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No, The Montana "Body Slam" Witness Did Not Change Her Story

An article with a misleading headline is making the rounds.

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A day after Greg Gianforte, the Republican front-runner in the Montana special election, was charged with assaulting a reporter, conservative website LifeZette published a misleading headline about the incident.

Screenshot

The story claims Fox News reporter Alicia Acuna retracted her account of the alleged assault of Guardian reporter Ben Jacobs, but that's not true.

The article tells a different story from the headline. The "change" the headline refers to is Acuna being unsure of where Gianforte's hands were positioned while allegedly attacking Jacobs.

Screenshots, LifeZette

The LifeZette site is run by Laura Ingraham, a popular conservative commentator. It often publishes misleading information.

The post was immediately denounced by some reporters on Twitter.

More wisdom from Laura Ingram, who says she spotted the "inaccuracy" because she "done a lot of taekwondo"… https://t.co/mw9CbfRndQ

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This is garbage from @IngrahamAngle's website. Look at the headline vs. actual comments, and subhead.

However, as soon as the article was published, Glanforte's supporters seized the opportunity to discredit the assault story.

Bombshell: Montana Fox News Reporter Changes Her Story, Admits No Neck Grab https://t.co/MYB61SrgEA

Gianforte did NOT grab Ben Jacobs by the neck. The witnesses (that work for @FoxNews) lied about it. #FakeNews https://t.co/IxJnyammih

#Lyingmedia @foxnews It seems a reporter needs to be fired: Alicia Acuna. And probably lied to Police. https://t.co/KYYE6qLTkG

One of the people who shared the story was Montana's Elections Director, Derek Oestreicher, who posted it on his private Facebook page. He said he deleted the post after BuzzFeed News contacted him to ask about the share and told him it was inaccurate.

Derek is the Director of Elections at the Montana Secretary of State's office. What a world. #mtpol #mtal… https://t.co/flQcM8jQ1U

The Guardian reporter was trying to ask Gianforte about the health care bill before the alleged attack. Voters are headed to the polls today.

Jane Lytvynenko is a reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in Toronto, Canada. PGP fingerprint: A088 89E6 2500 AD3C 8081 BAFB 23BA 21F3 81E0 101C.

Contact Jane Lytvynenko at jane.lytvynenko@buzzfeed.com.

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