Greg Gianforte wins Montana special election, apologizes for violence against reporter

Greg Gianforte is apologizing for bodyslamming a reporter — now that he's won the election, of course

By Matthew Rozsa
Published May 26, 2017 8:25AM (EDT)
 (AP Photo/Bobby Caina Calvan)
(AP Photo/Bobby Caina Calvan)

Greg Gianforte, the Republican congressional candidate who allegedly bodyslammed a reporter on the eve before a special election in Montana, has apologized for his actions — a day after saying he didn't do anything wrong.

"Last night I made a mistake, and when you make a mistake, you have to own up to it," Gianforte told a supportive crowd in his victory speech. "That's the Montana way. Last night I made a mistake and I took an action that I can't take back and I'm not proud of what happened. I should not have responded in the way that I did and for that I'm sorry."

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Gianforte also specifically apologized to Ben Jacobs, the reporter from The Guardian whom he attacked.

"I should not have treated that reporter that way, and for that I'm sorry Mr. Ben Jacobs," Gianforte told the crowd. "That's not the person I am, and that's not the way I'll lead in this state."

Gianforte campaign's initial response to the Thursday assault wasn't to apologize, but to say that Jacobs was at fault. According to a campaign statement made immediately after the incident, "After asking Jacobs to lower the recorder, Jacobs declined. Greg then attempted to grab the phone that was pushed in his face. Jacobs grabbed Greg's wrist and spun away from Greg, pushing them both to the ground."

He added, "It's unfortunate that this aggressive behavior from a liberal journalist created this scene at our campaign volunteer BBQ."

That, as Jacobs noted Thursday, wasn't true.

It's also worth noting that, despite winning in last night's election, Gianforte significantly underperformed compared to how Republicans fared in Montana during the 2016 general election. The Republican candidate's margin of victory was only 7 percent on Thursday night, compared to 15.8 percent for the Republican candidate November.

Matthew Rozsa

Matthew Rozsa is a staff writer for Salon. He holds an MA in History from Rutgers University-Newark and is ABD in his PhD program in History at Lehigh University. His work has appeared in Mic, Quartz and MSNBC.

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Greg Gianforte Montana Montana Congressional Election Montana Special Election Partner Video Rob Quist