Did Rep. Grimm Really Threaten to Throw a Reporter Off a Balcony?

220px-Mike_Grimm

Yes, it appears US Representative Michael Grimm did threaten violence to a NY1 reporter in the Capitol Rotunda.

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It’s something you’d expect to hear on a terrible Reality TV show… not from a US Congressman after the State of the Union Address: “…You ever do that to me again I’ll throw you off this f—–g balcony.”

But nonetheless, if the transcript from the NY1 video is correct, it seems to be true.

Rep. Michael Grimm represents the 11th District of New York in the House of Representatives. The Republican is a former FBI agent and a Marine who served in the Gulf War. He is in the middle of a storm of questions about a 2010 campaign fundraising scandal.

According to Wikipedia, he serves on  the Subcommittee on Capital Markets and Government-Sponsored Enterprises and the Subcommittee on Financial Institutions and Consumer Credit.

Following the President’s State of the Union Address, NY1 reporter Michael Scotto interviewed Rep. Grimm about the SOTU, and then asked to follow up those questions with another. Grimm shot him down, saying he only wanted to talk about the SOTU. This isn’t an uncommon practice by politicians, and at first it seems Grimm is simply being firm by ending the interview respectfully and walking away. Scotto signs off on his report, and when Rep. Grimm assumes the camera is no longer rolling, he steps back into frame and pushes into Scotto.

The video can be seen at origin.ny1.com, and the transcript below is excerpted from the full transcript on their site, which can be viewed there:

Grimm: “Let me be clear to you, you ever do that to me again I’ll throw you off this f—–g balcony.”

Scotto: “Why? I just wanted to ask you…”

[[cross talk]]

Grimm: “If you ever do that to me again…”

Scotto: “Why? Why? It’s a valid question.”

[[cross talk]]

Grimm: “No, no, you’re not man enough, you’re not man enough. I’ll break you in half. Like a boy.”

Grimm released a statement following the incident.

“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,” reads the statement.

What stands out about Grimm’s threats, other than the complete and utter absence of an apology, is how insulting someone’s masculinity is often used by bullies to threaten and harm other men. This moment is a wake-up call for men and those who love them that it is time now, more than ever, to stop framing masculinity in terms of who is most willing (or able) to intimidate and threaten others. We know that masculinity is about what each man sees as defining his own value as a man, and it’s hard to see threatening to throw a reporter off a balcony in the Capitol Rotunda as anything other than outright violence and bullying.

If you ask me, no matter how rude Grimm considered Scotto’s question to be, there is one man in that camera frame who certainly is not acting like a man, and that’s Rep. Grimm. After all, telling another grown man that he isn’t “man enough” to ask him a tough question sounds more like a petulant child having a tantrum than a United States Representative handling an uncomfortable situation like a grown adult.

 

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About Joanna Schroeder

Joanna Schroeder is the type of working mom who opens her car door and junk spills out all over the ground. She serves as Executive Editor of The Good Men Project and is a freelance writer whose work has appeared on sites like Redbook, Yahoo!, xoJane, MariaShriver.com, hlntv.com, and more. Joanna loves playing with her sons, skateboarding with her husband, and hanging out with friends. She just finished her first novel. Follow her shenanigans on Twitter.

Comments

  1. Larry Portzline says:

    If a reporter threatened to throw a Congressman off a balcony in the U.S. Capitol, the reporter would be in jail. No question. Plus he would lose his job. So why is Rep. Michael Grimm not in jail for threatening to throw a reporter off a balcony in the U.S. Capitol? And will his constituents do whatever is necessary to fire him?

  2. Mostly_123 says:

    To be fair, I don’t know the precise context of question that preceded the outburst -just an outline of the generalities around it- but from what I know I would say it seemed like legitimate question to a sitting House Representative. BUT regardless, it’s very difficult to imagine anything that could justify that kind of reaction in that situation- journalists ask questions; all kinds of questions, hard questions- that’s the job. Someone in Grimm’s line of work should know that, should expect that, and should welcome his own opportunity there to control his own message, even if it is a subject he wasn’t initially planning to talk about. The last thing Grimm should be is taken aback, let alone outraged & overtly belligerent. 

    Two things about this are telling, and both do not bode well.
    The first is that for quite a long time now (it’s difficult to say where the genesis was- maybe back in Watergate or Iran-Contra) the American right seems to have regarded journalists & the media as the enemy: Not only ‘just’ biased against them by default, but are even actively & religiously devoted to nothing more than thwarting & harming them at every turn. This is not a healthy relationship with the fourth estate, or a tenable attitude to maintain in the long run, especially in an information-based democracy. Generally speaking, such paranoia of the (‘Liberal-liberal-liberal’ ‘Lame-stream’) media is not going to make for better, well-informed, dispassionate, impartial, and analytical representatives. On the contrary, it’s going to make for inflexible ideologues, extremists & one-way views, immune from all introspection; because they don’t trust any of the tools or outlets for achieving impartiality & introspection. 

    Whether that’s the case or not here, Grimm seems to be responding like person who’s been under siege by ‘the enemy’ for years, and his frustration & disdain is at its breaking point. It’s not the utter contempt of one individual that’s so troubling; it’s the broader attitudes and implications that may be underlying it: A mindset of ‘if-you’re-not-with-us-you’re-out-to-destroy-us-and-I-already-know-you-are.’

    The second thing is Grimm’s headlong rush to play his idea of what the ‘man-card’ is – It’s incredibly weak that that is the very first place he should go. By presuming & appealing to his own idea of another man’s gender-based vanity, and trying to do harm by striking for that particular ego spot; it’s not just being recklessly angry- it’s being recklessly angry, and ignorantly regressive. Grimm is projecting his idea (his regressive idea, in my mind) that, regardless of the situation or circumstances, what makes a man is a man’s physicality, and a gender-based ability/responsibility to inflict or deflect physical aggression. Gender is not the axis of power. A real man, a real woman, a real journalist, does the job they’re supposed to damn well do, and asks the tough questions- not just the ones that earn cookies; and not trading blows when it doesn’t go your way, either. This is an interview, that is a journalist. Answer the question Congressman- answer the question. Or don’t- after all, the end, you don’t have to answer any questions you don’t want to. To quote Lyman Beecher, “Never chase a lie. Let it alone, and it will run itself to death.” But don’t think for a minute you that you get a pass on the hard stuff from reporters by bringing intimidation or disparaging epithets onto the table- be it along the lines race, class, gender, ideology, or just good old overt threats of violence. Answer the question Congressman.

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