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eyewitness account

Fox News team says it witnessed GOP congressional candidate Greg Gianforte 'body slam' reporter

A trio of Fox News employees is backing up journalist Ben Jacobs' account of what happened Wednesday evening between him and Greg Gianforte, the Republican candidate for Montana's vacant U.S. House seat.

The Guardian's Jacobs tweeted that during a campaign event in Bozeman, Gianforte "body slammed me and broke my glasses," and later, audio was released of the incident in which Gianforte can be heard yelling, "I'm sick and tired of you guys!" Fox News reporter Alicia Acuna was in the room when the altercation took place, along with field producer Faith Mangan and photographer Keith Railey. In a firsthand account posted to the Fox News website, Acuna wrote that Jacobs, whose name she didn't know at the time, walked into the room with a voice recorder and "put it up to Gianforte's face and began asking him if he had a response to the newly released Congressional Budget Office report on the American Health Care Act. Gianforte told him he would get to him later. Jacobs persisted with his question. Gianforte told him to talk to his press guy, Shane Scanlon."

Then, Gianforte "grabbed Jacobs by the neck with both hands and slammed him into the ground behind him," Acuna wrote. She said the Fox News crew "watched in disbelief" as Gianforte then "began punching the man, as he moved on top of the reporter and began yelling something to the effect of 'I'm sick and tired of this!'" Jacobs got up and asked Acuna, Mangan, and Railey for their names, Acuna said, but "in shock, we did not answer." After Jacobs left the room, "Gianforte looked at the three of us and repeatedly apologized," Acuna said. "To be clear, at no point did any of us who witnessed this assault see Jacobs show any form of physical aggression toward Gianforte, who left the area after giving statements to local sheriff's deputies."

In a statement, Scanlon referred to Jacobs as a "liberal journalist," and claimed that Gianforte asked Jacobs to lower his recorder and when Jacobs didn't, "Greg then attempted to grab the phone that was pushed in his face. Jacobs grabbed Greg's wrist, and spun away from Greg, pushing them both to the ground."