Gianforte avoids jail time for assaulting reporter, now supports free press

Greg Gianforte cuts a promo for the Bozeman Daily Chronicle.

On Monday, Gallatin County Justice Court sentenced Greg Gianforte to 40 hours of community service for assaulting Guardian reporter Ben Jacobs. Judge Rick West also ordered the representative-elect to complete 20 hours of anger management classes. Gianforte has pled guilty, apologized to Jacobs, and pledged to donate $50,000 to Committee to Protect Journalists. In court, he described the assault as follows: “I grabbed his wrist. A scuffle ensued, and he was injured, as I understand it.”

That’s accurate, I guess, but it is phrased in a way that minimizes his responsibility. A “scuffle ensued” when Gianforte attacked Jacobs. “He was injured” by Gianforte. It is good that the representative-elect understands that, since he is the one who did it. This statement suggests that Gianforte has learned his lesson, and the lesson is that he can assault a reporter and suffer no meaningful consequences for his actions.

His party has learned a lesson, too. According to McClatchy, Republicans across the country are planning to make 2018 a “referendum on the media” by “embracing conflict with local and national journalists, taking them on to show Republicans voters that they, just like the president, are battling a biased press corps out to destroy them.” That’s exciting. I think it’s a stretch to say a biased press corps is out to destroy Republican voters, though. The problem with this strategy is that it assumes voters also view press coverage as an obstacle to their agenda, when the press is how voters learn what politicians are up to.

Here’s a timely example of how the press and voters are actually on the same side. In the hours after Gianforte assaulted Jacobs, his campaign released a statement claiming that the “liberal journalist” grabbed Gianforte and caused them both to fall. That wasn’t true. Gianforte threw Jacobs to the ground and punched him. The accurate version of events only came out because a Fox News crew was in the room at the time. Through his spokesman, Shane Scanlon, Gianforte lied to voters. He then refused to speak to reporters for the next 24 hours, throughout election day, evidently hoping his campaign’s false statement would hold up long enough for Montanans to vote.

Never forget that Rep. Gianforte’s endgame was to get elected based on false information. He lied to voters and stonewalled the press. There is no reason to believe he thinks we are all in this together against the fake news. He is the fake news. You can read all about in this week’s column for the Missoula Independent. We’ll be back tomorrow with Friday links!

Report from human foosball

The author plays human foosball, enthralling spectators.

Human foosball on Saturday afternoon at Missoula’s Kettlehouse—photo by Foxhole

Human foosball is much like regular foosball. Rows of players try to kick a ball into a goal. They can only move side-to-side. It is played at a bar while drinking, so as it progresses it becomes both more competitive and more terrifyingly arbitrary. The best way to score is not the carefully considered shot but the element of surprise. The main difference—other than that human foosball is played on human scale—is that tabletop foosball players cannot reach one another, to prevent breakage. Human foosball does not incorporate that design.

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Moral vs. structural problems of laser tag

The sport of kings

The sport of kings

Last night, a select few observed my birthday at The Hub Family Entertainment Center, where we played laser tag and drove go-karts. It was entertaining, and they let us in even without families. Even though I love it, I am terrible at laser tag and came in second to last, probably thanks to one of those five-year-olds who is operatively a stand for eyeglasses. But in my defense, one reason I got lit up so much was that a little girl followed me around the maze at a distance of about two feet, constantly pulling the trigger, not caring if I shot her and simply waiting until her gun reactivated to shoot me again. It turns out that’s a great strategy, in terms of maximizing points. But we didn’t come to laser tag to maximize points, to walk single-file and smile meekly at the person in front of us, even after he told us to go away, even after he tried to run off on his strong adult legs. So the big, important question:

  1. Is this little girl a dickbag, deserving of our censure? or
  2. Is this a structural problem of laser tag?

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New York Times, not Buzzfeed, on what you learn in your 40s

The Fed announced continued quantitative easing for the third quarter. You won't believe what happened next.

This Fed chair announced quantitative easing. You won’t believe what happened next.

Last year around this time, the internet briefly worried/hoped that the New York Times innovation report would lead the paper to become more like Buzzfeed. That didn’t happen—or did it? The Gray Lady has not become obsessed with viral stories or replaced page A1 with its Twitter feed, but it did run a Sunday op-ed titled What You Learn in Your 40s. It’s nice. Its premise is also remarkably similar to this Buzzfeed listicle, or this one, as well as this one and these. The difference is that the Times essay is built around a tone of humorous reflection rather than GIFs from Friends, and it’s about being 40 instead of 20.

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Dept. of Irony: GOP paints Clinton, Dems as old

Hillary Clinton, recently upgraded to "old" from "bitch"

Hillary Clinton, recently upgraded to “old” from “bitch”

“In some ways,” Rand Paul says in this article from the Times, “the older Democrats have become more staid and status-quo-like than some of us Republicans.” Thus begins the most tenuous political strategy in recent memory: Republicans’ plan to characterize Democrats as the party of the old. Former Romney strategist Stuart Stevens told reporters last month that electing a Democrat in 2016 would be like going back in time. And Mitch McConnell described the likely Democratic field as like an episode of The Golden Girls, presumably in that he masturbates to it.

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