An article on Laura Ingraham's website LifeZette is claiming that the Fox News reporter who witnessed Montana Republican House candidate Greg Gianforte allegedly body-slam a Guardian reporter changed her story. This claim is utter malarkey — and that's putting it mildly.
The headline of the article, written by Edmund Kozak, reads: "Montana Assault Witness Changes Story, Says No Neck Grab." Below it is a subheadline that reads: "Reporter says firsthand account misstated key aspect of Gianforte incident."
After reading that, you would think that the witness said a neck grab didn't take place. But Kozak actually proves the opposite in his article.
The article begins with a recap of what took place and then notes, "There is, so far, no direct video of the incident; only audio has been produced publicly. Among the small handful of eyewitnesses was Fox News reporter Alicia Acuna."
A snippet from Acuna's report of the incident is presented as well as a clip of Acuna describing the incident on Fox News.
"Gianforte grabbed him by the neck — both hands — slid him to the side, body-slammed him and then got on top of him and started punching and then yelling at him," Acuna said.
Kozak then proceeds to highlight the following exchange between Ingraham and Acuna on Ingraham's radio program:
"One of you guys said last night that he put his hands around his neck," Ingraham said. "Which, as somebody who's done a lot of taekwondo and self-defense, to me that seemed, that might not be exactly right."
"You know, and I'm the one who said that," Acuna replied, "I saw both his hands go up, not around his neck in a strangling type of way, but more just on each side of his neck, just grabbed him and I guess it could've been on his clothes, I don't know."
Ingraham asked Acuna if that meant she was changing her story.
"Again, just to clarify, he didn't grab him by the neck with both hands in the way that was initially described, that's not quite accurate," Ingraham asked at the end of the interview.
"No, so it wasn't like he grabbed him around the neck, he had one hand on each side of his neck," Acuna confirmed.
Basically, Acuna was simply clarifying that Gianforte grabbed the sides of Jacobs' neck rather than putting his hands around Jacobs' neck. But Acuna's clarification still makes it clear that Gianforte grabbed Jacobs' neck.
However, the implication of the article's headline is that Acuna recanted the notion that Gianforte grabbed Jacobs' neck altogether, with the intention of casting doubt on Acuna's credibility as a witness. And the dishonesty is working among some on the Right:
But all Acuna did was clarify as to the exact placement of Gianforte's hands on Jacobs' neck:
At the very least, LifeZette's dishonest headline and subheadline warrant a correction. But it's already too late: people who don't want to believe that a Republican congressional candidate may have assaulted a reporter are already championing the piece to satisfy their tribalistic tendencies.