Congressman Threatens Reporter Over On-Camera Follow-Up: "I'll Break You in Half. Like a Boy."

Your News Companion by Ben Mathis-Lilley
Jan. 29 2014 12:10 AM

Congressman Threatens Reporter Over On-Camera Follow-Up: "I'll Break You in Half. Like a Boy."

Protip: The camera doesn't automatically turn off when the reporter kicks it to the studio with a "back to you."

Josh Voorhees Josh Voorhees

Josh Voorhees is a Slate senior writer. He lives in Iowa City. 

As you can see in the clip above, that'll apparently be news to Rep. Michael Grimm, a New York Republican facing an investigation into possible campaign finance violations. During a post-SOTU interview Tuesday night, Grimm walked off camera after it became clear that NY1 reporter Michael Scotto planned to ask about the allegations. After Scotto tossed it back to the studio—but with the camera still rolling—Grimm can then be seen walking back into (and through) the shot to aggressively confront Scotto for daring to ask a follow-up question about something other than President Obama's address.

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It's hard to make out exactly what the congressman says to Scotto in the clip, but at one point it sounds as though he warns, "I'll break you in half." According to the write-up on the station's website, that was only part of the threat. Here's the transcript of the off-camera exchange, as transcribed by NY1:

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 later released a statement explaining—but not apologizing for—his actions. "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 Staten Island rep said in a prepared statement. "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 continued: "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."

Update Wed. Jan. 29: Grimm has now apologized. I doubt it will be the last time.

***Follow @JoshVoorhees and the rest of the @slatest team on Twitter.***

This post has been updated to include more information as it became available.

Josh Voorhees is a Slate senior writer. He lives in Iowa City. 

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