Less than an hour later, a terse Koch stood amid the Georgian splendor of his City Hall office and retorted: "Donald Trump has engaged in invective, but I have no intention of letting this degenerate into a barnyard kind of contest" - this from the man who referred Monday to "piggy, piggy, piggy, piggy Donald Trump."
The dispute revolves around the future site of NBC's corporate headquarters. The network, which has announced that its old quarters in Rockefeller Center are cramped and outdated, has been considering three options: expanding its Rockefeller Center facilities; abandoning the city for an expansive site in Secaucus, N.J., or moving into a nine-acre plot in Trump's proposed Television City development, an enormous complex on Manhattan's Upper West Side that would include commercial towers, thousands of residential units and the world's tallest skyscraper.
Trump, of course, favors Television City. Koch says he doesn't care where NBC goes as long as it doesn't leave New York, and he's spent much of this week talking up alternate Manhattan locations in such areas as Battery Park City and Columbus Circle. NBC says it will make its final decision sometime this summer.
To make the Television City option feasible, Trump had asked for a string of concessions from the city, including tax abatements, reductions on energy costs and exemption from construction sales taxes. Trump said the concessions were fair. Koch said they amounted to "three times what we'd ever given anybody else" for a Manhattan project.
"You would not believe how close this city was to losing NBC two weeks ago," Trump said yesterday. "If I have done anything, I have mobilized an extremely incompetent city into working to save NBC."
Koch remembers it differently, saying it was Trump who called City Hall, frantic over the breakdown of negotiations and demanding that Koch "make" NBC accept Trump's deal.
This led to an exchange of letters last week, with Trump berating the city for "incompetence" and Koch asserting that he would not cave in to Trump's ''intimidation." Late last week, the letters became public and the whole situation exploded.
Trump said the mayor "can't hack it anymore" and should "resign immediately." Koch said Trump was just being "greedy" and should not expect City Hall to finance his schemes "on the backs of New York taxpayers."
Trump said Koch "has no talent and only moderate intelligence." Koch said if Trump was "squealing like a stuck pig, I must be doing something right."
Neither of them are known as shrinking violets and they've had, at best, a strained relationship over the years.
Last year, Trump embarrassed the mayor by offering to rebuild a Central Park skating rink, a job the city had left in a shambles after spending $15 million over seven years - and Trump got the job done weeks ahead of schedule for only $2.9 million.
But never has the animosity been so intense and the snipes so public as in the last week.
"This is larger than an NBC issue," Trump said yesterday. "The city of New York has really become a cesspool; a cesspool of corruption and a cesspool of incompetence. What's happening is a disgrace. We have a real problem in this city, we have people in the government who just don't have it."
Koch responded by reading the text of a statement Trump had made last week to a gathering at the city's Vietnam Veterans Memorial, referring to Koch as ''a good man and a good mayor." Koch shrugged and grinned widely. "Will the real Donald Trump please stand up?" he asked.
In the latest maneuver, Trump volunteered yesterday to sell the nine-acre portion of his Television City project to the city for "substantially under cost" if it kept NBC from leaving.
"If it's such a good deal, why doesn't he just sell it to NBC?" Koch asked when informed of the proposal. "Why does he need to sell it to the city first?"
Nevertheless, Koch said, the city would take a close look at Trump's latest offer and continue pushing NBC to remain in New York.
"If they decide to go with Donald Trump's site, that's fine with me," Koch said. "I bear no animosity as it relates to the site. Is that clear?"