The wisecrackers at The Onion are pleading with Montana congressional candidate Greg Gianforte to please beat up its reporters because they’re so bad about asking politicians questions.
The tongue-in-cheek cheek provided a bit of comic relief in the stunned wake of Gianforte’s witnessed “body slamming” of a Guardian reporter who dared to ask him about Trumpcare.
GOP billionaire Gianforte was charged with misdemeanor assault after the altercation Wednesday night, the eve of the special election for Montana’s lone congressional seat. He’s running against Democratic folk musician Rob Quist, and polls close Thursday night.
At least three newspapers yanked their endorsement of Gianforte, backed by Donald Trump, after a Fox News crew said they witnessed him grabbing reporter Ben Jacobs by the neck, hurling him to the floor and punching him after the journalist asked him about the Congressional Budget Office report on the GOP health care replacement bill.
The satirical Onion professed total understanding that such questions can be bothersome to politicians from the “power-mad, out-of-control media.” The press, obviously, should “subserviently” provide a “mouthpiece to trumpet the will and intentions of the ruling class without question and without complaint,” it added.
Therefore, The Onion noted, it’s “imperative” that those who “hold the reins of power put us in our place and punish us, preferably with considerable physical force.”
If “any of our journalists have ever made Mr. Gianforte feel threatened in any way ... by holding a recorder too close to his face ... seeking clarification on a point ... we encourage him to use his fists, knees, elbows, or a blunt object of his choice to make it known through repeated physical blows how we have upset him,” The Onion added.
Gianforte was even invited to The Onion’s offices, where he can walk along rows of desks “so that he may assault each and every one of us.”
Few others were laughing. House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) said Gianforte should apologize to Jacobs. The Helena Independent Record declared: “Democracy cannot exist without a free press, and both concepts are under attack by Republican U.S. House Candidate Greg Gianforte.
Gianforte’s camp said the candidate had been provoked to action because Jacobs “shoved a recorder in his face” and grabbed his wrist, which was not supported by witness accounts. Montana’s Democratic governor responded that not only was Gianforte’s assault outrageous, but so was his defense.
“It is unsettling on many levels that Greg Gianforte physically assaulted a journalist and then lied, refusing to take responsibility for his actions,” Gov. Steve Bullock, who defeated Gianforte in his 2016 reelection bid, said in a statement.