Imagine yourself in a military boat, hands on a mounted machine gun at the bow, surrounded by members of U.S. Special Operations forces.
You cruise around the bay, rat-a-tat-tatting .50-caliber “blank” bullets, and just for fun, you decide to turn the gun toward a bunch of journalists watching your exhibition of lethal power.
The journalists dive for cover and “cry like little girls.”
Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn, a Democrat, has been getting laughs with that story. It’s mostly fiction because, according to the Tampa Bay Times, while he did get to play soldier with the machine gun, he didn’t point it at anyone in particular and nobody actually ducked for cover.
Still, he uses this punchline: It was “great payback (for journalists). I love it.”
Last week, a tech millionaire in Montana running for the U.S. House of Representatives decided he didn’t like a question a Guardian reporter asked him about health care, so he grabbed the reporter and slammed him to the ground, then punched him a few times, yelling “Get the hell out of here!”
Republican Greg Gianforte then released a statement saying the “liberal” journalist caused the altercation by holding a recorder near the candidate’s face and asking “badgering” questions.
Even though three major state newspapers hastily pulled their endorsements of Gianforte after the assault, some fellow Republicans and constituents showed ambivalence or even support for his aggressive actions, including one person heckling CNN reporter Kyung Lah with the taunt that she was lucky “someone doesn’t pop one of you.”
California Republican Congressman Duncan Hunter tossed in this knee-slapper: “It’s not appropriate behavior. Unless the reporter deserved it.”
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, also a Republican, then decided to…