CBS Commiserates Over 'Painful' Censure of Rangel, Looks for 'Silver Lining'
According to CBS Evening News host Katie Couric on Thursday, the censure of Charles Rangel was "painful" for "everyone watching" and a "fall from grace." Reporter Nancy Cordes also tried to find the "silver lining" in the Congressman's reelection.
Cordes sympathetically recounted, "It was a shaken Speaker Pelosi who read the resolution censuring her longtime ally, 80-year-old Charles Rangel, as he stood in the well of the House." Apparently asserting a universal emotion, Couric proclaimed, "It was painful for him and for everyone watching."
In closing a report on the subject, Cordes seemed to put the best possible spin on the fact that Rangel is only the 23 House member in the history of the United States to be censured: "If there is a silver lining for Mr. Rangel, it's that this two-and-a-half year ordeal is now over. There are no criminal charges against him and he easily won reelection last month."
The two other evening newscasts, NBC's Nightly News and ABC's World News both recounted the story without such drama and hyperbolic language.
This isn't the first time that network journalists have found sadness in the fall of Democratic Congressman. The June 6, 1994 issue of the Media Research Center's Notable Quotables highlighted the "American tragedy" of Dan Rostenkowski, convicted of mail fraud:
"You're a fierce partisan on the other side of the aisle from Dan Rostenkowski, but you're also an admirer of good legislators. How do you feel about this personally? Is this an American tragedy?"
-Good Morning America co-host Charles Gibson to Newt Gingrich, May 26, 1994.
"It's a big loss for the President. It's a big loss for the Congress, and I think it's a big loss for the country."
-- NBC reporter Lisa Myers, Today, May 25, 1994.
A transcript of the December 2 segment, which aired at 6:30pm EST, follows:
KATIE COURIC: Tonight, fall from grace.
NANCY PELOSI: The House has resolved that Representative Charles Rangel of New York be censured.
COURIC: It was painful for him and for everyone watching. Veteran Congressman Charles Rangel was censured today by the House of Representatives despite his last-minute plea for a lesser punishment for financial misconduct. Censure is a formal condemnation and the New York Democrat is the first House member to be censured since 1983, one of 23 in the history of the nation. Congressional correspondent Nancy Cordes was there.
NANCY PELOSI: The gentleman from New York, Mr. Rangel, kindly appear in the well
CORDES: It was a shaken Speaker Pelosi who read the resolution censuring her longtime ally, 80-year-old Charles Rangel, as he stood in the well of the House.
CHARLES RANGEL: Council and the committee found no evidence at all of corruption, found no evidence of self enrichment.
PETER KING [REP. R-NY]: If expulsion is the equivalent of the death penalty, then censure is life imprisonment-
CORDES: Last month, a House ethics panel found the former Ways and Means chair guilty of 11 violations, including failing to report hundreds of thousands in assets, improperly using rent-controlled apartments in New York, and failing to pay taxes on his villa in the Dominican Republic for 17 years.
ZOE LOFGREN [REP. D-CA]: It brought discredit to the House when this member with great responsibility for tax policy did not fully pay his taxes for many years.
CORDES: Several members, Democrats and Republicans, pleaded that the punishment be downgraded to a reprimand, the kind of slap on the wrist Congressman Joe Wilson received after shouting, 'You lie!,' during a presidential address last year.
G.K. BUTTERFIELD [REP. D-NC]: And I ask you to consider a dozen factors – his age, 80 years of age, combat military service of three year as a volunteer, Bronze Star, Purple Heart.
CORDES: Perhaps seeking sympathy, Rangel also invoked his 60-year-old war record.
RANGEL: I was wounded and had no thoughts that I would be able to survive.
CORDES: The last time a censure was issued was 27 years ago, to Republican Daniel Crane of Illinois and Democrat Jerry Studds of Massachusetts for engaging in sexual relations with teenage congressional pages.
RANGEL: I brought it on myself, but I still believe that this body has to be guided by fairness.
CORDES: If there is a silver lining for Mr. Rangel, it's that this two-and-a-half year ordeal is now over. There are no criminal charges against him and he easily won reelection last month. Katie.
— Scott Whitlock is a news analyst for the Media Research Center. Click here to follow him on Twitter.