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Photo:  Suggested attire for reporters asking tough questions of government officials

Media Watch column by Miriam Raftery

May 25, 2017 (San Diego) – San Diego Congressman Duncan Hunter, asked by capitol reporters what he thought about Montana Congressional Candidate Greg Gianforte bodyslamming a reporter, replied that is’ “not appropriate behavior” then clarified, “unless the reporter deserved it,” the Hill reports.

Gianforte was charged with assault against a reporter from the Guardian last night who asked his views on a Congressional Budget Office report on the GOP healthcare bill.  

The violent assault was caught on tape by Guardian reporter Ben Jacobs. The attack was also witnessed by a Fox News crew, who confirmed that Gianforte “grabbed Jacobs by the neck with both hands and slammed him into the ground,” then began punching him. Three newspapers revoked their endorsements of Gianforte over the brutal incident, which broke the reporter’s glasses. On tape, Gianforte can be heard shouting at Jacobs to "get the hell out" after smashing him to the ground.

The Fox News crew confirmed that the reporter did not act aggressively, did not touch Gianforte and did nothing wrong. He merely did his job, asking the Congressional candidate an important question on the eve of a special election to fill a vacancy in the House. 

The Society of Professional Journalists denounced the alleged assault, saying “it is never acceptable to physically harm or arrest a journalist who is simply trying to do his or her job.”

The troubling incident was the latest in a string of offensive actions toward journalists by members of Congress and the Trump administration.

A reporter from Public News Service was arrested for trying to ask a question about healthcare of Trump’s Secretary of Health and Human Services Tom Price on public property in the West Virginia state capitol.

San Diego Congressman Darrell Issa flipped off a Politico reporter with his middle finger when she asked his views on the firing of FBI director James Comey, 10 News reported.

Trump tried to get fired FBI director Comey to put journalists in prison who published leaked materials.  Trump has also referred to media as “enemies” of the people, despite the fact the journalism is the only profession protected by the U.S. Constitution in the First Amendment. That’s because our founding father’s understood the importance of a free press to protecting our democracy.

Journalist  Josh Wolfe, who once spent 226 days in jail to protect his sources after he refused to hand over videotape of a protest,  had this to say about the recent bullying of the press.

“Now Trump has declared war on the media and it would be naive to do anything other than strap on the gloves and prepare for a fight.”

The press is fighting for your rights, the public's rights, to know what your government officails are thinking and doing. When government officials or candidates dodge questions, bully or assault members of the media, they are also attacking your access to important information.

Please tell Rep. Hunter, or whoever your representative is, there no reporter ever "deserves" to be assaulted.  Gianforte's attack was a thuggish display of cowardice by an elected official--a bully afraid of a question about a nonpartisan report which found the GOP healthcare plan would cause 23 million people to lose healthcare and some low-income seniors to pay 850% more for premiums. Gianforte punched a reporter rather than let voters know where he stood on this criitical matter.

If this trend continues, perhaps journalism schools should add courses in self defense, martial arts and shopping for body armor to the curriculum, for those courageous journalists who continue to fight for your right to know the truth, and the stances of those whom you elected, or who are seeking your vote.


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