Michael Grimm, a Republican congressman from Staten Island in New York City, took exception to a local reporter’s questions about his campaign finances after the State of the Union speech Tuesday night — so he threatened to throw the reporter off a balcony and to “break” him “in half,” the political news site Talking Points Memo reports.
As Slate online magazine noted, Michael Grimm may need a media consultant to tell him that cameras don’t automatically shut off when an interview ends. His made his threats against Michael Scotto, a reporter for the NY1 cable news station, after he abruptly walked out of an interview with Scotto.
Grimm, 43, a former FBI agent and U.S. Marine veteran of the first Gulf War, returned to intimidate Scotto even though he later said that the reason he became angry was that he was “in a hurry.”
Here’s what happened, and you can see it in the above video clip: at the conclusion of a brief interview Scotto began to ask Michael Grimm about allegations that the GOP congressman had taken illegal campaign contributions.
Grimm abruptly declared that he would not answer “off topic” questions and terminated the interview, appearing to walk away. But apparently he stuck around as Scotto finished his segment.
Then, with cameras still running, Grimm barged back into the frame to promise that he would “break you in half. Like a boy.”
The transcript of the exchange was posted by NY1 on its web site. This is the conversation, verbatim:
“What?” Scotto responded. “I just wanted to ask you…”
Grimm: “Let me be clear to you, you ever do that to me again I’ll throw you off this f****** balcony.”
Scotto: “Why? I just wanted to ask you…”
Grimm: “If you ever do that to me again…”
Scotto: “Why? Why? It’s a valid question.”
Grimm: “No, no, you’re not man enough, you’re not man enough. I’ll break you in half. Like a boy.”
Michael Grimm later issued a statement in which he attempted to explain his anger, though he declined to apologize for his physical threats against the reporter.
“I was extremely annoyed because I was doing NY1 a favor by rushing to do their interview first in lieu of several other requests,” said Grimm. “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. ”
NY1 management for its part was less than impressed with Michael Grimm’s self-justification.
“It is extremely disturbing when anyone threatens one of our reporters – let alone a U.S. Congressman,” said station’s political director, Bob Hardt. “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.”
No further word from Michael Grimm, at least not yet.