Ben Jacobs (journalist)
Duke University School of Law
Ben Jacobs is an American political reporter. He formerly worked for The Guardian where he gained mass media attention for being assaulted by Republican congressional candidate Greg Gianforte in May 2017. He previously worked at The Daily Beast. His journalism has also been published in outlets including The Boston Globe, The New Republic, The Atlantic, Jewish Insider, New York Magazine, and the online news sites Salon and Capital New York. Jacobs has covered people such as Donald Trump and Chelsea Clinton, as well as doing podcasts on subjects such as the American Health Care Act, Brexit, and Devin Nunes.
While studying at Grinnell College, Jacobs was president of the Iowa College Democrats. After graduating in 2006, he worked in electoral politics. Jacobs later graduated from Duke University School of Law.
Jacobs was a freelance reporter for The New Republic, The Atlantic, Salon, and The Boston Globe before joining The Daily Beast and later The Guardian. In the second half of 2019, he wrote for Jewish Insider. He is based in Washington, D.C.
On May 24, 2017, while covering Montana's at-large congressional district special election, 2017, Jacobs was physically assaulted by Republican candidate Greg Gianforte, following which Gianforte was cited by local law enforcement for misdemeanor assault. Jacobs was body-slammed by the candidate and his glasses were broken. A report in The Atlantic suggested that Jacobs' response to the body-slam, instead of fighting back, was to "get up and call out the situation for what it was ... asking for names of witnesses to the assault who will be assets to his case as it plays out in courts of law and public opinion", and that this showed a "judicious, prescient reaction" and an act of "redefining strength." A statement by the Republican candidate blamed Jacobs for causing the incident:
Tonight, as Greg was giving a separate interview in a private office, The Guardian's Ben Jacobs entered the office without permission, aggressively shoved a recorder in Greg's face, and began asking badgering questions. Jacobs was asked to leave. After asking Jacobs to lower the recorder, Jacobs declined. 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. It's unfortunate that this aggressive behavior from a liberal journalist created this scene at our campaign volunteer BBQ.— statement by spokesman Shane Scanlon
CNN analyst Gregory Krieg said that the act of describing Jacobs as a "liberal journalist" was being used as an "implicit excuse for the candidate's violent behavior." Professor Kathleen Jamieson sees the attack as part of a broader problem, caused in part by Donald Trump painting journalists as "the enemy of the American people," and in effect, inciting people such as Gianforte to violence.
Gianforte won the special election on May 25. During Gianforte's acceptance speech that evening, he apologized to Jacobs and the Fox News crew for his assault. On June 7 Gianforte made a written apology to Jacobs and donated US$50,000 to the Committee to Protect Journalists, in return, Jacobs agreed to not pursue a civil claim against Gianforte.
On June 12, 2017, Gianforte pled guilty to the misdemeanor assault charge. He was sentenced to four days in jail, but the judge changed the sentence to 40 hours of community service, 20 hours of anger management and a $300 fine along with an $85 court fee.
- "Jewish reporter 'wailed on' by politician for asking healthcare question". The Jerusalem Post. Retrieved May 26, 2017.
- "Ben Jacobs". The Guardian. Retrieved May 25, 2017.
- "Unfreedom of the Press review: Mark Levin's Trumpist take on the first amendment".
- "Ben Jacobs". The Daily Beast. Retrieved May 25, 2017.
- "Ben Jacobs". Jewish Insider. Retrieved January 16, 2020.
- Lauren Holter (May 15, 2017). "Trump's Latest Comments Show He Is Blind To What Actually Helps Women". The Guardian. Retrieved May 25, 2017.
The Guardian's Ben Jacobs posted the full statement ... 'Ensuring affordable, accessible, and quality healthcare is critical to improving women's health and ensuring that it fits their priorities at any stage of life.'
- Aracell Cruz (April 25, 2017). "These Men Replied to Chelsea Clinton's Tweet in the WORST Way". Teen Vogue. Retrieved May 25, 2017.
... Ben Jacobs, a political reporter at The Guardian, wasn't satisfied with her response ...
- "Podcast: Ben Jacobs talks latest news..." The Federalist. March 29, 2017. Retrieved May 25, 2017.
- "Grassroots Road Trip". The Nation. February 21, 2008. Retrieved May 28, 2017.
- Daniel J. Solomon (May 25, 2017). "Meet Ben Jacobs, The Reporter Who Got Body-Slammed By Montana House Candidate". The Forward.
- Julia Carrie Wong; Sam Levin (May 25, 2017). "Republican candidate 'body-slams' Guardian reporter in Montana". The Guardian. Retrieved May 25, 2017.
- Seaborn Larson (May 24, 2017). "Montana GOP candidate cited after reporter alleged he was 'body slammed'". USA Today. Retrieved May 25, 2017.
... Fox News, which had a reporter at the scene of the altercation, reported Wednesday night that Gianforte 'grabbed Jacobs by the neck with both hands and slammed him into the ground behind him.'
- Jonathan Martin (May 24, 2017). "Montana Republican Greg Gianforte, Charged With Assault, Awaits Fate in Vote". The New York Times.
- James Hamblin (May 24, 2017). "How a Man Takes a Body Slam: In an assault in Montana, two very different ideas of masculinity". The Atlantic. Retrieved May 25, 2017.
... The visceral instinct to physically attack a person who has just attacked you is strong; ... That circuitry is increasingly vestigial, but overriding it and playing the longer game requires an active decision.
- Gregory Krieg (May 26, 2017). "Greg Gianforte's defense is as important as his violent actions". CNN. Retrieved May 26, 2017.
- Karen Tumulty; Robert Costa (May 26, 2017). "The GOP inherits what Trump has wrought". The Washington Post. Retrieved May 27, 2017.
- "'Alt-right' celebrates alleged body slam of Jewish reporter Ben Jacobs by GOP congressional candidate". Jewish Telegraphic Agency. Retrieved May 26, 2017.
- "Gianforte: 'I made a mistake, I'm sorry'". CNN. Retrieved May 26, 2017.
- Julia Carrie Wong (June 8, 2017). "Gianforte pays $50,000 to press group to settle assault of Guardian reporter". The Guardian. Retrieved June 8, 2017.
- Kyung Lah; Noa Yadidi; Carma Hassan. "Gianforte pleads guilty to assault in incident with reporter". CNN. Retrieved June 12, 2017.
- Natalie Andrews (June 12, 2017). "Incoming GOP Congressman Greg Gianforte Pleads Guilty to Assault on Reporter". The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved June 12, 2017.