Bad behavior followed by a total lack of crisis management does not bode well for the latest politician to be caught behaving badly
New York Congressman Michael Grimm (R-Staten Island) is the latest politico to lose it on camera, and it’s not pretty. In an interview for New York’s NY1 News just after the recent State of the Union address, Rep. Grimm answers a couple of questions, then quickly gets out of the shot once reporter Michael Sotto gears up to ask him about alleged campaign finance violations from his camp.
Now here’s where it gets ugly – as soon as Sotto signs off with a, “back to you” for the studio, the Congressman stalks back in and gets in Sotto’s face, telling him, “Let me be clear to you, you ever do that to me again and I’ll throw you off this f#%@!ing balcony.” They trade a few more words, then Grimm threatens Sotto once again, shouting, “You’re not man enough, you’re not man enough. I’ll break you in half. Like a boy!”
The cameraman, a true pro, kept rolling through the whole thing, producing indisputable evidence of the incident.
What crisis management tactic would Grimm employ? Well…none apparently. Here’s his quite unapologetic statement explaining what happened:
“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.”
This is not a gag, the above really is the statement issued by the Congressman after being caught threatening to maim or kill a member of the media on camera in the middle of the Capitol, which is why we don’t exactly need a crystal ball to see a bit of trouble in Grimm’s future.
Update 1/29: Grimm has reportedly apologized to Michael Sotto in a telephone call, along with releasing a new, far more politically correct, statement. NY1 reports:
Staten Island Rep. Michael Grimm has apologized to NY1 political reporter Michael Scotto a day after physically threatening him at the conclusion of an interview in the Capitol Rotunda following the president’s State of the Union address.
Grimm called Scotto Wednesday morning and offered the verbal apology saying he “overreacted.”
Scotto tells NY1 he accepted the apology and believes that it was sincere.
Grimm also released a written apology following the phone call.
It reads, “I was wrong. I shouldn’t have allowed my emotions to get the better of me and lose my cool. I have apologized to Michael Scotto, which he graciously accepted, and will be scheduling a lunch soon. In the weeks and months ahead I’ll be working hard for my constituents on issues like flood insurance that is so desperately needed in my district post Sandy.”
For more resources, see the Free Management Library topic: Crisis Management
[Jonathan Bernstein is president of Bernstein Crisis Management, Inc., an international crisis management consultancy, author of Manager’s Guide to Crisis Management and Keeping the Wolves at Bay – Media Training. Erik Bernstein is Social Media Manager for the firm, and also editor of its newsletter, Crisis Manager]