Media critic

It has been a week since news broke of a California man’s arrest for making disturbing threats against staffers of the Boston Globe, the newspaper that led a mid-August campaign among editorial boards to decry President Trump’s attacks on the media. “Hey, how’s your p— smell today, nice and fresh? We are going to shoot you motherf—— in the head, you Boston Globe c—suckers. Shoot every f—ing one of you,” the man, Robert Chain, is alleged to have said. There were several others as well, which included rhetorical cues straight from the mouth of the president such as the press being “the enemy of the American people.”

A president with a tinge of decency might have concluded that it’s time to cool the attacks on the media. Such a president this country does not have.

In a rally on Thursday night in Billings, Mont., Trump stumped for various GOP politicians from Big Sky country. In the process, he belched out these words [in the video above]: “I’m also thrilled to be joined by Montana’s terrific member of Congress, a true champion for Montana. And I’ll tell you what, this man has fought — in more ways than one — for your state. He has fought for your state. Greg Gianforte, he is a fighter and a winner. He’s a winner. Great/ He loves your state.”

Bolding added to highlight an obvious and baleful reference to one of the big media stories of 2017: Gianforte’s body-slam of Guardian reporter Ben Jacobs during a special congressional election campaign in Montana. As captured on audiotape on May 24, 2017, Jacobs politely asked then-candidate Gianforte about the Congressional Budget Office’s report on the Republican health-care bill, a topic that Gianforte cared not to discuss. “We’ll talk to you about that later,” he told Jacobs. The reporter persisted, and Gianforte resisted. Clearly irked, Gianforte proceeded to grab Jacobs, throw him to the ground and punch him. The politician later pleaded guilty to assault and was slapped with a six-month deferred sentence. No jail time.

In a statement, Jacobs said, “While I have no doubt that actions like these were an aberration for Congressman-elect Gianforte personally, I worry that, in the context of our political debate, they have become increasingly common. In recent years, our discourse has grown increasingly rancorous and increasingly vile. This needs to stop.”

Gianforte issued an apology admitting that the action was “unprofessional, unacceptable and unlawful.” It’s apparent that the president hasn’t reached the same judgment.