'The Guardian' journalist Ben Jacobs says Republican candidate Greg Gianforte "body-slammed him on Wednesday night after asking him a question about health care

By Oliver Gettell
May 24, 2017 at 10:12 PM EDT
Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Celebrities expressed shock and outrage on social media Wednesday evening when a Guardian journalist reported he was manhandled by the Republican candidate for Montana’s congressional seat after asking him a question about health care.

Political reporter Ben Jacobs alleged that Greg Gianforte, a tech millionaire running for the seat vacated by Ryan Zinke, “body-slammed” him at Gianforte’s campaign headquarters near Bozeman, Montana, breaking Jacobs’ glasses in the process. The Guardian posted an audio recording of the altercation, in which a crash is heard before Gianforte starts yelling.

“I’m sick and tired of you guys!” Gianforte shouted after being asked about the House GOP bill to repeal and replace Obamacare. “The last time you came here, you did the same thing. Get the hell out of here!”

The audio is below.

Gianforte’s staff initially denied the interaction was the fault of the GOP congressional hopeful, despite the recording. “After asking Jacobs to lower the recorder, Jacobs declined,” Shane Scanlon, a spokesperson for Gianforte, said in a statement. “Greg then attempted to grab the phone that was pushed in his face. Jacobs grabbed Greg’s wrist and spun away from Greg, pushing them both to the ground.”

Reporters from Fox News were at the scene and corroborated Jacobs’ account, explaining, “Gianforte grabbed Jacobs by the neck with both hands and slammed him into the ground behind him” and “began punching the reporter.”

Gianforte was charged with assault for the attack later in the evening.

Before that, some early voices weighing in on Twitter included Marvel star Chris Evans, who wrote, “I thought this was a joke when I first read it. It’s not. This is crazy.”

Musician Questlove tweeted “What The” surrounded by exclamation points.

And Brooklyn Nine-Nine star Chelsea Peretti blamed President Trump for setting an “anti-journalist tone,” adding, “look how it ripples into assault (same goes for race / hate crimes, etc). He’s poisonous.”

Read more reactions below.