I guess The Rock knew what he was doing when he began teasing a possible 2020 Presidential run earlier this month. With the latest evidence we have on the state of modern-day politics, someone familiar with bodyslams and pinfalls might have a decided advantage in the political fights to come.
Greg Gianforte, the Republican candidate for Montana’s lone Congressional seat body-slammed Guardian reporter Ben Jacobs last night on the eve of a Special Election. Jacobs was allegedly cutting in on Gianforte’s scheduled interview with a TV station and refused a request to leave the room.
What happened next is still up for debate. Did the reporter “aggressively shove an iPhone” in the candidate’s face, as Gianforte claims; or was he simply asking a tough question in a somewhat-obnoxious way? The audio we have of the event suggests the latter—as does eyewitness testimony from the Fox reporters with whom Gianforte was ready to talk.
The one thing that is NOT in dispute is that Gianforte slammed Jacobs to the ground, breaking his glasses in the process. The reporter suffered only minor injuries.
I know a political campaign can be draining emotionally and physically, especially a campaign that has gotten an undue amount of national and even international attention because of the current political climate. I was a radio newsman for 29 years and I know there are some reporters whose number one goal is to goad a candidate into a “gotcha” moment where they can capture the perfect soundbite that helps them land a more lucrative job. I’ve been around those kinds of reporters and they’ve infuriated ME, and I wasn’t even their target.
But you don’t bodyslam them. Period. Not unless they are physically threatening you. That I would even have to type such a statement is scary. But apparently there is enough support for this repulsive action that some people need reminding. Evidently the lessons we were taught about keeping our hands to ourselves weren’t quite as effective as our parents had hoped.
After news of the incident broke last night, many on the Right responded initially with the “Fake News” mantra they’ve been conditioned to regurgitate. When the evidence quickly suggested such was not the case, they changed tactics and began hailing Gianforte as some sort of macho hero. These are the same people who vilified the AntiFa protestors who violently broke up conservative speeches…and who denigrate those who need “safe spaces” when they don’t like hearing other opinions. Yet another subset is focused on deflection, pointing out some of the horrible things The Left has done in the past—as though that is a valid excuse.
I am often identified as the member of The Right because I support limited government and maximum individual freedom. But if being a member of The Right includes making excuses for unwarranted assault simply because someone is on “my team,” count me out. If it means that I cannot look at a single incident and properly assign blame, based on the political considerations, count me out. I want no membership in a group that is not allowed to think, reason and judge—and to judge each situation on its own merits.
Meantime, the Left is not without fault in this episode. They are busy blaming Trump and the “climate” he created. Their thoughts are now focused on how this will help Democrats regain the House in 2018. Never let a crisis go to waste, I suppose.
As odd as this story is, it seems to superbly illustrate the binary political climate that we have exacerbated over the past several years. Very few can admit that what the candidate did was wrong. And very few can stop themselves from confining the blame to him and him alone.