Terrifying, exciting, energizing, tiring there is a whole bunch of different emotions you feel when you're standing next to national networks covering a story on your first job. On one side I have Fox News the next I have ABC and CNN. Surrounded by networks I hope to work at down the road. Nothing can prepare you for that moment and you either take it by the horns or you get left behind. I chose to seize the moment and learn as much as I could.
Now to explain how I was put in this position I'll give you the details of what happened.
On Wednesday May 24th :
Greg Gianforte, the Republican candidate in Thursday's special congressional election in Montana, allegedly "body slammed" a reporter for The Guardian last night at a meet-and-greet event. The reporter, Ben Jacobs, took to twitter to describe the incident and claimed the altercation broke his glasses. This development comes on the eve of a special election to replace congressman-turned Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke. Montana has only one U.S. representative.
Fox News was preparing for the "separate interview" and the Fox team saw the incident unfold. Fox News reporter Alicia Acuna wrote that she had been exchanging pleasantries just before their interview, when Jacobs walked into the room with his recorder, and "put it up to Gianforte's face and began asking him if he had a response to the newly released Congressional Budget Office report on the American Health Care Act. Gianforte told him he would get to him later. Jacobs persisted with his question. Gianforte told him to talk to his press guy, Shane Scanlon."
Acuna's account continued:
"At that point, Gianforte grabbed Jacobs by the neck with both hands and slammed him into the ground behind him. Faith, Keith (Acuna's producer and crew) and I watched in disbelief as Gianforte then began punching the man, as he moved on top the reporter and began yelling something to the effect of 'I'm sick and tired of this!'
"Jacobs scrambled to his knees and said something about his glasses being broken. He asked Faith, Keith and myself for our names. In shock, we did not answer. He then said he wanted the police called and went to leave. Gianforte looked at the three of us and repeatedly apologized. At that point, I told him and Scanlon, who was now present, that we needed a moment. The men then left."
After it hit Twitter we were put on a wild goose chase to figure out what exactly happened. Kolby went to the scene and I went to the hospital and social media. After seeing the Guardian reporter at the hospital there was a press release at the Law and Justice center's detention center. I had no idea it would blow up this big. Normally when there's a press conference it is only the local tv stations and the newspaper. Instead I was in a room full of journalist from one side to the next. Reporters from all over the world and national stations.I ended up working that day till midnight hoping to get ahold of the Guardian reporter.
May 25th Election Day:
We interviewed Alicia Acuna ourselves to hear her story then we waited for the second press conference.
The second press conference had even more journalists and the Gianforte "body slam" was the talk of everybody everywhere. Once we were set up at the Gianoforte campaign party we prepared for the end of the election as well as our live shots. All the press was lined up in the back of the room and everyone was stationary for their shots. I wanted to try to be different so Kolby and I went off the tripod and did a walk and talk through the campaign party. It was fun and a little more extra work but it was worth it. I even had some of the of the other stations say they wish they would have thought of that.
I was covering this election from early into the morning until 3 AM the next day. Greg Gianoforte won the congressional seat and I was one of the first reporters who learned the AP called the election at 10:40. It was pretty big day in my career as well as for Montana.
It was crazy being in the middle of it. I know the area and the people here since have been working for 10 months in Bozeman. I had these big stations asking for my opinion or help when it comes to the area. I was able to talk with these fellow reporters. These reporters were reporters I hope to be like some day. With the breaking news I didn't have time to be star struck it was more of just an admiration and push to set myself a part from all of these great journalist. I watched, learned and did the best reporting I could do. I'm proud of what I brought to the table and this experience is something I will hold with me for my journalism career because I truly did learn a lot from being apart of this media frenzy. Slowly but surly I'm working my way up there to the bigger markets. To just think I graduated only a year ago and so far I've grown so much.
Links to some of my Facebook Live videos from the event: