Joe Scarborough and Crew Lament the 'Sad,' 'Terrible' Ordeal of Charlie Rangel
MSNBC's Joe Scarborough and his Morning Joe co-hosts on Friday commiserated over the "sad," "terrible" ordeal that Charlie Rangel suffered through while being censured. Echoing many liberals in the media, Scarborough commented, "People want to forgive Charlie. They do." He fretted, "And, Norah, a sad day yesterday on the hill."
Journalist Norah O'Donnell recounted the censure for failing to pay taxes as a "very moving moment" and complemented Rangel's "very emotional statement." on the floor of the House. At one point, co-host Mika Brzezinski offered a one word description for the Democrat's punishment: "Terrible."
Later in the morning, while talking to Republican Dave Camp, Scarborough chided those who might not feel sorrow over Rangel's predicament: "I was trying to explain to everybody, and a lot of partisans may not understand this, this was a genuinely sad moment, not only for Democrats yesterday, but so many Republicans." (He didn't specify these unnamed Republicans.)
Scarborough did criticize Rangel, but seemed pained to do it: "He should have taken the deal and spared himself and his Democratic friends who love him- even the Republicans were very respectful on the floor yesterday. They respect this man. He's a war hero."
A transcripts of the two conversations, which aired on December 3, can be found below:
JOE SCARBOROUGH: And, Norah, a sad day yesterday on the hill. Most Democrats said "Hey, he deserved it." But, it was sad. Charlie Rangel having to stand before the House being censured.
NORAH O'DONNELL: It was a very moving moment. I mean, censure happens very rarely. This is the first time in three decades. It's the most severe punishment short of expulsion. You could tell there were a lot of Democrats upset they had to do it. But, he was censured.
SCARBOROUGH : Nancy Pelosi was struggling to get through it.
O'DONNELL: He was censured. I thought she was struggling as well. He seemed emotional. He blamed it on, sort of, politics and then had the very emotional statement where he said, you know, I didn't have sex, I didn't steal. He called it politics. But, clearly, I mean, what a fall from grace for a man that served Harlem for half of his lifetime.
MIKA BRZEZINSKI: Terrible.
SCARBOROUGH: I know. And served his country as well. It's unfortunate when he did say it was politics when, again, even Democrats on the hill, we were up there, we were saying we hate it happened.
BRZEZINSKI: And wish we didn't have to do this.
SCARBOROUGH: But he's the guy that writes laws on taxes and he didn't pay taxes for 15 years.
BRZEZINSKI: Everybody was in a bad position.
SCARBOROUGH: He put everybody in a bad position and even last night he couldn't say I messed up and I'm sorry. People want to forgive Charlie. They do.
ANDREA MITCHELL: The painful thing was watching Pelosi and then she had to say, "And you will pay your back taxes for the property in the Dominican Republic," it brought it down to the level of what the actual facts were once he talked about his service, being wounded in Korea and all of that. And you looked at him and thought of career. And then she talked about what was really involved, that was the reality.
SCARBOROUGH: Yeah. That was the reality. He should have taken the deal. I was going to say, it's about the only deal he passed up on for the past 30 or 40 years. He should have taken the deal and spared himself and his Democratic friends who love him- even the Republicans were very respectful on the floor yesterday. They respect this man. He's a war hero.
SAM STEIN (Huffington Post): You're right. I mean, it would have spared a lot of people embarrassing moments. I was struck that in his defense Democrats were saying, well, "You know, Tom Delay, Newt Gingrich, they got off far easier." Well, you know, the reason they got off far easier is what propelled Democrats to run against the culture of corruption and say we're going to install these new ethics policies. For the party to turn around and say Charlie should get off easy, it was impossible. They put him in an impossible position. It was an unfortunate fall from grace.
SCARBOROUGH [To Dave Camp]: Now, you obviously worked very closely with Charlie Rangel through the years on the Ways and Means Committee. I was trying to explain to everybody, and a lot of partisans may not understand this, this was a genuinely sad moment, not only for Democrats yesterday, but so many Republicans. When I said, you going to see Rangel? And they're like, "God, I don't want to. It's going to be painful."
DAVE CAMP: Well, I like Charlie. I was ranking member. He was chairman for a time.
SCARBOROUGH: Most people like him there?
CAMP: He's very likable. Obviously has a tremendous- War hero, tremendous record. But, it's a sad day. It was a sad day for the House. But, the rules are the rules.
SCARBOROUGH: Yeah. And that's what everybody is saying.
— Scott Whitlock is a news analyst for the Media Research Center. Click here to follow him on Twitter.