Thursday, May 25, 2017

GOP candidate sparks disbelief for assaulting journalist in Montana, but it shouldn't be a shock; we've been the victims of such brutality in two states

Greg Gianforte
(From Washington Examiner)
A Republican Congressional candidate from Montana was arrested yesterday for misdemeanor assault after allegedly body slamming a reporter from a British newspaper. Our response, on the reporter's behalf? Welcome to the club, pal.

Greg Gianforte, a tech millionaire, is running in a special election for Montana's seat in the U.S. House of Representative. During a press session yesterday, Gianforte apparently took exception to questions from The Guardian reporter Ben Jacobs and slammed Jacobs to the ground. Jacobs was transported via ambulance to a nearby hospital, but his primary injury apparently was winding up with broken glasses. Journalists from multiple news outlets, including Fox News and BuzzFeed, witnessed the incident and confirmed Jacobs' account of what happened.

The election, with Gianforte running against Democrat Rob Quist, is today, so it won't take long to determine if an assault charge hurts a Republican's chances in Montana. Our guess is that it won't hurt Gianforte one bit, and he will wind up winning the seat left vacant when Ryan Zinke resigned to join Donald Trump’s Cabinet as secretary of the Interior Department.

Normally, I would be outraged at such brutality used against a journalist, or anyone, for that matter. But I've seen this kind of thuggery in an up close and personal way. It has been used in both Alabama and Missouri against my wife and me, and compared to our experiences, Jacobs got off lucky. The Montana incident has been portrayed as "unprecedented" or sparked by Donald Trump's attacks on the press. But neither of those characterizations is true, and I know from firsthand experience.

I was thrown three times to the concrete floor of my own garage, doused with pepper spray, and hauled to the Shelby County Jail in Alabama for a five-month stay. That was in October 2013, and it made me the first U.S. journalist since 2006 to be incarcerated -- and apparently the only one in U.S. history to be jailed because of an unlawful preliminary injunction in a defamation case. What was my crime? Reporting accurately about an extramarital affair involving a GOP political figure and a lobbyist.

More recently, in September 2015, a Missouri deputy body slammed my wife to the ground during an unlawful eviction and yanked so viciously on her limbs that he snapped the bone in her upper left arm, just above the elbow. The break was so severe that it required trauma surgery for repair; doctors determined that regular orthopedic surgery would not get the job done.

And get this: Carol was arrested on January 30, 2017, and charged with assaulting a law enforcement officer. You heard that correctly: The victim of an assault by cops now stands charged with assaulting a cop. We've received a number of documents related to discovery in the case, and the falsehoods told by Missouri deputies will shock anyone who has a conscience. (A number of posts about those bogus documents will be coming soon.)

Perhaps most shocking is this: The Probable Cause Statement and Misdemeanor Information in the case show that, on their faces there were no grounds to arrest and incarcerate Carol, much less make her stand trial. So far, Judge Margaret Holden Palmietto has refused to consider Motions to Dismiss until Carol has a lawyer, and Carol wound up with a public defender (PD), whom we've never met, after the judge forced her to fill out a PD application. What was Carol's real "crime"? Being married to me, a journalist.

Republican brutality against a journalist is not as new as some experts might think. A professor at Carroll College in Montana yesterday called the Gianforte incident "unprecedented." From a report about Prof. Jeremy Johnson's take on the assault:

Johnson said he couldn’t think of any precedent for what happened Wednesday night a little over 24 hours before voting ends in the first U.S. House special election Montana has held since the 1960s. The 85-day campaign has been unlike any seen in the state, drawing more spending during a very compressed cycle than the November race for the seat.

Huffington Post portrayed the Gianforte incident as spillover from Donald Trump's attacks on the press. From the HuffPo piece, by Michael Calderone, titled "GOP Candidate’s Attack On Reporter Shows Peril Of Asking Questions In Trump’s America":

On Wednesday evening, Montana Republican congressional candidate Greg Gianforte slammed Guardian reporter Ben Jacobs to the floor as Jacobs tried to ask his view on GOP health care legislation.

As Jacobs and a Fox News crew told it, it was a shocking assault on a reporter just one day before a special election to fill the state’s lone House seat.

But it was hardly an isolated occurrence. In the past three weeks, political reporters have described being arrested, pinned against a wall, slapped, and now body slammed ― all this in a nation where freedom of the press is enshrined in the Constitution.

Alaska Dispatch News reporter Nathaniel Herz told police earlier this month that Republican state Sen. David Wilson slapped him during an encounter over a recent story.

West Virginia reporter Dan Heyman was arrested on May 10 while trying to ask a question of Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price, who later praised police for their handling of the situation.

And last week, CQ Roll Call reporter John M. Donnelly said he was pinned against a wall by security guards after trying to ask a Federal Communications Commission member a question in Washington.

The Johnson and Calderone takes are intriguing, but they are more than a little off target. Johnson claims the Montana incident is "unprecedented" -- but it isn't. I was assaulted for being a journalist more than three years ago, and Carol was beaten for being married to a journalist roughly 20 months ago -- and we both were injured much more severely than was The Guardian's Jacobs.

Calderone suggests the Montana incident is peculiar to the Trump era -- except that it isn't. Carol and I both were brutalized while Barack Obama was president -- and my case received international news coverage. But we never saw any sign that the Obama justice department would look into terrorism against journalists and their family members.

About the only difference between what happened last evening in Montana and our experiences is this: In Alabama and Missouri, corrupt GOP political figures get law enforcement to do their dirty work for them; in Montana, Gianforte took matters into his own hands.

Here is another major difference: Gianforte, who is not a "state actor," is facing a misdemeanor under Montana law. The cop/thugs in our cases committed federal crimes -- 18 U.S. Code 242, Deprivation of Rights Under Color Law -- and we soon will be filing criminal complaints with the U.S. attorneys in the appropriate federal districts.

Why was Gianforte so sensitive about questions from a Guardian reporter? Perhaps it's because the newspaper had reported previously on his investments in Russian index funds.

It's hard to see how Gianforte is going to get off on an assault charge, and he's likely to cough up a bundle in a civil case. When that happens, don't be surprised if GOP politicos take a page from the Alabama/Missouri playbook -- they will start getting cops to rough up journalists for them. Carol and I know exactly how that works.

Here is a video that includes audio of the body slamming incident in Montana:


Anonymous said...

Montana’s Gianforte Donated to White Nationalists, Anti-Government Extremists

"In 2014 and 2016, Gianforte donated $170 to Republican state Rep. Theresa Manzella, who not only endorsed the armed occupation of the Malheur Wildlife Refuge, but connected her praise to an armed anti-government wing of the Tea Party. Manzella described the occupation on her Facebook page:

The movement has begun. The people are taking a stand and making their point in no uncertain terms. They fully intend to reclaim the public land for multiple use on behalf of the state, as is prescribed in our Constitution. I applaud their determination. They are definitely the Three Percent."

"Gianforte donated $170 to and received a donation from Robert Saunders, a Billings legislative candidate who had to issue an apology in the midst of his campaign after posting to Facebook that citizens should have fired “two rounds through the brain” of protesters in Ferguson, Missouri, because “elimination of those people in self-defense would probably have cut Missouri’s welfare handouts—and long-term crime rate—considerably.”

During his campaign for the Montana Legislature, college classmates of Saunders told the Billings Gazette that he had said President Obama and his family should be “sent back to the fields to pick cotton” and that he told a Black student that 100 years earlier, he would have owned her."

legalschnauzer said...

@12:32 --

Thanks for sharing. Very interesting information. So Gianforte has ties to white nationalists? He should fit in well with Jeff Sessions.

Anonymous said...

Sounds like Montana is Alabama with crappy weather.

Anonymous said...

Heck, Schnauzer, you were on the leading edge of this trend -- you know the one where journalists get beaten up for asking questions or writing stories. Congrats!

legalschnauzer said...

@12:37 --

Thanks. It's a nice "honor," but it doesn't make me feel as good as you might think.

Anonymous said...

Montana is Alabama without sweet tea and all the good looking women.

legalschnauzer said...

@12:40 --

You made me snort coke out of my nose (coca-cola, BTW). Alabama, in my view (and I've "viewed" a lot) has more good looking women per capita than any state in the country -- far superior to "California Girls," no matter how much the Beach Boys sing about them. Quite a few of the Alabama babes might not be the brightest (they vote GOP), and they might not be worth the trouble that comes along with them . . . but good looking, absolutely.

BTW, I have a theory about why Alabama has so many good looking women, but it's not exactly politically correct, so I best keep it to myself.

Anonymous said...


The lack of sweet tea probably means the Montana Trumpsters have more teeth than Alabama Trumpsters.

Anonymous said...

Since when have you ever been PC, Schnauzer? Tell us your theory?

legalschnauzer said...

@2:58 --

OK, you forced me, so I will have to blame you for any blow back I get.

Here is my theory on why women in Alabama (and other Southern states) are so good looking:

Having lived in Alabama for 36 years, I picked up on this tendency of white folks to have "concerns" about the sexual prowess of black folks. This generally seems to focus on the mysterious sexual powers of black males, but I realized a few years ago that it also includes the mysterious sexual powers of black females.

My theory, based on absolutely zero research or factual framework, is that white women (living in close proximity to large numbers of black women) have come to fear that said black women will use their mysterious powers to steal away white men folk. Based on Darwinism, I propose that white women in the Deep South have "evolved" to become exceptionally good looking as a way to keep their men folk from straying.

Here's the flip side: If you travel to heavy-majority white states, where white women do not live near heavy concentrations of black women, the white women tend to "let themselves go" and become relatively homely (ouch, I'm going to catch flack for that word) in comparison to their babelicious brethren in the South.

So there you have it: Legal Schnauzer's theory on why the South is home to an unusually high percentage of white babes. (And I must add, high numbers of black babes, as well; can't really explain that one, unless black women have some desire to attract white men. Based on the white men I've known in the South -- excluding me, of course -- I see no reason why black women would particularly care one way or another.)

BTW, I've shared this theory with Mrs. Schnauzer many times, and she still married me. She does roll her eyes every time I break it out, but she likes the part about homely women in the North. This all reminds me of a woman in Alaska who spoke the following words: "I've found that the farther north I go, the better looking I get." Sort of goes in line with my theory. And that line still makes me honk and snort every time I think of it.

@2:58, please send your name and contact information, so I can forward any and all complaints to you. I can't take responsibility for this nutty theory; it was just my idea.

e.a.f. said...

The Republican party has become the party of thugs. We saw Trump display it ever so nicely in Brussels and we have Gianforte doing it in Montana. these are a class of people who think they rank above every one and they need to be respected, listened to, and obeyed. they are the ones in charge. Sort of like the President of Turkey and Egypt.

gianforte got himself elected. Now there will be one more bad mannered thug in Congress. the people of the U,.S.A. will have no one to blame but themselves when they find them selves without even the thin social safety net they currently have. These men remind me of the robber barons of a couple of centuries ago. they feel they are entitled to every thing and anything because they are rich.

you can not save those who will not be saved. the people of Montana demonstrated that ever so well.

in other countries they work to throw off the yoke of oppression. Americans vote for it and welcome it.