How tempting for Republicans to treat House candidate Greg Gianforte’s assault on Guardian reporter Ben Jacobs as an isolated incident. This idea collapses under scrutiny. First, Gianforte’s own history of making putatively irreverent comments about wishing violence on members of the press. Second, the leader of his party, a lifelong man of wealth used to threatening insinuations and preemptory commands, detests the idea of scrutiny, press or otherwise. He can’t stand it. Consider:
1. During the campaign in November 2015, Trump mocked a New York Times reporter with a congenital joint condition.
2. At a Texas rally in February 2016, Trump promised supporters, “I’m going to open up our libel laws so when [journalists] write purposely negative and horrible and false articles, we can sue them and win lots of money.”
3. A day after Trump’s inauguration, press secretary Sean Spicer blasts media for getting reports about DC crowd size wrong.
4. Excluding major news organizations like CNN, the Los Angeles Times, and the New York Times from press briefings.
5. In anticipation of a February speech at CPAC, Trump or an amanuensis tweeted that “the FAKE news media” is “not my enemy, it is the enemy of the American People!”
6. Daniel Ralph Heyman of the Public News Service was arrested and charged with “willful disruption of government processes” last week after shouting questions on the Hill at Secretary of Health and Human Services Tom Price.
This is the culture created by the president.