Rep. Michael Grimm Non-Apologizes for Threatening to Throw NY1 Reporter "Off This Fucking Balcony" [UPDATED]
Oh thank God, something interesting happened during the State of the Union. We'd thought the highlight of the evening might be watching House Speaker John Boehner stubbornly refusing to crack a smile, glowering over the president's shoulder, while next to him, Joe Biden beamed maniacally and methodically seduced the ladies of the audience with his focused pointing.
Screenshot via NY1
But no: The real fun came afterward, when New York 1 Capitol reporter Michael Scotto tried to grab a minute with Congressman Michael Grimm, dignified representative of Staten Island and Brooklyn under investigation by both the feds and the House Ethics Committee for alleged campaign finance violations. Scotto wanted to talk about those allegations; Grimm had other, more athletic ideas.
The clip above picks up when Scotto tries to ask Grimm a question about the campaign finance unpleasantness. Grimm replies, "I don't want to talk about anything that's off-topic, this is only about the president." He walks away, and Scotto turns back to the camera and says, "So, Congressman Michael Grimm does not want to talk about some of the allegations concerning his campaign finances. We wanted to get him on camera on that, but he, as you saw, refused to talk about that. Back to you."
Grimm pops back in the frame, and, for lack of a better term, gets right up in Scotto's face. Only the reporter is audible for what happens next, which consists of him saying, in a shocked tone, things like, "Why? Why? ... It's a valid question."
Grimm's half of the conversation was reportedly more interesting; according to NY1, Grimm said first, "Let me be clear to you, you ever do that to me again I'll throw you off this fucking balcony." After a couple seconds of discussion, he added, pleasantly, "No, no, you're not man enough, you're not man enough. I'll break you in half. Like a boy."
The congressman hasn't disputed NY1's version of events. He released a statement which reads, in full:
I was extremely annoyed because I was doing NY1 a favor by rushing to do their interview first in lieu of several other requests. The reporter knew that I was in a hurry and was only there to comment on the State of the Union, but insisted on taking a disrespectful and cheap shot at the end of the interview, because I did not have time to speak off-topic. I verbally took the reporter to task and told him off, because I expect a certain level of professionalism and respect, especially when I go out of my way to do that reporter a favor. I doubt that I am the first Member of Congress to tell off a reporter, and I am sure I won't be the last.
Scotto didn't publicly comment on the incident, although NY1 political director Bob Hardt released a statement of his own, calling "the NY1 family" both "alarmed and disappointed" by Grimm's behavior, which, we will tell you, is reporter-speak for "thrilled."
Update, 8:45 a.m.: Scotto hit MSNBC's Morning Joe today to comment on the incident.
"I'm doing fine," he said, from the correct side of the balcony, adding, "I'm used to people giving me pushback for questions, but I was not used to something like that."
Scotto added that Grimm didn't touch him, but that he did seem "angrier than I have ever seen a politician talk to a reporter about a question he didn't like." In response to a wildly silly question from the MSNBC brain trust, he said that he won't be taking legal action against the Congressman.
Update, 10:20 a.m.: Mayor Bill de Blasio, on the other hand, is extremely upset and outraged and stuff. According to Capital New York, during a press conference this morning on his universal pre-K plan, he called Grimm's comments "absolutely inappropriate," adding, "Physically threaten someone? That's something no public servant should do. I think he owes Mr. Scotto an apology." When asked if Grimm should be censured by the House, he replied, "absolutely."
Man. Now the New York Post is going to have to edit this piece to make it pro-threatening reporters. That's going to be difficult.