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RTDNA Concerned About Reporters' Safety After Gianforte Sentence

The Radio-Television Digital News Association is concerned about journalists' safety after what the organization saw as relatively light punishment for newly-elected Republican Congressman Greg Gainforte of Montana.

Gianforte pled guilty to assaulting a reporter in the waning hours of his special election last month, audio of which went viral, leading to Gianforte's apology and promise to donate $50,000 to a journalist rights organization.

Gianforte was sentenced to six months deferred jail time, plus community service, and ordered to pay $358 in fees and attend anger management classes, but according to the Bozeman Daily Chronicle, his conviction could be expunged from the record if he does not violate the terms of his plea.

“It is concerning, to say the least, that a public figure, or anyone, in Montana, or anywhere else, can physically assault a reporter for merely asking questions on behalf of the public and then receive a light sentence,” said RTDNA's incoming executive director Dan Shelley, who heads the task force.

Related: RTDNA, Other Press Groups Accuse Trump of Undermining Democracy

The RTDNA is also concerned about reports that some Republican strategists are suggesting confronting the media as a way to get more votes.

"In today’s highly charged political and ideological atmosphere, I genuinely worry about the safety of reporters in our country,” Shelley said on RTDNA's website.