White House Correspondents' Association condemns Trump’s rhetoric toward journalists

Jon Testor

Detailing his early and enthusiastic support for Rep. Greg Gianforte (R-Mont.)-who pleaded guilty to assault after he body-slammed Jacobs the day before last May's special election and went on to win anyway-Trump said he initially anxious that the Republican's attack on a reporter would hurt his chances in the race.

"I shouldn't say this", he said, then adding "there's nothing to be embarrassed about".

Mr Gianforte pleaded guilty to assault after he body-slammed Guardian reporter Ben Jacobs for asking a question on healthcare legislation. Eyewitnesses from Fox News, who were there that day to interview the congressional candidate, later recalled that Gianforte grabbed Jacobs by the neck, slammed him into the ground and started punching the journalist.

Mr Trump said: "Any guy that can do a body slam - he's my kind of guy".

"All Americans should recoil from the president's praise for a violent assault on a reporter doing his Constitutionally protected job", Sirius XM reporter Olivier Knox, the White House Correspondents Association president, said in a statement Friday.

"Trump won't apologize, of course, nor will his devoted base hold his remarks against him".

"Let me just say on behalf of all of Montana, Mr. President, thank you for giving us hope again", said Gianforte at a rally in Missoula, Montana.

"We endorsed Greg very early".

He said the incident "runs the risk of inviting other assaults on journalists", coming at the same time as the alleged killing of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi. The Guardian has also reacted to the news, noting that the United States president had applauded "the assault of an American journalist".

At a rally Thursday night in Montana, Trump and his supporters reveled in Rep. "We should never shrug at the president cheerleading for a violent act targeting a free and independent news media".

"In Washington he talks like he's from Montana and he votes like he's Nancy Pelosi", stated President Trump. Gianforte faced up to six months in jail for assaulting the reporter after Jacobs asked him about a Republican health care bill.

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