Look I hate thuggish behavior and believe in a free press.
But Jake Tapper's comments on Greg Gianforte's slamming a reporter for the U.K. Guardian show just how puffed up members of the journalistic profession have become:
"Let us add that those public officials finding it difficult these days to muster the courage to strongly condemn a politician committing assault on a reporter, maybe you need to reexamine how much you truly love the Constitution beyond just saying the words," he said.
First off, everybody from the Republican National Committee to a news outlet that withdrew its endorsement of Gianforte (a Republican who nevertheless won a Montana's special election for a seat in Congress) has condemned–and rightly so–Gianforte's behavior.
It was appalling behavior that has blighted what should have been a good night for Gianforte and the GOP. We hope the reporter is okay and that the appropriate legal remedy will be reached. But I still don't like to be talked down to by Mr. Tapper.
Journalistic vanity aside, this is not a constitutional issue. The Constitution guarantees freedom of speech and a free press. But it's no worse to shove a journalist that to shove you or me.
Not everything journalists do is noble. Some pursue the truth with painstaking devotion to their craft, while others use reprehensible methods.
A friend of mine in a panel once referred to "the office" journalists hold and opined that it must be respected. Journalists do not hold an office and are entitled to no more respect than anybody else. We are no more required to respect shoddy work from journalists than we are to respect inferior work by our electrician.
If Gianforte's stupid and shocking actions were an an attempt to shut down the free press, it would be time to invoke the Constitution. As ugly and indefensible as Gianforte's action was, it was a personal act by an angry politician and not an attempt to abridge constitutional rights. It does not herald the advent of a police state.
I wish Ben Jacobs, the shoved Guardian reporter, well. But I wanted to say a few words about Mr. Tapper's incredible pomposity.