U.S. Press Freedom Tracker

Montana GOP official says she 'would have shot' Guardian reporter who was assaulted by Rep. Gianforte

Incident Details

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October 19, 2017

Montana Republican official Karen Marshall said in a radio program on Oct. 19, 2017 that should she “would have shot” Guardian reporter Ben Jacobs if he had addressed her as he did Rep. Greg Gianforte. Marshall resigned from her position four days later. 

On May 24, Republican Greg Gianforte physically assaulted reporter Ben Jacobs after he tried to interview the Congressional candidate. Gianforte body-slammed Jacobs to the ground, punched him, and broke his glasses.

Gianforte was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives the next day. He pled guilty to misdemeanor assault, has publicly apologized, and as part of a civil settlement, agreed to donate $50,000 to the Committee to Protect Journalists.

Marshall, who serves as the vice-president of programs for Gallatin County Republican Women, made her remarks during a Voices of Montana radio segment with attorney and Democratic Congressional candidate John Heenan.

In audio of the radio segment posted to John Heenan for Congress Facebook page, Marshall called herself a friend of Gianforte’s. “If that kid had done to me what he did to Greg, I would have shot him,” Marshall said about Jacobs.

A spokesman for Rep. Gianforte, Travis Hall, denounced Marshall’s comments. Heenan’s campaign released a statement on Oct. 20. “The fact members of [Gianforte’s] party are sort of doubling down and wishing worse harm on Ben Jacobs really bothers me,” Heenan said.

On Oct. 23, Karen Marshall resigned from her position, according to the Gallatin County Republican Women’s Facebook page.

The mission statement of the Gallatin County Republican Women’s website notes that it “stands by the principles of freedom, equality, and justice on which the government of this country is founded.” The Gallatin County Republican Women did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

The U.S. Press Freedom Tracker catalogues press freedom violations in the United States. Email tips to [email protected].