October 23, 2017

Montana Republicans are really into beating up journalists


Greg Gianforte, sitting on a thing and making a face that seems to say, “When I sit on this thing I like to curl my upper lip against my front teeth like so.”

Back in May, we reported on Greg Gianforte, the Montana businessperson who had just beaten the very likeable Rob Quist for that state’s sole seat in Congress. The victory was mostly unsurprising—like Montana’s previous four congresspeople, Gianforte is a Republican, and local media were referring to him as a “leading candidate” from from the moment he declared his run. Still, for a minute it had seemed he might lose: the week of the election, Gianforte had beaten up Ben Jacobs, a Guardian reporter who’d approached him with a perfectly polite policy question. Grabbed him by the throat, threw him to the ground, and busted his glasses, while verbally berating him.

Then, Gianforte won by 20,000 votes anyway, confirming what we really already knew: We live in hell now.

To show his subsequent contrition, Congressman Smash pleaded guilty to assault, pretended to agree to an interview with Jacobs, pretended to agree to a discussion with the Committee to Protect Jounralists, and then got to work in Washington, privatizing public lands, raising lots of money, having his first name taken off buildings, fighting for forced childbirth, and failing to keep his mugshot out of public view.

This weekend, Gianforte’s name was back in the news thanks to comments made by another Montana Republican. Karen Marshall is the vice-president of programs at the Gallatin County Republican Women, an organization that “promotes integrity, virtue, and honesty in government” and “stands by the principles of freedom, equality, and justice on which the government of this country is founded.” Last Thursday, Marshall called into Voice of Montana, a political radio show, and, addressing the party where Gianforte introduced Jacobs to his two fists, “First” and “Amendment,” said this:

“I was there. I’m a friend of Greg’s. If that kid had done to me what he did to Greg, I would have shot him.”

(Again, as a recording makes clear, what “that kid” (Jacobs is in his thirties and has a law degree from Duke) was doing was asking a candidate for federal office a question about policy.)

Holly K. Michels reports for the Helena Independent Record that Marshall has been confirmed as the caller who made the remarks, and relates that she hung up on a journalist who called her Friday morning, declaring, “I don’t really speak to reporters.” (At least she didn’t threaten to shoot them.)

As a public service, we offer the following sampling of Montana Republican Party plans for responding to instances of journalistic overreach:

Journalist asks candidate a policy question: Karen Marshall shoots journalist.

Journalist successfully procures documents through the Freedom of Information Act: Karen Marshall leads a stampede of elite, armored elephants through journalist’s home town. Greg Gianforte punches one third of local population.

Journalist discovers inconsistencies in politician’s record, confronts them: Karen Marshall launches a series of nuclear strikes on strategic targets worldwide, surgically depriving journalist of favored commodities produced in those places. Greg Gianforte punches every American once in the face, and leaves flaming turd-bags on two-thirds of America’s stoops.

Journalist connects several dots, uncovering widespread hypocrisy and corruption: Using a crowbar, Karen Marshall unseals an ancient sarcophagus, revealing a swirling miasma of spirits cursed to a vile eternity of billowing hatred. Uttering a long-forgotten and unholy incantation, she directs the spirits to haunt the journalist and everyone they’ve ever met. If anyone enters a museum or antiquarian bookshop looking for countermagic, Greg Gianforte punches them. If anyone appeals to a secret, ascetic lineage of sworn protectors that has, for generations, preserved the balance and maintained the peace, Greg Gianforte finds those protectors. Then, he punches them.

Journalist transforms our awareness of how Montana state government business is conducted: Karen Marshall designs a time machine, travels into the past, and cups her hands over the Big Bang, preventing the moment of creation from ever taking place. Journalism, Montana, and noble human yearning cease to have ever existed — or, more exactly, the eventuality of their existence is retroactively undone, so that they don’t cease to have existed so much as existence itself is redefined as a phenomenon of their absence; being becomes that which they are not. Without the Big Bang, the universe consists of a single, infinitely dense particle, charged with all the unignited  potentiality of all of creation. Greg Gianforte punches it.



Ian Dreiblatt is the director of digital media at Melville House.