Guardian reporter Ben Jacobs

Guardian reporter Ben Jacobs reads from a statement in the Gallatin County courthouse on June 12, 2017.

Thom Bridge, Independent Record

The Guardian reporter physically assaulted by Greg Gianforte the day before the Montana Republican was elected to the U.S. House has called out Gianforte for repeatedly delaying a promised interview, calling it "a display of his true character."

When Ben Jacobs testified in the June case in Gallatin County, he expressed interest in interviewing Gianforte once he was sworn in. Later in the proceeding, Gianforte said, "I look forward to sitting down with you." 

Gianforte pleaded guilty to the misdemeanor and was sentenced to 40 hours of community service as well as anger management classes. In a related settlement agreement, the congressman agreed to donate $50,000 to the Committee to Protect Journalists and to write an apology letter. Jacobs pledged not to sue him in civil court. 

Gianforte took office June 21.

Fast forward to this month: Jacobs did interviews with two national media outlets and took to Twitter to blast Gianforte for avoiding a meeting. 

"In refusing to do the promised on-the-record interview with me, Congressman Gianforte continues his pattern of avoiding responsibility for his actions and refusing to live up to the statements made in what I had thought was a sincere apology," Jacobs wrote in an email to Gianforte Communication Director Travis Hall that he later posted to Twitter. "He has refused to explain why he slandered me, he unsuccessfully tried to avoid pleading guilty to a physical attack against me and he also unsuccessfully fought a legal battle to avoid the mild inconvenience of having a mugshot taken."

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A story by The Washington Post last week and another by CNN on Tuesday suggests the delay stems from a disagreement about what kind of meeting Gianforte promised. Jacobs has asked for an on-the-record interview while Gianforte's team has offered an off-the-record meet up with Montana beer of Jacobs' choice. 

“We’ve been in discussions for several weeks with Ben to make this meeting happen with Greg. We’ve offered times to Ben to sit down with Greg when the House reconvenes after the district work period," Hall told The Washington Post's Erik Wemple Blog. He told CNN on Tuesday the offers still stand. 

CNN wrote that "from Jacobs' perspective, an on-the-record interview is what would inform his readers, not an off-the-record drinking session."


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