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WHCA condemns Trump’s praise of Gianforte assault on Guardian reporter

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donald trump
U.S.
President Donald Trump speaks during a campaign rally at Missoula
International Airport in Missoula, Montana, U.S., October 18,
2018.

Reuters/Jonathan
Ernst


  • The White House Correspondents’ Association accused President
    Donald Trump in a statement of “cheerleading for a violent act
    targeting a free and independent news media.”
  • On Thursday, Trump praised Republican Rep. Greg Gianforte at
    a Montana rally for body-slamming a Guardian reporter in May
    2017.
  • “I said, ‘Oh, this is terrible. He’s going to lose the
    election,” Trump said. “Then I said, ‘Well, wait a minute. I know
    Montana pretty well — I think it might help him.’ And it
    did.”

The White House Correspondents’ Association sharply condemned
President Donald Trump’s praise of a lawmaker who assaulted a
journalist in 2017, accusing Trump of “cheerleading for a violent
act targeting a free and independent news media.”

“All Americans should recoil from the president’s praise for a
violent assault on a reporter doing his Constitutionally
protected job,” WHCA President Olivier Knox said in a statement.
“This amounts to the celebration of a crime by someone sworn to
uphold our laws and an attack on the First Amendment by someone
who has solemnly pledged to defend it.”

Trump had praised Republican Rep. Greg
Gianforte
during a Montana rally on Thursday, calling him “my
guy” for body-slamming Guardian reporter Ben Jacobs during his
campaign.

“And by the way, never wrestle him, you understand that? Never,”
Trump told the audience. “Any guy that can do a body slam, he’s
my guy.”

Trump also recounted his own reaction when he heard about
Gianforte’s assault.

“I said, ‘Oh, this is terrible. He’s going to lose the election,”
Trump said. “Then I said, ‘Well, wait a minute. I know Montana
pretty well — I think it might help him.’ And it did.”

Jacobs had made an audio recording of the May
2017 assault, and three Fox News reporters witnessed the attack.
Jacobs could be heard in the recording trying to ask Gianforte a
question about his position on a Republican healthcare bill
before a scuffle ensued.

“You just body slammed me and broke my glasses,” Jacobs could be
heard saying.

Gianforte eventually pleaded guilty to misdemeanor assault and
was sentenced to 40 hours of community service and 20 hours of
anger-management classes.

Jacobs’ employer, The Guardian, also condemned Trump’s praise of
Gianforte on Thursday.

“To celebrate an attack on a journalist who was simply doing his
job is an attack on the First Amendment by someone who has taken
an oath to defend it.”

Bryan Logan contributed reporting.

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