The year is 2017 and the definition of "politics as usual" has changed dramatically. Case in point: Republican congressional candidate Greg Gianforte was charged with misdemeanor assault on Wednesday after he allegedly grabbed a Guardian reporter by the neck and threw him to the ground.
In case you needed further proof that we truly can't have a nice republic anymore, people took to Twitter to praise Gianforte for the body-slam. The reporter, Ben Jacobs, tweeted that his glasses were broken during the incident, prompting other users (including former presidential candidate Evan McMullin) to suggest that a free replacement was in order. After being tagged in the tweet, high-end designer Warby Parker offered Jacobs a new pair of glasses.
On the surface, this is a generous gesture and nothing more — but in today's highly politicized environment, it's fair to question the brand's motives. Warby Parker didn't privately reach out to Jacobs to offer him a new pair of spectacles. Instead, the exchange played out on social media as thousands of Twitter users watched. The brand received high praise from many followers who pledged their patronage to Warby Parker for "standing behind the free press."
To be fair, Warby Parker didn't insert itself in the broken glasses hullabaloo. The brand was tagged in tweets by both McMullin and reporter Samantha Reyes, both of whom have thousands of followers. If Warby Parker had failed to engage in the conversation, it could have sent the message that the brand is unconcerned by (literal) attacks on freedom of the press.
If Warby Parker gains some customers due to this incident, it probably won't be a surprise. The company has a strong track record of supporting progressive causes such as transgender rights. Furthermore, it donates a pair of glasses for every one that's purchased. It's undeniable that Warby Parker will benefit from the press surrounding their gesture, but at least it's consistent with values the company has upheld in the past.
Still, there's something unsettling about a brand benefiting from an assault.