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Reporters and politicians used to be able to argue and move on

January 30, 2014 - Paul Giannamore
The screaming headlines: “New York Congressman threatens to ‘break reporter in half.'”

“Embattled Congressman threatens to throw reporter off a balcony.”

And so on.

Now, I’m not sure, but I think back in the days of actual reporters and actual congressmen, these kinds of things got said, everybody’s faces turned red, and everybody went back to their neutral corners to interview or ignore one another on a different day.

Now, as I understand the current situation, U.S. Rep. Michael Grimm, a Staten Island Republican, is in hot water over campaign financing. As such, he should figure every time he sticks his head out of his office, he’s going to get whack-a-mole’d by the nearest reporter.

It looks like he agreed to give an interview to NY1 reporter Michael Scotto, and Scotto was well within his rights as a reporter to try to get in a question about the campaign finance issue. Grimm is a public figure, and anything he’s dealing with is fair game. I don’t know if there were gentlemen’s ground rules beforehand that Scotto agreed with or violated by asking about the finance issue, and we never will know because claim and counterclaim will obscure the truth now that the issue is much larger than a reporter and a congressman.

It looked to me like Scotto did his job, noting that Grimm had refused to answer the question and it looked like, had Grimm simply walked away at that point, the “back to you” would have sent the video feed somewhere else. Grimm most assuredly screwed up by walking back into the frame and getting accusatory with Scotto, no doubt in my mind.

My problem becomes that now, with instant video feeds around the world, the preservation of everything for everyone to see forever on multiple websites, this one moment in time is preserved forever. And the whole world gets to react.

And even my two cents ends up on the Internet for worldwide view, or at least to the 18 people who click on here every day or two.

Which is why I’m not about to take off Grimm’s head or wade into the situation too deeply except to note this: Politicians have always and forever made bold pronouncements about what they would do to the pesky chaps and ladies with the pens. And the chaps and gals with the pens, at least the ones I know and at least some of the national folks who’ve written about such situations, gritted it out, walked away and told some really, really good stories over beer in the bar or coffee in the press pool the next time everybody was sitting around waiting for some damned politician to come out and make some pronouncement. Or get whack-a-mole’d.

Unless there’s evidence of Grimm actually breaking people in half or earning gold in the 40-Meter Balcony Reporter Toss in the past, this is just a couple of guys doing their thing, unfortunately with a camera rolling (and barely audible audio getting the enhancement of subtitles after the event…).

In other words, much ado about very little here. Yep. Pols get angry. But humans are humans. Even when we stroke their ego by electing them to office.

If Rep. Grimm proves to be guilty of something, he’ll get his hide justifiably adjusted by the press corps and the people in his district. But this incident should be nothing but a footnote, a tale for a reporter to smile about when he tells a story among his peers years from now, not the Sensation of the Year.

Or the moment, at least.

Because besides giving us the opportunity to overblow human behavior, the Internet also moves us on quickly to the Next Big Thing.


Article Comments



Feb-15-14 11:56 AM

REp. Grimm could have said This interview is over and walked away.Threatning anyone with harm is bad conduct from anyone.


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