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'Body slam' victim worries Trump praise will encourage violence against journalists

Washington Examiner logo Washington Examiner 10/20/2018 Katelyn Caralle
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Ben Jacobs, the Guardian reporter who was assaulted by then-congressional candidate Greg Gianforte last year, said Friday that he is not surprised President Trump praised his attacker.

Jacobs, who spoke out for the first time publicly since he was "body slammed" last May by Gianforte, linked the way Trump talks about the media to violence against journalists.

“My concern is not about my situation as much as it is with Jamal Khashoggi and everything going on in the world,” Jacobs told CNN Friday night. “That the signal this sends about how the United States and how the President of the United States views journalists, when 44 journalists have been killed this year.”

During a rally Thursday, Trump praised Gianforte’s attack on a member of the press, saying “any guy that can do a body slam, he’s my kind of guy.”

The victim of the attack by Gianforte said he is not holding his breath for an apology from the president, even though he believes he deserves one.

Trump’s son Eric insisted that his father was joking around and having “fun” at the Montana rally when he made his comments about Gianforte.

“He wasn’t the guy that body-slammed anybody,” the middle Trump son told Fox News on Friday. “He can have fun. By the way, this is exactly why my father won.”

Republican Rep. Steve Scalise, La., who was shot last year at a congressional baseball practice, also defended the president’s comments, claiming "it's obvious" that Trump was not "encouraging his supporters to engage in attacks.”

Scalise also said it wasn’t fair for Democrats to go after Trump’s comments when they regularly use “threatening rhetoric to call on their supporters to harass Trump officials, supporters, and Republican members and candidates.”

Jacobs said he’s worried this type of talk and signalling from Trump could have contributed to widespread violence towards journalists around the world.

Other media members have also attempted to make a link between Trump’s verbal attacks on the media, and Khashoggi’s disappearance.

The Washington Post columnist and Saudi dissident entered the consulate in Istanbul on Oct. 2 to obtain paperwork to marry his Turkish fiancée; he has not been seen since.

There has been speculation that the disappearance, and assumed death and dismemberment, of a member of the media was carried out by Riyadh, although the Saudi King denies to have had any involvement.

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