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Posted by on Jan 29, 2014 in Media, Politics | 7 comments

Rep. Michael Grimm threatens to throw reporter off balcony: UPDATED (Video)

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So much for being a “rising star.”

Everyone who has worked as a print or broadcast reporter knows it goes with the territory. You ask a question of someone in the news and he or she doesn’t like it. But seldom does someone threaten you physically and if it was a news source working for a company (an employee, a p.r. person) the person would be fired. Elected officials usually don’t threaten physical violence or get into reporters’ faces.

Representative Michael G. Grimm of Staten Island decided to lower the bar once again on how our political culture worked. He got in a reporter’ face, physically threatened him, gave a denial-non-denial to The Huffington Post — and now did the expected: he apologized. But a lowering of the bar it was and indicative of how angry our politics has become it is:

Representative Michael G. Grimm of Staten Island, once considered a rising star in the Republican Party, touched off a political firestorm after delivering unusually vitriolic threats against a reporter inside the United States Capitol building on Tuesday night, just moments after the State of the Union speech.

Mr. Grimm apologized to the reporter on Wednesday and also issued a statement expressing regret, but the damage to Mr. Grimm’s reputation appeared to already have been severe, as his threats became the subject of widespread denunciation and mockery.

I’d call him a “shooting star,” but I don’t want to give any 21st century politicians any ideas how how to lower the bar further in responding to reporters.

He threatened to throw the reporter off a balcony and break him in half. Here’s the video:

According to The New York Times, Grimm — who now epitomizes his last name the way former Rep. Anthony Weiner epitomizes his — was elected with Tea Party support and irked over ” a continuing federal investigation into his campaign fund-raising, including assertions by several contributors that Mr. Grimm or his chief fund-raiser told them that his campaign would find ways to get around the legal limit on donations.”

Usually politicians try to change the subject; Grimm did that, to be sure.

So when Michael Scotto of NY1 did what any good reporter would do — ask someone in the news about how they react to a major story — Grimm tried to cut it off, decided to just walk away (a bad approach when dealing with the media because it makes you look guilty as accused) and then went back and went ballistic.

Grimm’s initial response to The Huffington Post was a apology non-apology, one that suggests he either needed to hire a p.r. person fast and have his spokesperson be with him at all times. This is textbook on how NOT to respond:

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.

So Grimm’s response showed “a certain level of professionalism and respect” to the reporter?

NY1s Political Editor demanded an apology:

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.”

But now, a day later, as he most likely learns that his losing it went viral and that at this very moment that late night comedians are getting down on their knees and thanking the Lord for giving them such great material, he has issued a damage control, I’m-so-contrite apology:

“I apologized. I called (the reporter) Michael Scotto up. He was very gracious in accepting my apology. We’re going to have lunch sometime next week and make sure this is all behind us,” Grimm told reporters in Washington.

“This was an unfortunate incident that shouldn’t have happened. I’m sure my Italian mother is going to be yelling at me, saying ‘you weren’t raised that way’ and she’s right,” he added

Settled for Mr. Grimm? Unlikely. The video will be out there. And the media’s interest in allegations about him won’t be diminished by this, but heightened.

In fact, the New Yorker has this article with info that will be devastating for Grimm and suggests that in the future he’ll be him a person of interest to the media and perhaps investigators.

UPDATE: Rep. Peter King:

Grimm’s New York colleague Rep. Peter King laughed the incident off.

“I’ve fought with reporters myself; it’s a contact sport. If you can’t take it, get out,” King said smiling.

“It’s different in New York… I think it’s hurt him if he backs down,” King said.