back to article RightNow founder turned politician gets assault charge after 'bodyslamming' reporter

Until Wednesday, Greg Gianforte's life had followed a lovely script: he twice sold software companies for millions, the second time for US$1.5bn when Oracle acquired CRM company RightNow Technologies. Gianforte used the resulting wealth and profile to champion the conservative causes he cares about and last year ran for the …

  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    That will not stop him being elected

    What makes you think that it will stop him to be elected in a country led by a Groper In Chief?

    Unfortunately, civilized behavior and civilization are no longer on the menu.

    1. Ian Michael Gumby Silver badge

      Re: That will not stop him being elected


      It doesn't take a mensa candidate to tell which side your bread is buttered on.

      But I have to ask, when you say 'groper in chief' did you mean Bill Clinton who was actually accused of rape and his wife Hillary went on the attack of the victim? (Oh and while Trump is on wife #3, he's never been accused of rape...) (You can use google to see what's what.)

      But I digress.

      No, its never ok to resort to violence, even as a rude so called journalist is shoving a tape recorder in your face and demanding answers as you try to walk in to your next session.

      Note, I'm not trying to justify the man's actions, however, if someone stuck his hand out in your face, blocking your path and didn't take no, please go away... I wouldn't blame you for body slamming him either.

      Since you, mr. AC, are left leaning, imagine if that Milo Y. character was the reporter and was badgering you and wouldn't stop to leave you alone. What would you do?

      Note: Fox News, which is center-right / right was there and witnessed it. I would take their report as being reliable and thus the politico is being charged. As to making the candidate less electable... remind me how many news stories in the past year show fist fights breaking out in government meetings around the world? Why should the US or UK be held to a higher standard?

      1. GrumpenKraut Silver badge

        Re: That will not stop him being elected

        > Fox News, which is center-right / right

        What? Fox News is not one bit "center" in my book.

        1. Ian Michael Gumby Silver badge

          Re: That will not stop him being elected

          I suggest you actually listen to all of the programs. While I don't agree with their 'Christian Messaging' they are more fair and balanced (actually their words) than the rest of the MSM.

          Also they were right there, witnessed the whole thing and spoke to the police.

          BTW, I'm an independent and in the center. I think I'm a bit more objective that you.

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: That will not stop him being elected

          Uhhh... Fox News is not one bit "right"...ever. But even Fox News knows this, hence why it legally classifies itself as "infotainment" (people forget/ignore this fact).

          Is it just the word "News" in the title that leads you to believe otherwise? If so, don't worry, Alien VS. Predator isn't a credible threat (because Predator is bad ass!!).

      2. Hey Nonny Nonny Mouse

        Re: That will not stop him being elected

        That'd be the same Donald Trump who has been accused of rape by his ex wife, accused of raping a 13 year old and has been accused of sexual harrassment many times, of groping women and was caught on tape bragging about assaulting women?

        Just making sure we're on the same page here.

  2. Arthur the cat Silver badge

    No corruption here, move along

    Gianforte's since been charged with misdemeanor assault, with the Gallatin County Sheriff’s Office finding probably cause for that charge but not felony assault. [My emphasis]

    Which isn't surprising as Brian Gootkin, the County Sheriff, is a Gianforte supporter who's donated money to the campaign.

    1. Ian Michael Gumby Silver badge

      Re: No corruption here, move along

      Wow. I think you really need to take off your political shaded glasses and look at it from an objective point of view. He was charged with Misdemeanor Assault because that best fits what happened. I suggest you look at the relevant laws as well as my response to you below..

      From the recording and eyewitness reports from Fox News.

      The reporter confronted the politician. He put his hand in his face with a recorder and started to ask him questions. The politician first politely said no, and declined to give an answer. He then directed him to talk to someone else. The reporter didn't take no for an answer and continued to attempt to ask more questions. It quickly escalated and the politician took down the reporter. You can hear him getting angry and made reference to an earlier incident.

      Note: This is all evidence. For the prosecution, it details that there was an attack and corroborates witness testimony. For the defense, it shows that he didn't commit aggravated assault.

      "45-5-202. Aggravated assault. (1) A person commits the offense of aggravated assault if the person purposely or knowingly causes serious bodily injury to another or purposely or knowingly, with the use of physical force or contact, causes reasonable apprehension of serious bodily injury or death in another.

      (2) A person convicted of aggravated assault shall be imprisoned in the state prison for a term not to exceed 20 years and may be fined not more than $50,000, except as provided in 46-18-219 and 46-18-222. "

      That's MT law btw.

      Now Misdemeanor Assault is outlined here:

      Note: What occurred fits Misdemeanor Assault more than Felony Assault.

      And again here, he has a decent defense ahead of him. It all depends on what the witnesses say and how they are questioned under oath.

      Does that make sense?

      Learn the law and learn to be objective.

  3. Dan 55 Silver badge

    I'm sorry

    It's just with the still and the audio it all seems a little too like Jonah Ryan from Veep.

    And he'll probably get voted in.

    El Reg's story didn't mention the sherrif seems to have donated money to Gianforte, although not a lot, and Gianforte got off lightly it seems.

    1. Ian Michael Gumby Silver badge

      @Dan ... Re: I'm sorry

      I suggest that you actually learn the law and then decide what charges to bring forward.

      (See my response above)

      Over 90% of the donations made by DoJ officials went to Clinton. Does that alone mean that we could argue that the fix was in? No, the other evidence does, but do you see the point? Political donations do not indicate that there will be personal bias in the case.

      The politician can really put a good spin on this, in light of the fact that he actually committed a misdemeanor assault on the guy.

      BTW, if you actually bothered to look up the law and the statute, he committed misdemeanor assault and even there... he could put up a really good defense against the charges. His defense attorney will have a field day with this.

      Note, I'm not excusing his use of violence or the fact that he lost it. I'm just looking at it from a legal perspective and I bet he'll either get a plea deal, or plead not guilty and attempt to justify it as self defense.

      (Maybe even temporary insanity. He just snapped... )

      Its very likely a jury of his peers would find him not guilty because the Guardian reporter was also behaving like a twat. Imagine if you were walking down the street, and a beggar suddenly rushes up and gets in your face holding out a coffee cup begging for spare change. You say say sorry, no, and try to move on. The beggar blocks your path and you try again to say no and move on. He continues to block you. Honestly, what would you do?

    2. John Gamble

      Re: I'm sorry

      He may indeed get voted in. Montana has early voting, and he may have had a significant vote count before this. Too late for them to change their minds.

      1. Dan 55 Silver badge

        Re: I'm sorry

        He got in.

        Early voting isn't a very good idea.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    American free speech

    You have the right to say anything you want. I have the right to punch you in the face for saying it.

    1. Antron Argaiv Silver badge
      Thumb Up

      Re: American free speech

      A politician who assaults a reporter will not be a politician for long.

      Along with free speech, comes a free press. Many politicians have learned over the years, not to pick a fight with someone who buys ink by the barrel (even if the ink is now bits).

      1. Jason Bloomberg Silver badge

        Re: American free speech

        A politician who assaults a reporter will not be a politician for long.

        I wouldn't bet on it. There are quite a few who believe violence is a perfectly acceptable response, and those exercising it are heroes for not being bound by the 'evil of political correctness'. They aren't going to be swayed by whatever the 'liberal, lying, fake news media for snowflakes' says, free press or not. 'Let them drown in their libtard tears'.

        The pen isn't always mightier than the sword. There are some people who simply won't be swayed by words, argument or any amount of debate.

      2. Ian Michael Gumby Silver badge

        Re: American free speech

        Y'all must not be from around here.

        And you have a sad understanding of free speech or how the mid west / central states view the press.

        If you actually listened to the tape, and read the story on Fox News from the eye witnesses, you see two things.

        First, the reporter was being a twat and intentionally harassing the politician. (He's a Republican candidate and the reporter from the Guardian is from the Left and is ambushing him, trying to goad him in to making an off the cuff statement that he could then use to skewer the politician. ) Also the politician alluded to an earlier incident from the same newspaper as he assaulted the reporter. The truth is that the reporter wanted to rile the guy, but didn't expect that he would get taken out with a body slam.

        A Free Press needs to be objective and unbiased. That's something missing from today's Press.

        We see this in the 90% negative coverage of Trump by CNN as well as the NYT openly setting aside their journalistic integrity and claiming its ok for a journalist to be biased and attack Trump during the election.

        Here in the Midwest, which Clinton LOST, we no longer trust most of the MSM because of their obvious bias.

        Note: This doesn't excuse the politician's actions, however, we don't hold the reporter completely harmless either. When the press starts acting like the press, you'll see a change in our attitude toward the press.

        And no, I'm neither a Trump supporter or a Republican. Its just very obvious the reporter ambushed the guy and was baiting him. Montana isn't Midtown or LA.

        1. Palpy

          Re: Fox News -- fair and unbiased, comrade?

          Ian M -- y'all must not have your minds engaged out there in the Midwest.

          Fox News... aren't they the "infotainment" channel which recently had a "journalist" (something-something Hannity, I think) who was pushing a fake story that could easily be fact-checked with a few clicks online? And either what-'is-name couldn't be bothered to check or he intentionally spread false information. So Fox "journalists" are either bone-lazy, or liars.

          I expect they're both lazy and liars.

          But more to the point: any politician who loses his tiny mind so easily that he jumps a reporter is congenitally unqualified for leadership. He doesn't have the moxie. He doesn't have the control. He doesn't have the cool. Picking that kind of leader is like picking Jerry Sandusky to lead a troop of Boy Scouts on a weekend camp-out -- a really, really bad idea.

          But the guy in question is, like D. Trump, seeing a lot of money flowing in from Russia.

          And that's the back-story you won't see on Fox Infotainment. Ben Jacobs, the reporter whom Gianforte grabbed, had previously reported on Gianforte's Russian investments. Gianforte didn't really like to see that exposed. His investments are not illegal. They're just a clear conflict of interest if he ever votes on policies involving Russia, that's all. So he didn't like seeing them laid out in print, and he had a grudge. And his response was a physical attack. Stupid.

          Look, I realize that Russia is now the darling of the US alt-right patriots. Richard Spencer led the little guys in chants of "Russia is our friend!" in N'Arleans recently. (Love to see those proud bleached-white Americans stabbing their country in the back, don't you?)

          But I suppose a politician wanna-be like Gianforte would like to be a little less obvious about his "divided loyalties" than, say, Donald Trump Jr. ("We see a lot of money flowing in from Russia") or Eric Trump ("Well, we don’t rely on American banks. We have all the funding we need out of Russia"). Hence Gianforte's anger at being exposed by Jacobs. And hence the brawling.

          But he's a fool. You don't brawl before an election. Stupid.

          1. Ian Michael Gumby Silver badge

            Re: Fox News -- fair and unbiased, comrade?


            Name one new organization that doesn't fit that description.

            CNN? Really They earned the name "Clinton News Network"

            ABC? CBS? NBC? Really?

            Fox is better than the rest, however I don't agree with everything they say.

        2. gnasher729 Silver badge

          Re: American free speech

          I think that what people are trying to explain is that if you respond to a reporter baiting you in a way that gets you charged with misdemeanour assault, then everyone should know that you lack judgement and can't be reasonably expected to do your job as a politician well.

          It may very well be that the reporter was a twat baiting him. But if you want to be a politician, you need enough self control that you don't hit such a twat.

    2. Hollerithevo Silver badge

      Re: American free speech

      On the other hand, if you can't stand the heat, get out of the kitchen. A politician has to be able to take flak, because it's part of the job. If your reaction to someone you don't like getting in your face is to attack them, then what about those who voted fro you confronting you over unpopular votes? Are you allowed to punch them, too?

      And, actually, you don't have the right to punch them in the face. You can only use violence if you are under attack. We we have laws against people who use their fists.

  5. Christoph Silver badge

    Trump is already trying to strip reporters of legal protections - maybe he'll add a law that makes it OK to assault reporters who ask questions you don't like.

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    America, Fuck Yeah!

    "Republican health bill to leave 23m uninsured - It would also impose deep cuts on the government's Medicaid health plan for the poor and disabled."

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: America, Fuck Yeah!

      health insurance is a scam. they make you jump through all kinds of loops before finally denying you your benifits. they take it from you at the front door and leave you crying when they leave through the back door.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: health insurance is a scam.

        Indeed. A state managed service like the NHS is the only sensible way to provision health care.

        1. Ian Michael Gumby Silver badge

          Re: health insurance is a scam.

          Anonymous Coward

          Reply Icon

          Re: health insurance is a scam.

          Indeed. A state managed service like the NHS is the only sensible way to provision health care.

          Then why is the NHS broken?

          Please don't say it isn't. I spent some time over on that side of the pond and watched the morning telly where they detailed all of the problems. And then I have a friend who had to wait 6 months in order to see someone for PT (physio) for their back where as I, here in the states, could see someone the next day.

          1. Jason Bloomberg Silver badge

            Re: health insurance is a scam.

            Then why is the NHS broken?

            Because it has a capacity and throughput problem - which cannot be blamed on immigration.

            There are multiple problems; from people living longer, having more complex medical issues, requiring higher costs to treat, our being able to do more than ever before, and having limited resources to it.

            We are running hospitals at capacity with no give, and some beds are blocked because some patients cannot be moved out when they should be. That's probably the number one problem at present for operative hospital care.

            For A&E that's mostly a failing in GP services. It is almost impossible to get a doctor's appointment; call in at 8:00am, hope you win the lottery for a 5 minute appointment, arrive and find everything is running an hour late because cases take far longer than scheduled. People who are sick and want help simply go to A&E where they expect a return on all that money they handed over via taxes and NI. It's not much to expect. But A&E was never designed as first point of call for what GPs should be dealing with. Having GP or walk-in GP services at Hospitals may be the way forward there; A&E-lite.

            But there's no simple or instant solution, and it's more than an issue of money. That it's broken now is because the issues have not been dealt with, have been allowed to grow worse and allowed to become critical.

            Considering how badly broken it is - and we all know it is - it is still my view that it's still better than any health insurance scheme. If the NHS turned people away at the door, threw them out on the streets when done, it could probably fix things pretty quickly. I'm glad it doesn't and I hate that health insurance is simply a means to provide for doing exactly that.

      2. Hollerithevo Silver badge

        Re: America, Fuck Yeah!

        Except that millions of Americans are horrified that 'pre-existing conditions' and other things allowed in under ACA are being dropped. Seems healthcare insurance, as it was under the ACA did help people, or they wouldn't be screaming when it is being taken away.

    2. Phukov Andigh Bronze badge

      Re: America, Fuck Yeah!

      too bad people are still dumb enough to believe that "health insurance == health care".

      paying backroom deals to "insure" millions of people that cannot actually get services they need is not helping anyone except the insurance industry. the same industry that it was politically correct to hate on for good reasons until a certain Party and its allies wanted them seen as heroes.

      Now that "10 thousand dollar toilet seat" is billed thru government managed (ha!) insurance instead of a military contract. Except the Media made damned sure we knew about and that the hammer was delivered and if anything ever failed on that hammer. the overchargings of government managed (gets funnier every time I hear it!) insurance well, almost dead silence.

      Even funnier is listening to almost all the same Protestors STILL claiming they had no coverage over the last year or so, demanding FURTHER government managed (snicker!) and funded programs to do all the things they claimed support for ACA was going to fix. Because it was painfully obvious that insurance wasn't care.

      What is needed is CARE. But politically, NOBODY is actually working on that.

      But back on topic, punching a reporter is dumb. the best thing to do is simply convince him that talking bad about a certain Party will end in a "suicide" or convenient murder in a back alley, or failing that, spew any embarassing details about his life, made up or not, and destroy his career.

      Because people seem to believe That Which Is Not Reported Does Not Exist. Even when they personally experience otherwise.

  7. Daedalus Silver badge

    He made one mistake

    To deal properly with aggressive reporters - and apparently this one came into a room where Gianforte was prepping for a Fox News interview and stuck a mike in his face - you keep some muscle around so you don't have to do your own corrective action.

    It's hard not to sympathize with Gianforte. Journalists in the USA think that something called the First Amendment gives them the right to go anywhere and do anything. TPTB have occasionally exploited this with things like "perp walks" that exploit the desire for pictures, quotes, anything that can get into print or on video. The so-called journalist - more like a blogger - who tried it on with the guy from the FCC in DC was a similar case: outside the conference proper, aggressive in a public space. Maybe he'll think twice next time too.

    Notice members of certain notorious crime-oriented organizations don't get this treatment. I wonder why.

    1. Dan 55 Silver badge

      Re: He made one mistake

      Yeah, in both cases it was the reporters on the receiving end who were aggressive.

      Have you got your Worzel Gummidge head on backwards today?

    2. davenewman

      Re: He made one mistake

      The reporter was Ben Jacobs from the Guardian. It all took place in public. See the report on Boing Boing. Why do you make up lies about the assault, Daedalus?

      And in any case, two wrongs don't make a right. Just because someone is close to you or even shouting, doesn't give you the right to hit them. It is time politicians with too much testosterone were cured the same way a farmer deals with an agressive bull.

      1. Daedalus Silver badge

        Re: He made one mistake

        'Another witness, BuzzFeed’s Alexis Levinson, said: “Ben walked into a room where a local TV crew was set up for an interview with Gianforte,” '

        - from the New York Times

      2. Ian Michael Gumby Silver badge

        @Dave Newman Re: He made one mistake

        I suggest you actually listen to the tape of the incident.

        Ben Jacobs did ambush him and didn't take no for an answer.

        As to having the right to take down Ben, it depends. We don't have video so we don't know how close Ben was to the politician. Was he invading his space? While the politician has been charged with misdemeanor assault, there are some charges that could be lobbied at Jacobs as well.

        IMHO, its time so called journalists understand that when you attempt to ambush someone and try to goad them in to giving you an off the cuff response that you can then attack... you may get a fist in your face.

    3. sabroni Silver badge

      Re: It's hard not to sympathize with Gianforte

      Bollocks. It's easy to not sympathise with him. He's a politician who can't handle awkward questions, and as such totally unsuited for the role he's going for.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        @Sabroni Re: It's hard not to sympathize with Gianforte

        Ever spend time in the military and have a DI stand less than 6" from your face screaming at you?

        Or in college were you in a Fraternity during hell week?

        Or participated in a sport like Crew and went thru hell week where you have a coach or upperr class man in your face screaming at you trying to get you to screw up so you'd have to do more pushups and run more laps or stairs...

        I bet you that if I got in your face and harassed you asking you pointless questions and ignoring your answer, trying to goad you into saying something that I could then use to ridicule you... you'd get mad too.

        Trust me. I could easily get in your face, and harass you to the point you'd want to punch me in mine

    4. Ian Michael Gumby Silver badge

      @ Daedalus Re: He made one mistake

      You're getting a lot of down votes because people just don't understand the facts and that some people have a short fuse.

      The recording not only details the attack but also that the politician answer the guy's question and attempted to move on. He then lost it and while taking the guy down, he said something quite interesting...

      That this wasn't the first time a guardian reporter tried to confront and goad him in to making an off the cuff statement.

      You can bet those in MT who are going to vote for the guy regardless of this incident.

      As a fellow mid-westerner I have no sympathy for the twat reporter, although I think the politician could have handled it better.

      1. Public Citizen

        Re: @ Daedalus He made one mistake

        Replying late as I seem to be getting The Register many hours after publication.

        As I type this Gianforte has already been declared the winner.

        Something that seems to be missing from the report here is that the reporter was trespassing at the point when the alleged assault took place. Please not the use of the word alleged. Under US Law Mr. Gianforte is innocent until proven guilty in a court of law, a court where ~all~ of the facts, including the place and circumstances, will be weighed and examined before a judgement is rendered.

        Some other things to be cognizant of, in the US, The Guardian is generally viewed as a tabloid publication. This Guardian reporter has a "history" with respect to Mr. Gianforte, in that this isn't the first time he has pushed the boundaries of acceptable behaviour [even for reporters] in an attempt to get a story related to this campaign.

        1. Daedalus Silver badge

          Re: @Public Citizen @ Daedalus He made one mistake

          If the Grauniad is now a tabloid then things have indeed gone to pot in the old country. Back in the day it was a liberal to mildly lefty broadsheet, and much liked by the granola brigade who couldn't bear the Times or the Telegraph. However if the web site is anything to go by, they're just as fond of clickbait as any of the other British rags.

      2. gnasher729 Silver badge

        Re: @ Daedalus He made one mistake

        "As a fellow mid-westerner I have no sympathy for the twat reporter, although I think the politician could have handled it better."

        Well, I'm all for law and order. The law says: Misdemeanour assault (had he punched hard enough then it would have been felony assault). To keep order, he needs to be taken to court, charged, and convicted accordingly. And I like the "three strikes out" rule. If he punches another journalist, he'll have to be veeeery careful or risk a life sentence on the third violent offence.

  8. bleedinglibertarian

    never heard of him but

    I'm definitely using my Montana address to vote for him now. he's like John Wayne and that i can respect. :)

    1. Phukov Andigh Bronze badge

      Re: never heard of him but

      not The Duke, but a more modern hero: Buzz Aldrin.

    2. Hollerithevo Silver badge

      Re: never heard of him but

      I guess he's more like a movie hero (given that John Wayne was an actor playing a tough cowboy, or indeed Genghis Khan) and so you can respect him? Even though he is going to vote to take many, many people in his state off any form of affordable health? I lived just north of Montana, and I know the prairie/cowboy mindset. Guys figure they are acting on old-fashioned principled when they are just stiff-necked reactionaries who hope that looking like lone-men-with-a-gun gives them a dignity and standing they don't have, because in fact they are rural, not well off, unimportant, and sidelined. Their new senator does not give a f*ck about them, nor do the folks in Washington. They will be taxed higher and have fewer services to allow tax breaks for the super-rich, and this was never a position the original cowboys and pioneers thought the American Dream was all about. My heart bleeds for these hard-working rural guys, but I also scream with frustration that they consistently vote against their own interests.

  9. Whiznot

    Gianforte is a Bryon (Low Tax) Looper wannabee.

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Isaac Asimov quote

    Violence is the last refuge of the incompetent.

    Looking at all these post seems we have all forgoten this truth...

    1. James O'Shea Silver badge

      Re: Isaac Asimov quote

      And the less-known, but often apt (though not in this case, the Montana Mountain Man was a twit) comment on that:

      "If violence is called for, only the incompetent wait until the last resort before applying it. By that time it is usually too late for anything, even prayer, to be effective."

      Examples of people using violence to achieve worthy goals abound in history; see further 'American Civil War', 'Second World War', many others. Note that in the two examples I used, the boys who ended up losing were the ones to start the violence.

      No doubt there might be those who think that stopping slavery or fascism were not worthy causes. I find those kind of people to be... deplorable.

  11. DougS Silver badge

    Unlikely to change the outcome

    Reportedly 250,000 absentee ballots have already been received, and about 400,000 total votes are expected. Polls had him winning by anywhere from 3-8 points, so if the polls are right and that's about the split in the votes already cast, there would need to be nearly a 2:1 vote against him today to swing the election.

    He'll be extra vulnerable in the 2018 election that is already looking bad for republicans. No doubt there will be plenty of ads in Montana reminding people of this incident during next summer's campaign.

    1. John Gamble

      Re: Unlikely to change the outcome

      And depending on his district's beliefs, this might be of interest as well:

      Gianforte, 56, is a billionaire businessman who sold his company, RightNow Technologies, in 2011 and apparently now spends his time funneling money toward the Glendive Dinosaur and Fossil Museum, which publishes a newsletter explaining that "the Biblical worldview is consistent with the scientific evidence we find in the fossil record" and argues that dinosaurs rode on Noah's Ark.

      1. James O'Shea Silver badge

        Re: Unlikely to change the outcome

        Super. Just super. A creationist cretin Montana Mountain Man. Why am I not surprised?

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