Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Why Do You Make Me Do This?!

"You're a sleazy reporter!"  He seethed into my face releasing the strong smell of booze into my nostrils. "And I'm glad I got to know that," he continued, his eyes red rimmed, and coated with a clear sheen.  "Ok," I responded, seeing that the conversation was quickly devolving, "Thanks for your time," I continued, and turned to walk away.  "Oh F*%k you!" he blurted, annoyed by my sudden politeness, and he staggered away, veering sharply to his left, then, over correcting wildly, and snapping quickly to his right. The man, who we will call Allen, was upset with a story I had reported about some unfortunate events in his life (I will withhold his name because he was cleared of any wrongdoing)
Rep. Michael Grimm (R) accosts reporter Mike Scotto

I thought of the encounter this morning as I read about New York Congressman Michael Grimm threatening to throw a reporter "off this f#*king balcony" after NY1 corespondent Mike Scotto tried to ask the representative about allegations of improper handling of campaign finances.

Scotto was interviewing the congressman about President Obama's State Of The Union Address, and his last question of the congressman was about the investigation.  Grimm refused to answer the query and stormed off, only to march back a few seconds later and threaten the reporter.

Allen, wasn't being interviewed when he accosted me, it was really a chance meeting, but I suspected, when I saw him posted outside my office, that there would be fireworks that evening.

I had stepped outside the 2News studios in downtown Salt Lake City, just before 10 PM to do a live report, when I noticed Allen sitting awkwardly on a planter near our Main Street Studios.  I found it kind of humorous, because the pot Allen had plopped down upon was wide, but very short, so as he sat with his neck craned back so he could watch  the Jumbotron screen, that shows our newscasts live, outside our station, his knees where thrust high into his chest, and his arms dangled, lifeless, down both sides of his body.  Allen listed side to side, as he watched the images flicker across the large television screen, and then he noticed me as I put my IFB in my ear, and fastened a small lav mic to the lapel of my coat.

He slowly ambled his way towards me, casually looking to his right then left as if he was just out for a leisurely stroll directly in to the marble pillar by which I was standing.

I decided to make it easy for him, and I approached Allen with my hand extended.  he, gently grabbed my palm and slowly squeezed tighter and tighter, and without releasing his grip, seethed and  fumed about "sources," and a "smear campaign" when in reality I'd done one story about him, based on allegations filed in court.  After about 5 minutes of his glossy eyed rant, I responded, "perhaps you should turn your attention to the person who made the allegations," I suggested, as I prepped myself for my live report, "Oh f*&k you!" he yelled, then wandered away.

Later that night someone emailed me a link to his Facebook where he posted details of the encounter on the page, and reveled in his "confrontation."  In the comment section, his friends wrote statements like: "Go get 'em Allen,"  he reveled in the encounter, only to delete the entry the next morning, presumably after sobering up.

Oddly, several weeks later, he came across a co-worker of mine from 2News, and Allen told him he "felt badly," about what he'd said, and asked my friend if he should try to get in contact with me to "have a beer and talk it out."   My Colleague said "sure," but I never heard from Allen.

The day after his outburst, Allen regretted it, and had been ruminating on it for weeks.  This morning Rep. Micheal Grimm, likely regrets what he said, and would like to move on.  the difference of course is Allen shouted his profanity at me, on a near empty street, and reveled about it in the abyss that is social media.  Grimm on the other hand, exploded in front of a camera, near a "hot" mic.  Allen wanted to explain to me what happened, and that he was sorry, Grimm is likely readying an apology for all 84,000 voters in district 11.

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