Not Cool

01.28.14

Congressman Michael Grimm Physically Threatens Reporter

New York Republican Michael Grimm physically threatened a reporter Tuesday night.

After the State of the Union Tuesday night, Congressman Michael Grimm threatened Michael Scotto, a reporter with local television news station NY1, with being thrown off a balcony, saying, "You're not a man. I could break you in half."

Scotto was finishing an interview with Staten Island Republican Michael Grimm about the State of the Union when he decided to ask one more question. He didn't get to finish. Grimm immediately cut him off saying, "I'm not speaking about anything that is off-topic. This is only about the President's speech." The reporter then spoke to the camera saying that he hoped to ask Grimm about the ongoing campaign finance investigation around his 2010 campaign. Grimm has been linked to an allegedly corrupt Israeli rabbi and his ex-girlfriend has been indicted on charges of being a straw donor, among other controversies. Prior to this incident, the New York City Republican was considered one of the most vulnerable incumbents in his party in 2014.

Shortly thereafter, Grimm, a former FBI agent first elected to Congress in 2010, went back and got into the reporter's face. The two had a heated back-and-forth that was barely audible while the camera was still running. In a full transcript posted by NY1, Grimm said, "Let me be clear to you, you ever do that to me again I'll throw you off this f-----g balcony." Scotto interjected, saying that he had "a valid question." The New York Republican then responded by saying, "No, no, you're not man enough, you're not man enough. I'll break you in half. Like a boy."

In a statement afterwards, Grimm didn't apologize. Instead, he struck a defiant tone. The statement 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."

NY1's political director, Bob Hardt, demanded that Grimm apologize in his own statement. "It is extremely disturbing when anyone threatens one of our reporters – let alone a U.S. Congressman" said 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."