That's exactly what allegedly happened for Guardian reporter, Ben Jacobs, when he asked Montana Congressional candidate Greg Gianforte a question about the American Health Care Act. Not only did Gianforte refuse to answer the question, he allegedly body slammed the reporter in front of others breaking Jacobs's glasses.
The hotly-contested Montana Congressional special election race should be a walkover for Gianforte who is up against Rob Quist, a banjo-strumming political newcomer, who has raised a ton of cash. After Gianforte's alleged conduct in the encounter with Jacobs, many believe a "closer-than-it-should-be" race may have become even tighter.
Let's put all the politics of this aside and let's be fair and give Gianforte's side of the story. The would-be Congressman, who is running to replace Secretary of the Interior, Ryan Zinke, claims it was Jacobs that provoked the incident by shoving his phone in his face and rudely continuing to ask questions when he was initially rebuffed. He alleges Jacobs grabbed his wrist and somehow that resulted in him being on the floor with a broken pair of glasses.
It makes no sense.
Furthermore, even if it the story did add up, this sort of behavior from a person running for one of the 435 House seats should give folks in Big Sky country pause. Montana has but just one U.S. House seat. That's one representative for the 1.03 million people that live there. Indiana has nine Congressional seats for 6.62 million people. That comes out to one representative for about 735,555 people.
Gianforte's alleged actions are being supported and even condoned on the far right. They see it as a conservative hero allegedly smacking down that liberal media. Gianforte has been charged by police in the case after audio of the alleged events surfaced.
For five seconds, even if I believed Gianforte's version of the story, his reaction to Jacobs questions and demeanor in my view are completely uncalled for. I can't imagine sending someone with the kind of hair trigger that Gianforte appears to have to Washington where it's only going to get worse.
In a larger sense, the lack of respect for reporters and the press is appalling. I'm not saying that there's never been a time that reporters have gone too far in pursuing a story, and the constant spotlight of always being on guard can't be easy. The press, however, has to be allowed to do its job, and journalists should be protected from harm. Often, they are not.
We'll know by tomorrow how Montanans voted.