BOSTON (CBS) – The new congressman-elect from Montana, Greg Gianforte, will not be going to jail after pleading guilty to assaulting a reporter on the eve of Election Day after he was asked a question he didn’t like.
Instead, he will do community service, submit to anger management counseling, and pay a fine.
Gianforte also issued a gracious apology to the reporter in question, confessed fully to his guilt in the matter even though his campaign had initially denied it, paid several thousand dollars in restitution to his victim, and made a $50,000 donation to the Committee to Protect Journalists.
In other words, he put on a clinic of contrition and remorse, and in turn the reporter agreed not to sue and to go along with a no contest plea.
And while it’s nice to see truth, sanity and decency prevail, let’s not forget the appalling sight of right-wing propagandists – some of the biggest names in the business – who either disputed the facts of what Gianforte did despite eyewitness confirmation, cheered the notion of a physical assault on a reporter, or both.
I won’t name any names because publicity is their mother’s milk, but you can look them up online.
The Gianforte story brought into focus how toxic, sophomoric, and vulgar our political culture has become. I have no doubt some of the duller-witted corners of the left-wing would have reacted the same way.
But we can all learn something from what Gianforte said in his apology to the reporter about why he had no right to hit him: “You were doing your job.”
It’s our job to demand that kind of respect and humility from each other, and ourselves.