June 8, 2017

Greg Gianforte, the newly elected Republican congressman from Montana, has issued an apology to Guardian reporter Ben Jacobs for bodyslamming him on the eve of the election.

He’s opening his checkbook, too. The 200-word letter discloses that Gianforte is making a $50,000 donation to the Committee to Protect Journalists “in the hope that perhaps some good can come of these events.”

“I write to express my sincere apology for my conduct on the evening of May 24,” he wrote. “My physical response to your legitimate question was unprofessional, unacceptable and unlawful. As both a candidate for office and a public official, I should be held to a high standard in my interactions with the press and the public. My treatment of you did not meet that standard.”

His apology contradicted an earlier statement released by his campaign, which implied that Jacobs instigated the physical conflict with Gianforte.

“Notwithstanding anyone’s statements to the contrary, you did not initiate any physical contact with me, and I had no right to assault you. I am sorry for what I did and the unwanted notoriety this has created for you. I take full responsibility.”

Jacobs accepted Gianforte’s apology, according to a statement sent to Time reporter Zeke Miller.

“I have accepted Mr. Gianforte’s apology and his willingness to take responsibility for his actions and statements,” Jacobs wrote. “I hope the constructive resolution of this incident reinforces for all the importance of respecting the freedom of the press and the First Amendment and encourages more civil and thoughtful discourse in our country.”

Gianforte still faces criminal charges, according to The Guardian, and is scheduled to appear in court on or before June 20.

The Committee to Protect Journalists, which got a spike in donations after a Golden Globes shoutout from actress Meryl Street, is grateful for the apology, said Courtney Radsch, advocacy director for the Committee to Protect Journalists.

“CPJ has heard news reports about the congressman’s donation and we are heartened to see that he has issued an apology and recognizes that violence against journalists is unacceptable,” Radsch said. “Journalists play a critical role in keeping the public informed and we will use the donation, as we do with all of our funding, to ensure that journalists can report the news without the fear of reprisal.”

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Benjamin Mullin is the managing editor of Poynter.org. He previously reported for Poynter as a staff writer, Google Journalism Fellow and Naughton Fellow, covering journalism…
Benjamin Mullin

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