Journalists and press freedom advocates react to alleged assault on reporter

Journalists and politicians are speaking out about the treatment of the press following the alleged assault of a political reporter at the hands of the Republican candidate in Montana’s congressional special election — though not all are in agreement and some appeared split along partisan lines.

Greg Gianforte was charged with misdemeanor assault Wednesday after Guardian reporter Ben Jacobs said the GOP candidate body slammed him to the ground. Jacobs said he was attempting to ask the congressional candidate a question about his response to the Congressional Budget Office‘s analysis of the American Health Care Act.

The Radio Television Digital News Association released a statement condemning the incident on Thursday morning.

“If the criminal charges are proven true, this would be an outrageous escalation of the recent trend toward elected officials and those seeking elected office obstructing and even, now, assaulting reporters who are merely trying to do their jobs,” said Dan Shelley, the incoming executive director of the RTDNA in the statement.

The Committee to Protect Journalists, an organization that advocates for press freedom around the world, said that the incident “sends an unacceptable signal that physical assault is an appropriate response to unwanted questioning by a journalist,” in a release.

The sentiment was echoed by the Freedom of the Press Foundation which said, in part, “The First Amendment is supposed to guarantee the right for journalists to report information without fear of retaliation by government official, so it’s very disturbing that a potential member of Congress believes that the appropriate response to critical coverage is physical assault.”

The U.S. editor of Jacob’s employer, The Guardian, put out a statement Wednesday evening expressing support Jacobs.

“The Guardian is deeply appalled by how our reporter, Ben Jacobs, was treated in the course of doing his job as a journalist while reporting on the Montana…

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