Montana Republican congressional candidate allegedly assaults newspaper reporter


A reporter for The Guardian newspaper was "body slammed" to the floor Wednesday by Greg Gianforte, the Republican candidate in Thursday's special election for Montana's open U.S. House seat, the reporter and multiple witnesses said.

The reporter, Ben Jacobs, was covering an event in Bozeman and tweeted the encounter at about 7 p.m. ET.

Jacobs told MSNBC's Chris Hayes that he was trying to ask Gianforte about the CBO score when "the next thing I know, I'm being body-slammed."

"He's on top of me. My glasses are broken," Jacobs said. "It's the strangest thing that's happened in my entire life reporting."

An unidentified man was transported to a hospital, authorities told NBC News. The Hyalite Rural Fire District confirmed that it had been called to the scene to support investigation of an assault at about 5:15 p.m. (7:15 p.m. ET).

Asked about the report during a campaign event in Missoula, a spokesperson for Gianforte's Democratic opponent, singer/songwriter Rob Quist, told NBC News he initially thought it was a joke.

Alexis Levinson, a reporter for BuzzFeed News, who was also at the event, tweeted that Jacobs had walked into a room where a local television crew was set up for an interview with Gianforte when "all of a sudden I heard a giant crash and saw Ben's feet fly in the air as he hit the floor."

Levinson, who was standing outside the door of the room where the assault allegedly occurred, later told MSNBC that she heard angry yelling in a voice that sounded like Gianforte's.

Whitney Bermes, a reporter for The Bozeman Chronicle, tweeted a photo of Gianforte in the front seat of an unmarked Jeep talking to a medical responder.

Gianforte, 55, a technology entrepreneur who unsuccessfully ran for governor last year, later left the event early in the Jeep without speaking, reporters on the scene said.

Montana has just one representative in the U.S. House. The special election was made necessary required after President Donald Trump appointed Rep. Ryan Zinke to be interior secretary.