On Friday, the CBS Early Show failed to make any mention of New York Democratic Congressman Charles Rangel being censured by the House of Representatives on Thursday for 11 ethics violations. ABC's Good Morning America and NBC's Today did cover the historic punishment, but adopted a very sympathetic tone toward Rangel.
In a slightly extended news brief on Good Morning America, co-host George Stephanopoulos described the censure as "an unusual moment," seeming to lament that Rangel "had to accept the punishment." Correspondent Jonathan Karl remarked that Rangel "was defiant right to the end" and "told reporters this was a very political vote." Stephanopoulos concluded the report by praising such bitterness: "That's right. He fought it. He tried to get an alternative passed. But in the end, handled that apology with real grace."
On Today, correspondent Kelly O'Donnell declared that "This is the kind of history making moment that makes everybody around here sad." Later, co-host Matt Lauer spoke with Meet the Press anchor David Gregory about the issue and wondered: "...you look at this scene on the House floor yesterday, did anybody feel good about that?" Gregory replied: "Nobody did, there's no question about it....this was a bipartisan vote, a painful vote. Nobody likes to see it. Nobody likes to stand in judgment in such a humiliating way of their colleague."
Here is a transcript of the December 3 Good Morning America report:
GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: Meanwhile, there was quite an unusual moment on the floor of the House yesterday, when Congressman Charles Rangel, long-time veteran of the House, former chairman of the House Ways and Committee [sic], was censured for various ethical violations. That's the first time in 27 years that's happened to a member of Congress. He had to accept the punishment. He then went to the floor to apologize.
CHARLES RANGEL (D-NY): But, I'm going to be judged by my life, my activities my contributions to society. And I just apologize for the awkward position that some of you that are in. But at the end of the day, as I started off saying, compared to where I've been, I haven't had a bad day since. Thank you.
KARL: Such an extraordinary moment, George. Not only because of its rarity, as you mentioned. Only 23 members have ever had this happen. We haven't seen it for three decades. But also because just a little over a year ago, Charlie Rangel was one of the most powerful political figures in Washington. And I have to tell you, he was defiant right to the end. After that, he told reporters this was a very political vote.
STEPHANOPOULOS: That's right. He fought it. He tried to get an alternative passed. But in the end, handled that apology with real grace.
Here is a transcript of the Today report:
MATT LAUER: Now to politics and a rare scene on Capitol Hill on Thursday. Congressman Charles Rangel censured on the House floor for violating ethics rules. NBC's Capitol Hill correspondent Kelly O'Donnell has more on this. Kelly, good morning to you.
[On screen headline: "Sorry Charlie, House Censures Rangel For 11 Ethics Violations"]
KELLY O'DONNELL: Good morning, Matt. This is the kind of history making moment that makes everybody around here sad. For the first time since 1983, the House censured one of its own, finding that New York Democrat Charlie Range was in violation of 11 ethics rules. A tense and dramatic ritual on the House floor.
REP. NANCY PELOSI: Will the gentleman from New York, Mr. Rangel, kindly appear in the well.
O'DONNELL: As Speaker of the House it was Nancy Pelosi's duty to formally admonish her longtime friend and ally.
PELOSI: Resolved that Representative Charles Rangel of New York be censured.
O'DONNELL: This public shaming ended a two-year bipartisan investigation.
REP. ZOE LOFGREN: We found that Representative Rangel engaged in misconduct in four areas.
O'DONNELL: Among the violations, Rangel failed to pay some taxes and report income and misused his office to raise millions for a college center in his name.
REP. JO BONNER: Regretfully this is a day that did not have to be.
O'DONNELL: The Ethics committee argued that Rangel deserved a serious punishment because he had been in charge of the powerful tax writing committee.
REP. MICHAEL MCCAUL: Most egregiously the committee found that Mr. Rangel failed to pay his income taxes for 17 years.
O'DONNELL: Rangel expressed sorrow-
REP. CHARLES RANGEL: Let me apologize to this August body for putting you in this very awkward position.
O'DONNELL: -acknowledged he broke rules-
RANGEL: I have made serious mistakes.
O'DONNELL: -but then Rangel and his supporters argued for a lesser sanction, saying censure had been used for congressmen convicted of crimes or sexual misconduct. New York Republican Peter King argued censure was too severe.
REP. PETER KING: If expulsion is the equivalent of the death penalty then censure is life imprisonment.
O'DONNELL: But overwhelmingly the House chose censure.
UNIDENTIFIED CONGRESSMAN: On this resolution the yays are 333, the nays are 79.
O'DONNELL: Later, Rangel's tone turned more bitter, saying past defenders brought more dishonor to the House.
RANGEL: I think history would show that a different standard has been used in this case where I did not curse out the Speaker, I have not tried to have sex with minors, I did not steal any money.
O'DONNELL: And Rangel repeatedly pointed out that the committee did not find his mistakes were about trying to advance some personal gain, but still this was a very serious punishment. But it ends here, there are no outside criminal charges pending and Rangel will be sworn-in for his 21st term in January. Matt?
MATT LAUER: Alright Kelly O'Donnell on Capitol Hill for us this morning. Kelly, thanks very much. David Gregory is moderator of Meet the Press. David, good morning to you.
DAVID GREGORY: Good morning, Matt.
LAUER: You know in Washington there, there is often no love lost between the two parties, the Republicans and Democrats, oftentimes they seem to take delight in the shortcomings of the other. And yet you look at this scene on the House floor yesterday, did anybody feel good about that?
GREGORY: Nobody did, there's no question about it. And it was frankly more Democrats who voted for the censure resolution than Republicans. So this was a bipartisan vote, a painful vote. Nobody likes to see it. Nobody likes to stand in judgment in such a humiliating way of their colleague. But this was something that's been dragging on for a while and Charlie Rangel talking about the standards being used and whether it should have been a reprimand versus a censure. So fighting all along the way which, along the way, made it more difficult for Democratic leaders.