Remember last year, when the big controversy following the State of the Union was Marco Rubio’s undeniable thirst for Poland Spring? It was a more dignified time. This year, the biggest news outside of the House chamber involved a member of Congress threatening to beat up a reporter – and the whole thing was caught on camera. During an interview in the Capitol Rotunda after Obama’s speech, NY1 reporter Michael Scotto dared to ask Representative Michael Grimm about allegations of campaign finance violations. The Staten Island Republican ended the interview and walked away, then returned to tell Scotto, “Let me be clear to you, you ever do that to me again I’ll throw you off this fucking balcony.”
When Scotto protested that his question was valid, Grimm added, “No, no, you’re not man enough, you’re not man enough. I’ll break you in half. Like a boy.”
After NY1 aired the footage, Grimm released a statement suggesting his behavior was justified because Scotto wasn’t acting with the “professionalism and respect” he expects from journalists.
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.
NY1 political director Bob Hardt noticed that there wasn’t an apology in there. “It is extremely disturbing when anyone threatens one of our reporters – let alone a U.S. Congressman,” he said. “The NY1 family is certainly alarmed and disappointed by the behavior of Representative Grimm and demands a full apology from him. This behavior is unacceptable.”