Mayor de Blasio Calls For Apology After Michael Grimm Threatens To Break NY1 Reporter In Half

  @EllenKilloran on January 29 2014 10:46 AM
Grimm Mike WikiCommons 2
U.S. Rep. Mike Grimm, R-Staten Island. WikiCommons

UPDATE 11:06 AM ET: Michael Grimm has called Michael Scotto to apologize, NY1 has reported. Scotto told NY1's Annika Pergament that he felt the apology was "sincere" and "friendly."

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Staten Island Rep. Michael Grimm threatened to assault NY1's Washington, D.C., correspondent Michael Scotto after the reporter asked him an “off-topic” question following an interview about President Obama's State of the Union address Tuesday night at the U.S. Capitol.

Grimm has so far defended his behavior, but New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio is among those who are demanding an apology.

At a press conference Wednesday morning, Mayor de Blasio told reporters that Grimm's behavior was "unacceptable."

"We’re going to have moments between all of us in public life and all of you who do your job where we have disagreements or tensions, but it’s absolutely inappropriate for it to be expressed in that manner," de Blasio said.

"There has to be neutral respect even when your questions are tough -- your job is to ask tough questions," the mayor continued. "But to physically threaten someone? That's something no public servant should do. And I think he owes Mr. Scotto an apology." 

When Scotto tried to ask the congressman about a federal investigation into his 2010 campaign fundraising, Grimm cut him off with an angry refusal: "I'm not speaking to you off-topic, this is only about the president," Grimm said, before walking away from the interview.

A few moments later he returned and got in the reporter's face, who was by then off-camera. The exchange wasn't entirely audible, but NY1 published a transcription Wednesday morning.

"Let me be clear to you, you ever do that to me again I'll throw you off this f***ing balcony,” Grimm told Scotto, who appeared to be quite taken aback but maintained his composure. Grimm continued to berate and threaten the reporter: "No, no, you're not man enough, you're not man enough. I'll break you in half. Like a boy."

The congressman released a statement following the incident, and it is far from conciliatory.

"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.

NY1 Political Director Bob Hardt released a statement as well, in which he insisted that Grimm offer a full apology.

"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. This behavior is unacceptable," reads the statement.

Michael Scotto gave an interview on NY1 Wednesday morning, where the reporter said that he has not been contacted by Grimm or anyone on his staff. Still, Scotto appears to be taking the incident in stride. “For me, this comes with the territory,” he told NY1's Annika Pergament. “Being a journalist and asking questions sometimes comes with pushback.”

In October, witnesses at a Bay Ridge, Brooklyn, bar said that the congressman had gone into the ladies' room with a female acquaintance, where they remained for about 15 minutes. Grimm later denied the rumors, telling the New York Post the allegations were a "typical Democrat-led smear campaign."

Grimm's Communicaton Director Carol Danko resigned earlier this month. Danko told the Staten Island Advance that her three years in the position were "unforgettable." 

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