Threatening to break a reporter in half is not considered best practices in public relations.
I understand being irritated by the reporter’s statement that the Congressman didn’t want to talk about a campaign finance issue. The reporter had to say something to end the segment, although he didn’t have to say the Congressman didn’t want to talk about campaign finance allegations. But he did.
Apparently, the NY representative had only promised to answer questions related to the President’s speech and was in a hurry to get to another interview. But not so rushed that he couldn’t come back and threaten to throw the reporter off the balcony or break him in half. (With some “you’re not a real man” macho insinuation thrown in.)
We don’t do this. Media relations is a two way street – reporters ask any question they want (with the exception of some pre-negotiated interviews) and sources answer them or use some tactful bridging technique to avoid really answering them. The game is played with courtesy and respect with a goal to building a relationship that benefits both parties. Threatening to throw reporters off balconies or break them in half hardly builds rapport.
The Congressman’s explanation didn’t help. All he had to do was keep walking away; the story would have evaporated in minutes. Instead he came off as a bully and the story’s got legs. Don’t be surprised if more questions are asked about that campaign finance issue.