President Donald Trump is facing harsh criticism from the White House Correspondents’ Association after he praised a Republican Congressman who body slammed a reporter last year.
“All Americans should recoil from the president’s praise for a violent assault on a reporter doing his Constitutionally protected job,” White House Correspondents’ Association 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. We should never shrug at the president cheerleading for a violent act targeting a free and independent news media.”
WHCA Statement on President’s Remarks in Montana pic.twitter.com/vOwn6riBES
— WHCA (@whca) October 19, 2018
Representative Greg Gianforte (R-MT) body-slammed Guardian reporter Ben Jacobs in 2017 after Jacobs asked a question about health care.
At a campaign event in Missoula, Montana on Thursday, Trump said that “any guy who can do a body slam … he’s my guy,” referring to Gianforte. “I shouldn’t say this,” Trump said, adding that “there’s nothing to be embarrassed about.”
Trump told the cheering Montana crowd how he reacted when he heard about the incident.
“Then I said, well wait a minute, I know Montana pretty well, I think it might help him,” Trump said, “And it did.”
Twitter immediately chimed in by blasting Republicans for their hypocritical calls for “civility” as Trump endorses violence against the press.
Is this what they mean by “civility?”
— Lisa Chemberlin (@Lisa_Chemberlin) October 19, 2018
Gee encouraging “ mob violence “ towards a member of the free press all while Donnie Trump refers to the other party as a mob …typical Trumpian projection.
— FORTIS (@fortismind) October 19, 2018
The #MAGA morons don't care. Tomorrow they will all repeat these comments around whatever passes for water coolers at their jobs without a thought about their consequences…..
— Raul A. Maestri, Jr. (@ItsgoodtobeRaul) October 19, 2018
Trump has routinely chided the free press as “the enemy of the people” and has referred to Democrats as a “left-wing mob.” His words in Montana, however, tell a much different story, as the audience cheered when Trump praised Gianforte.
Behold trump and his cult mob ladies and gentlemen!
— Lali Bella Aeyna 🔥 (@AeynaLali) October 19, 2018
I am recoiling at what Trump said and did at this rally. What is wrong with the people in this crowd laughing and cheering an assult of a journalist.
— Kathleen Peterson (@Kathlee88308769) October 19, 2018
Jefferson said it best “When the speech condemns a free press you are hearing the words of a tyrant”
— The Chicago 99ers (@TheChicago99ers) October 19, 2018
— Henrik Schou (@Hesc1007) October 19, 2018
What Trump said is true – Gianforte went on to win a U.S. House seat in a special election while facing legal consequences for his actions.
Gianforte was convicted of misdemeanor assault and received a 180-day deferred sentence. He was also ordered to perform 40 hours of community service, take 20 hours of anger management and pay a $300 fine along with an $85 court fee.
“He took me to the ground,” Jacobs said after the attack. “I think he whaled on me once or twice … He got on me and I think he hit me … This is the strangest thing that has ever happened to me in reporting on politics.”
The WHCA also faced some blowback from people who are tired of the dishonesty emitted from the White House on a near-daily basis.