A US Congressman who threatened to “break” and throw a journalist off a balcony after President Barack Obama’s State of the Union address on Tuesday, has defended his actions.
New York Representative Michael Grimm said he was “ extremely annoyed” when the reporter from the US TV network NY1 asked him about on-going federal investigations into his campaign funds during an interview in the Capitol rotunda, in Washington D.C.
On Tuesday night, Mr Grimm stopped the interview with Michael Scotto and said: “You ever do that to me again I'll throw you off this f***ing balcony.”
After Mr Scotto said he had posed a valid question, Mr Grimm replied: “No, no, you're not man enough, you're not man enough. I'll break you in half. Like a boy.”
Mr Grimm justified his actions in a statement following the address, and said: “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”.
“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,” he said.
“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 favour.”
However, the political director of the network, Bob Hardt, called Mr Grimm’s behaviour “unacceptable”.
"It is extremely disturbing when anyone threatens one of our reporters – let alone a U.S. Congressman. The NY1 family is certainly alarmed and disappointed by the behavior of Representative Grimm and demands a full apology from him,” Mr Hardt said in a statement.
Mr Scotto’s questions come after Mr Grimm’s former girlfriend, Diana Durand, was charged in January with using straw donors to exceed the maximum allowable contribution to Grimm’s campaign committee.
After contributing $4,800, the maximum amount allowed under federal law, Ms Durand allegedly offered to reimburse four friends if they also contributed to the campaign.
Mr Scotto told CNN that he was surprised by the congressman’s reaction.
“I'm a New York City reporter. I'm used to pushback but I never encountered anything like that,” he said on Wednesday.
See which US politicians are guilty of the worst Autocue disasters below:
Ten of the best Autocue disasters
Ten of the best Autocue disasters
1/7 Dominic Cooper and Rosamund Pike fluff the BAFTAs
Awards ceremonies seem cursed with autocue disasters. The BAFTA Awards in 2011 saw actors Dominic Cooper and Rosamund Pike flounder after the machine broke. Pike panicked and nearly read out the winner of Best Original Screenplay before she had announced the nominees. Ever the consummate professional, host Jonathan Ross dashed in to stop her, joking that it was 'the fastest (he had) moved for years'.
2/7 'The former home of the poet and author...Hilaire Bollock.'
BBC South presenter Sally Taylor gave poet Hilaire Belloc an X-rated surname in April 2009, when she described a building as 'the former home of the poet and author Hilaire Bollock'. Many would have crumbled, into fits of giggles or sheer mortification, but Taylor continued straight-faced with not so much as a pause.
3/7 'Sorry about that guys.'
Even the most powerful men in the world fall at the feet of the omnipotent teleprompter. Barack Obama is always accompanied by two devices but, in July 2009, one gadget tumbled over and smashed while he was giving a speech about the economy. 'Oh goodness! Sorry about that, guys,' he said before ad-libbing like a champ.
4/7 Bill Clinton shows everyone how it's done
Then there was Bill Clinton in 1993, who was plagued by an Autocue mare while speaking to Congress. Horror of horrors, his teleprompter had been plugged with someone else’s speech and it took a 'please ground swallow me up' seven minutes to rectify the error. Or at least, that’s how many would have described it. Not the US president, however, who plodded on from memory as if nothing had gone awry.
5/7 'You're watching ABC News. I'm Michael Roland.'
Like Taylor, Australian news presenter Virginia Trioli opted for the 'pretend nothing happened' method when, in 2010, she told ABC’s audience: 'Good morning. You’re watching ABC News 24. I’m Michael Roland.' Being able to announce one’s own name without technological help is sort of a prerequisite of any job, surely?
6/7 Brian Cowen copies Barack Obama's speech
Former Irish prime minister Brian Cowen read 20 seconds of an address that Barack Obama had given moments earlier on St Patrick’s Day in 2009. It took him a good few lines before the political leader realised that he had been accidentally copying his host’s words – ouch.
7/7 Gordon Brown's face mask
Former Labour Party leader Gordon Brown was launching his 2007 campaign when a damned Autocue screen went and obscured half his face during a speech. Apparently news crews had been given strict restrictions about where the cameras could be placed, meaning that Brown’s address was broadcast to audiences who could not see him.