During the Thursday morning broadcast of Fox News’ Fox & Friends, host Jillian Mele ignored Fox News reporter Alicia Acuna’s eyewitness account of Montana Republican congressional candidate Greg Gianforte’s assault of Guardian reporter Ben Jacobs, choosing instead to parrot Gianforte’s false claim that he was the victim.
Acuna said she witnessed Gianforte grab the reporter by the neck with both hands, throw him to the ground, then repeatedly punched him.
“Gianforte grabbed Jacobs by the neck with both hands and slammed him into the ground behind him,” Acuna wrote. “Faith, Keith and I watched in disbelief as Gianforte then began punching the reporter. As Gianforte moved on top of Jacobs, he began yelling something to the effect of, ‘I’m sick and tired of this!'”
“Jacobs scrambled to his knees and said something about his glasses being broken. He asked Faith, Keith and myself for our names. In shock, we did not answer,” Acuna continued. “Jacobs then said he wanted the police called and went to leave. Gianforte looked at the three of us and repeatedly apologized. At that point, I told him and Scanlon, who was now present, that we needed a moment. The men then left.”
Acuna added that “at no point did any of us who witnessed this assault see Jacobs show any form of physical aggression toward Gianforte.”
Mele omitted any mention of Acuna’s eyewitness account, instead she reporting the campaign’s claim that Jacobs “tried to push a phone in [Gianforte’s] face” and that “the men both fell,” reports Media Matters.
Watch Thursday morning’s broadcast of Fox News’ Fox & Friends, below:
Gianforte has been charged with misdemeanor assault, according to the Gallatin County Sheriff’s Office.
“Following multiple interviews and an investigation by the Gallatin County Sheriff’s Office it was determined there was probable cause to issue a citation to Greg Gianforte for misdemeanor assault,” the sheriff’s office said in a statement on its website Wednesday night.
The statement added that the “nature of the injuries did not meet the statutory elements of felony assault.”
The Guardian published audio of the alleged assault which appears to directly contradict a statement issued by the Greg Gianforte campaign shortly after the incident.
Gianforte’s statement claimed Jacobs entered a private office “without permission” and attributed the incident to “aggressive behavior from a liberal journalist.”
Gianforte's statement: pic.twitter.com/WVNdA1yZ8w
— Kyle Cheney (@kyledcheney) May 25, 2017
Media Matter’s transcript of the above Fox & Friends report:
JILLIAN MELE: Hours before the polls open in the Montana special election, a GOP congressional candidate is charged with assault. Greg Gianforte defending himself after he’s accused of body-slamming a Guardian reporter. The candidate says that reporter tried to push a phone in his face before this happened.
GREG GIANFORTE: We’ll talk to you about that later.
BEN JACOBS: Yeah but there’s not going to be time. I was just curious if you —
GIANFORTE: OK, speak with Shane please.
JACOBS: But you don’t —
GIANFORTE: I’m sick and tired of you guys! The last guy who came in here you did the same thing!
MELE: Quite a scene. Gianforte’s campaign says the men both fell. Thirty percent of the vote has already been cast in the special election to fill Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke’s open House seat.