Earlier this week, a political candidate named Greg Gianforte “body slammed” a Guardian reporter by the name of Ben Jacobs. Yesterday, Montana voters sent Gianforte to the U.S. House of Representatives.
Since there are many people in Montana and around the country that applaud and indeed voted for this behavior, I’d like to address the remainder of this post to them:
This isn’t what you think it is. This is bad. Really bad. This wasn’t a case of a “patriot” “making America great again” by showing a termite reporter who’s boss.
Let me break it down for you in the hopes that you can fully understand what happened here.
A powerful multimillionaire who was seeking more power by running to be a representative of the government, brutalized a member of the free press who asked him a question about health care, an issue that is important to Americans who are not powerful millionaires.
He got elected, so now, you have a member of the nation’s ruling party who has assaulted a member of the free press for questioning government policy.
This isn’t about politics, or the media, or accusations of media bias, this is about the first amendment. Our founding fathers, men that you idolize, that you identify as patriots, made sure that a free and unpersecuted press was a cornerstone of our democracy.
What happened between a politician and a reporter in Montana was an affront to the first amendment. It was an example of a member of the governing party in this country physically persecuting a representative of the press.
To those of you who live in Gianforte’s district in Montana, particularly those of you who applaud him for body slamming a reporter: you’re on the wrong side here. You should be siding with the people who are out there working to protect the first amendment. Not those who are body slamming reporters for asking questions. According to census data, Montana’s median household income ranks 38th in the United States. That’s kind of near the bottom. You’re generally not the sort of people who rich and powerful government leaders historically protect.
The reporter in question was asking about your health care. He was asking a question that was in your best interest. If you applauded the brutality against him and still voted for Gianforte, you voted against your interests in several ways, and you’ve stuck the rest of the country with yet another politician who doesn’t care about your right of free speech, your right to petition the government, or the role of a free press in a democratic society.
Folks, if we lose the first amendment, we lose our country.