The day after a Montana congressional candidate was charged with assaulting a reporter at his campaign headquarters, the Northeast Tarrant Tea Party tweeted Thursday, “BODY SLAM EVERY JOURNALIST #Gianforte.”
The @NETarrantTea Twitter account soon deleted the tweet.
“We have several people who tweet for us,” Julie McCarty, president of the politically powerful NE Tarrant Tea Party, wrote in an email to the Star-Telegram. “I guess they thought this was funny, but it was in very poor taste so we removed it immediately.”
She declined to name the person behind the tweet but said “that person will not be tweeting for us anymore.”
The tweet was a reference to the Wednesday incident between Montana Republican congressional candidate Greg Gianforte and reporter Ben Jacobs of The Guaradian. Gianforte was accused of slamming Jacobs to the ground during an interview.
Gianforte was cited for misdemeanor assault and could face six months in county jail, a fine of up to $500 or both, if convicted.
Jacobs said Gianforte “body slammed me and broke my glasses” in a tweet he sent shortly after 7 p.m. Wednesday. An eyewitness, Fox News reporter Alicia Acuna, who was in the room, corroborated Jacobs’ account and disputed the account given in a statement by Gianforte’s campaign.
She said in a first-person story posted on FoxNews.com that Gianforte “grabbed Jacobs by the neck with both hands and slammed him into the ground behind him.” Gianforte then “began punching the man, as he moved on top of the reporter,” Acuna said.
Public reaction to the incident has varied, said Cal Jillson, a political science professor at Southern Methodist University.
Of the Northeast Tarrant Tea Party tweet, Jillson said:
“I think there is a distinction between deep stupidity that would have left [the tweet] up proudly and the mere ignorance that allowed them to have second thoughts and take it down. It’s fascinating to see people respond to events like this.
“We will see what the day brings as far as the race goes.”