Grenell said Sunday on Fox News that the untimely passing of the 46-year-old Oscar-winning actor has been mischaracterized — and he's out to correct the record.
"I have a problem more...that the word tragic and sudden is used. That should not be used," Grenell said.
Grenell evidently has a litmus test for tragedies, and Hoffman's fatal heroin overdose does not qualify.
"A tragedy is when a single mother dies of cancer or a family dies in a car accident. That's a tragedy. This situation is sad, but it wasn't unexpected and we could see this coming," Grenell said, adding that the media should not "glamorize" Hoffman's death.
The observation seemed to leave liberal commentator Bill Press stunned.
"Well, I don't mean to quibble but I think it's a tragedy when a father of three young kids dies suddenly at the age of 46," Press said, drawing a disagreement from Grenell.
"It wasn't sudden," Grenell said.
"Yes, it was," Press shot back.
Grenell was tapped to serve as a foreign policy spokesperson for Mitt Romney's 2012 campaign, but stepped down after social conservatives attacked him for being gay.