When Public Officials Threaten The Reporters Just Trying To Keep Them Honest

You'd think that Fox News host Bill O'Reilly, who holds a master's degree in broadcast journalism, would appreciate a good investigative story. Last week, Mother Jones published a piece with accusations that O'Reilly had embellished key details about his reporting on the Falklands War. When a New York Times journalist started poking around the scandal, O'Reilly let him know how he felt about reporters who dig up less-than-flattering stories and, you know, report on them. (Hint: He wasn't happy.)

"I am coming after you with everything I have. You can take it as a threat.”

With that, O'Reilly joined the long tradition of threatening journalists trying to do their jobs. Journalists are often responsible for keeping a skeptical eye on those in the public sphere -- particularly anyone with influence -- and we all benefit from their diligent work. Public officials should especially be able to stand up to questioning. Unfortunately, that's not always the case.

Below, some of the most memorable incidents when officials let a question or two get the better of them:

"Let me be clear to you. If you ever do that to me again I'll throw you off this f--king balcony. You're not man enough. You're not man enough. I'll break you in half. Like a boy."

Rep. Michael Grimm (R-N.Y.) to a NY1 reporter, following a question about campaign finance reform after the 2015 State of the Union address.

"Use my name again unauthorized and you'll be paying for an attorney. Your rights stop where mine start."

Woefully uninformed Maryland city council member Kirby Delauter to a Frederick News-Post reporter who had written an article about him, and called for comment.

"You send another goon to my daughter's house and I'll take you out, buddy!"

Tea Party gubernatorial candidate Carl Paladino to a New York Post editor in 2010, accusing him of sending a man to photograph Paladino's formerly secret daughter. The editor had asked Paladino for evidence of his claim that opponent Andrew Cuomo had been unfaithful in a previous marriage.

“If I put this up your -- ha! -- your butt -- ha ha! -- you’ll find out how effective this is!”

Chicago mayor Richard M. Daley to a Chicago Reader reporter in 2010, picking up a rifle after a question on the effectiveness of the city's gun ban.

"All that crap, you're putting it in the paper? It's all been denied. Katie Graham's gonna get her tit caught in a big fat wringer if that's published. Good Christ! That's the most sickening thing I ever heard."

U.S. Attorney General John Mitchell to Washington Post reporter Carl Bernstein and publisher Katherine Graham, responding in 1972 to a front-page story detailing Mitchell's potential involvement in the Watergate scandal.

"If you guys keep interfering with my business, I'm going to have you arrested."

Duval County, Texas, Sheriff Santiago Barrera Jr. to a Alice Echo-News Journal reporter in an interview after the reporter had published a story on the sheriff's adult son being charged with public intoxication and resisting arrest.

"It's hard to take you seriously. I just have a feeling I've, like, stepped into a Monty Python bit."

New York City mayoral candidate Anthony Wiener to a British ITV reporter who had asked him about his decreasing poll ratings.

“Look, if you don’t want me to take this to you, gentlemen, leave.”

Rep. Artis McCampbell (D-Ala.), holding a golf club, to an ABC news crew in 2010 as they questioned him about "sordid or illegal behavior" by state officials.

"I’m not going to let you do to me what you did to Stanley McChrystal."

Chicago mayor Rahm Emanuel to BuzzFeed reporter Michael Hastings, after allegedly "grabbing" Hastings during an interview.

"[Knocks microphone out of reporter's hand]"

Detroit's Deputy Fire Commissioner Fred Wheeler to a FOX 2 reporter who was investigating conditions inside some of the city's firehouses.



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