the target of hateful lies from Donald Trump and chief of staff John Kelly for standing up for the family of fallen U.S. soldier Sgt. La David Johnson, Florida Democratic Rep. Frederica Wilson has also received death threats, including a specific and terrifying post on Facebook for her to be lynched.

The GOP pretends to hold a monopoly on the mantle of family values and morality.

But when their voters’ calls for violence are only echoed, not denounced, by party officials, they are placing themselves in the gutter, with precisely zero room to lay claim to the moral high ground.


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