Trump glorifies GOP candidate for body-slamming journalist

October 22, 2018

At a rally in Missoula, Montana, on October 18, President Donald Trump glorified a local candidate’s physical attack on a U.S. newspaper reporter in May 2017 —hoping to electrify the crowd and mobilize his base’s support in the coming midterm elections.

In urging the crowd to vote for Representative Greg Gianforte (R-Montana)—who punched and body-slammed Ben Jacobs, a Guardian political correspondent—the president jocularly warned the crowd to “never wrestle” with the candidate, The New York Times reported on October 19.

“I had heard he body-slammed a reporter,” Trump said, noting that he was initially concerned that Gianforte would lose in a special election last May. “I said, ‘Wait a minute. I know Montana pretty well; I think it might help him.’ And it did.”

“Anybody that can do a body-slam,” the president added, according to the Times,“that’s my kind of guy.”

In his continuing attacks on the First Amendment—which include slams against the “Fake News” and characterize the U.S. press corps as the “Enemy of the People’—Trump has not paused to mention (or condemn) the murder of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi, a dissident Saudi journalist who disappeared this month after visiting the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul.

Backlash against the president over his attacks on the news media and over his administration’s mild response to allegations that the Saudi government orchestrated the killing has been swift, the Times said. However, there has been no pushback from the GOP base.

Research contact: emily.cochrane@nytimes.com

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