More evidence that Congressman Michael Grimm’s thuggish behavior towards a NY1 reporter was no isolated incident continues to emerge, as another reporter has come forward to say that she has been a victim of his anger.
For those who’ve been living under a rock, Congressman Grimm was giving an interview to NY1 reporter Michael Scotto from a balcony of the Capitol building in response to Obama’s State of the Union address on Tuesday. Scotto wrapped up the interview, then sought to get a comment from Grimm about the federal probe into his campaign fundraising, a question the congressman has been dodging for months. Grimm walked off camera, then returned when he thought the cameras were off and, with profanity-laced language, threatened to throw Scotto off the balcony. The congressman, a former marine and FBI agent, then told Scotto he’d break him in half… “like a boy.”
The next morning, in a statement by NY1 News Director Bob Hardt, it was revealed that veteran political reporter Errol Louis had a similar confrontation with the congressman in December 2012.
And later that day, I shared my experience with the congressman in 2012, in which he and a goon got in my face, shouting, in a clear attempt to intimidate.
The common thread in all of those accounts is that we were all asking about the allegations of misconduct into his campaign’s fundraising.
Now Marin Cogin, a National Journal reporter, has come forward with a similar story from the congressman’s earliest days in office. It appears the congressman did not want to take responsibility for his own words, and, after getting in trouble with his colleagues, furiously demanded the reporter alter his quote.
Here’s the relevant section:
Even before that New Yorker story came out, I had a good sense of Grimm’s temper. In March 2011, he was part of the freshman class I covered as a reporter for Politico, and I wrote a story about him criticizing fellow conservatives for risking a government shutdown. “I don’t represent the tea party or anybody like that, I represent Staten Island and Brooklyn. If we’re going to make those cuts they’re going to be smart,” he told me at the time. The tea party did not appreciate that statement. So Grimm’s press secretary called me back to insist he’d said “I don’t represent only the tea party” and that I needed to issue a correction. I checked my notes, confirmed my quote, and told them I was sorry but I couldn’t issue a correction. At the time it seemed like a matter of principle: I wasn’t going to issue a correction just because someone was experiencing a bit of controversy over his words. And that’s when Grimm got on the phone and started shouting at me.
It’s been a few years since this happened, and I don’t remember all of the details. I do remember him repeatedly yelling that he “did not serve 10 years in the FBI!” to have to put up with something like this. To be clear, at no time did I feel threatened, nor did I feel particularly scared or upset–although that seemed pretty clearly to me to be what he was trying to accomplish. I was a little shocked, but I gave as good as I got, and he took it to my editor, and we eventually settled on this blog post where he got to clarify his claims. Compared to last night’s outburst, it was pretty tame. Still, I’ve never dealt with anyone so angry before, or since.
I recommend you read Cogin’s entire post. But for those who are still wondering what the big deal is over Grimm’s temper, she wraps it all up rather succinctly with her final sentence.
“Do we really want a political culture in which journalists can’t ask public officials legitimate questions without getting browbeaten?” she asks.