Eric Trump defends father for praising assault of a reporter: 'He can have fun'

President TrumpDonald TrumpFive takeaways from the Ohio special primaries Missouri Rep. Billy Long enters Senate GOP primary Trump-backed Mike Carey wins GOP primary in Ohio special election MORE's son Eric TrumpEric TrumpTrump to Pence on Jan. 6: 'You don't have the courage' Florida city bans gambling amid prospects of Trump-owned casino Lara Trump on Senate bid: 'No for now, not no forever' MORE on Friday defended his father for praising Rep. Greg GianforteGregory Richard GianforteBipartisan governors press Biden administration on Canadian border restrictions Overnight Energy: Haaland, Native American leaders press for Indigenous land protections | Biden to return to pre-Obama water protections | Western governors ask Biden for aid on wildfires Western governors ask Biden for aid on wildfires MORE (R-Mont.) physically assaulting a journalist. 

"He wasn’t the guy who body-slammed anyone. He can have fun," Trump said on Fox News when asked about his father's comments at a rally on Thursday and the subsequent criticism it has engendered. 

“By the way, this is actually exactly why my father won. Because so many people are so sick and tired of the perfectly scripted politician who memorized their little soundbite and they went out there and they had no crowds and they weren’t any fun and they had no charisma, they had no personality," he said.

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Trump then added that his father is not politically correct and probably won because of that reason, before noting that he was joking about the incident. 

His comments come a day after President Trump lauded Gianforte for body-slamming Ben Jacobs, a reporter from The Guardian, last year, adding that it probably helped him win the 2017 special election. 

“Never wrestle him. Never. Any guy that can do a body slam, he’s my kind of ... he’s my guy,” Trump said in Missoula, Mont. 

The comment sparked widespread criticism from the press, with The Guardian releasing a statement condemning the president for "celebrating" the attack on one of its journalists. 

The White House Correspondents’ Association also issued a firm rebuke of the president, saying in a statement on Friday that Trump's words amounted to "the celebration of a crime by someone sworn to uphold our laws and an attack on the First Amendment by someone who has solemnly pledged to defend it."

"We should never shrug at the president cheerleading for a violent act targeting a free and independent news media,” the statement added.

Gianforte pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor assault charge in June 2017 for the incident involving him and a journalist. He was sentenced to a 180-day deferred sentence, 40 hours of community service, 20 hours of anger management and a $300 fine along with a $85 court fee.