Media overplayed hand trying to connect Trump to Gianforte
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It's the kind of cheap and easy narrative 2017 media is all too predictable in pushing with a three-step process.

A GOP candidate (Greg Gianforte) running in a Montana special election loses it when a reporter comes into his office uninvited, and allegedly assaults said reporter (Ben Jacobs of The Guardian), breaking his glasses in the confrontation.

The reaction, as it should be, is swift from other journalists on social media, condemning Gianforte while showing support for Jacobs. Add me to that list.

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But step three in this process is a classic case of overplaying one's hand, as the narrative now is that President Trump is ultimately to blame for Gianforte's actions.

From there, the clips and quotes show Trump berating the media, calling it everything from "fake news" to "dishonest hacks" to "scum." His beef comes from the fact that he's been treated more negatively and poorly than any president in history by a country mile. And in a related story, every study done on the topic supports that claim.

But to make that jump, a jump that says Gianforte somehow had Trump as a devil on his right shoulder right out of the Pinto scene in Animal House telling him what to do at the exact moment he allegedly decided to "body slam" the reporter (an account backed up by a Fox News reporting team), is why so many distrust the media. Gallup had the numbers at 86 percent of Republicans and 70 percent of independents in last year's media/distrust annual poll, and for good reason.

Gianforte allegedly attacked Jacobs. He received a misdemeanor assault citation. His actions may ultimately impact the election on tap for today, where a Republican losing in deep-red Montana would be a huge indictment of Trump and an ominous preview for the 2018 midterm elections from a Republican perspective. The dot connecting Gianforte's actions back to Trump isn't needed, nor can it be remotely proven in this story.

Reporters have been periodically assaulted by public figures in the country for a very long time. Just ask the guy who plays Trump on "Saturday Night Live" in the form of Alec Baldwin.

“He comes after me, starts shoving and punching me — one time, right in the chin,” said New York Daily News photographer Marcus Santos in 2012, who said that he was coming to the defense of another photographer. “And then he started shoving me, and pushing me. He lunged at me like raging bull.”
And who could forget how Jim Rome became Jim Rome after goading then-Rams quarterback Jim Everett into getting physical and knocking him off a studio set in 1993?

For more examples, simply google "celebrities attack reporter" and be sure to take a long lunch in the process.

And then there's the rhetoric coming from the media itself that only throws more kerosene on the fire.

Enter Phillip Mudd, a CNN intelligence analyst, who yesterday said on his network's morning program, “Trey GowdyHarold (Trey) Watson GowdyControversial ‘hack back’ bill gains supporters despite critics Top Oversight Dem pushes back on Uranium One probe Overnight Cybersecurity: Manafort, Gates to remain under house arrest | Mueller said to be closing in on Flynn | 'Hack back' bill gains steam | Election security gets attention from DHS MORE ought to have his ass kicked."

Is that kind of "analysis" on national television helping matters?

And then of course, there's the narrative that's being pushed by Media Matters and others that Fox News, despite having a reporter in Alicia Acuna confirm Jacobs's account in an online report and on the air on Fox News this morning, that implies the network is trying to spike the Gianforte assault story.

Video showing Acuna's account on the air Thursday morning proves otherwise.

Again, a classic case of overplaying one's hand in an effort to blame others for one man's actions.

In the end, did Trump somehow compel Gianforte to act as irrationally and impulsively as he did?

There's plenty to go with here as a story. Connecting Trump to Gianforte doesn't make it the truth no matter how much political media tries to make it so.

Joe Concha (@JoeConchaTV) is a media reporter for The Hill.


The views expressed by contributors are their own and are not the views of The Hill.