On Thursday, the network morning shows were beside themselves with enthusiasm over Democrats taking to the House floor to demand gun control with an all-night sit-in. On NBC’s Today, correspondent Peter Alexander was particularly swept up in the excitement and declared the partisan political stunt to be “Truly one of the most dramatic demonstrations on the House floor in modern American history.”
At the top of the NBC morning show, co-host Savannah Guthrie proclaimed: “Breaking overnight, unprecedented chaos on the Hill....An extraordinary sit-in on the House floor stretches into the early morning hours. Democrats, refusing to leave, demanding action on gun control.” Moments later, she observed: “This is a fight that appears to be far from over this morning.”
Alexander followed: “...make no mistake, this was dramatic, like nothing we've ever seen before. Truly one of the most dramatic demonstrations on the House floor in modern American history.” He decried how House Speaker Paul Ryan “muscled through the rest of the week's business, then adjourned without any vote scheduled on guns.”
Cheering on the Democratic posturing, Alexander announced: “Democrats with signs bearing the names and faces of gun violence victims....Their voices echoed on the Capitol steps, hundreds gathering in support, rallied by Congressman John Lewis, the civil rights icon who spearheaded Wednesday's sit-in.”
Opening ABC’s Good Morning America, co-host Robin Roberts hyped: “And breaking overnight, the historic sit-in showdown stopping Congress in its tracks....As the battle over gun control boils over, house Democrats shouting down the speaker.” Moments later, fill-in co-host and World News Tonight anchor David Muir chimed in: “...this was really something to watch overnight.... They want action on gun control and they want it now.”
Correspondent Jon Karl gushed: “Overnight, a chaotic showdown on the House floor. A protest like we've never seen before. Democrats in Congress staging a sit-in on the House floor like a bunch of student protesters on a college campus, vowing to stay put until they get votes on gun control measures.”
On CBS This Morning, co-host Charlie Rose led off the broadcast: “Chaos in Congress as House Democrats stage an all-night sit-in to push for a vote on gun control.” He later touted: “A confrontation over gun control brought pandemonium to the House of Representatives overnight....Civil rights campaigner John Lewis and other House Democrats staged a sit-in...”
In the report that followed, correspondent Nancy Cordes asserted that “the rules appear to have gone out the window” and promoted the effort: “It started as a sit-in, but by nightfall, Democrats were on their feet, holding up the names and pictures of Orlando victims as a crowd of supporters swelled in the gallery and outside.”
Here are full transcripts of the coverage on all three June 23 shows:
7:00 AM ET TEASE:
SAVANNAH GUTHRIE: Breaking overnight, unprecedented chaos on the Hill.
HOUSE DEMOCRATS: No break, no bill! No break, no bill!
GUTHRIE: An extraordinary sit-in on the House floor stretches into the early morning hours. Democrats, refusing to leave, demanding action on gun control. Republicans branding it a stunt, attempting to shut it down with a vote to end the session.
UNIDENTIFIED MAN [REPUBLICAN CONGRESSMAN]: The House stands adjourned.
GUTHRIE: So where does the fight go from here?
7:01 AM ET SEGMENT:
MATT LAUER: First, we’ve got some major news coming from Capitol Hill.
SAVANNAH GUTHRIE: That's right, we’ll start with that raucous scene on the floor of the House chamber. A Democratic protest to force votes on gun control. This is a fight that appears to be far from over this morning. NBC national correspondent Peter Alexander is at the Capitol for us. Peter, good morning.
PETER ALEXANDER: Hey, Savannah, make no mistake, this was dramatic, like nothing we've ever seen before. Truly one of the most dramatic demonstrations on the House floor in modern American history. I just left the House chamber a moment ago. We’re going to put up a live picture right now. There are still more than a dozen Democrats in the chamber participating as part of this staged sit-in. Some bringing pillows. They ate pizza on the floor overnight.
Paul Ryan overnight, the Republican House Speaker, muscled through the rest of the week's business, then adjourned without any vote scheduled on guns. And Congress won't really be back in session until July 5th.
[ON-SCREEN HEADLINE: Chaos on Capitol Hill; Dems Hold Sit-In on House Floor in Gun Control Protest]
Overnight, a Democratic rebellion on the House floor, demanding a vote on gun control. Chaos erupting as Republican House Speaker Paul Ryan tried to restore order.
RYAN: But the chair would hope that the business of the House could be conducted.
HOUSE DEMOCRATS: Shame! Shame! Shame!
ALEXANDER: The demonstration producing this partisan confrontation.
REP. LOUIE GOHMERT [R-TX]: Radical Islam kill these people.
ALEXANDER: Democrats with signs bearing the names and faces of gun violence victims, breaking into song, rewriting the chorus to We Shall Overcome.
HOUSE DEMOCRATS [SINGING]: We shall pass a bill someday.
ALEXANDER: Their voices echoed on the Capitol steps, hundreds gathering in support, rallied by Congressman John Lewis, the civil rights icon who spearheaded Wednesday's sit-in.
REP. JOHN LEWIS [D-GA]: You must never, ever give up or give in or give out.
LEWIS: I felt like I'm reliving my life all over again.
ALEXANDER: Speaker Paul Ryan earlier dismissing the demonstration.
RYAN: This is nothing more than a publicity stunt. This isn’t trying to come up with a solution to a problem, this is trying to get attention.
ALEXANDER: The unprecedented drama beginning Wednesday morning.
REP. JOHN LARSON [D-CT]: We will occupy this floor.
ALEXANDER: Loud chants disrupting the House session.
UNIDENTIFIED MAN [REPUBLICAN CONGRESSMAN]: The House will be in order.
ALEXANDER: Republicans forced to go into recess. The cameras showing the sit-in turned off. Cameras controlled by the Republican House Speaker. Democrats taking to social media, producing their own broadcast, violating House rules.
REP. STENY HOYER [D-MD]: Give us the right to vote on these two bills. Help make America safer and let's do it now.
ALEXANDER: Hillary Clinton standing by the sit-in, tweeting, “House Republicans may have cut the cameras, but they can't cut off our voices.” The Democrats want votes on background checks and a “No Fly, No Buy” bill, blocking gun sales to suspected terrorists. But House Republicans aren't backing down. One conservative, Steve King, tweeting, “I've had it with the gun-grabbing Democrats and their sit-in anti-Second Amendment jihad. I'm going to go home and buy a new gun.”
ALEXANDER: Again, another live picture from the House floor right now. There you can see the House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi addressing the Democrats as part of this staged sit-in. So where does it go from here? Congressman John Lewis overnight passionately addressing Democrats, saying, “We have other bridges to cross. On July 5th, we'll be back to start over again.” Matt and Savannah?
GUTHRIE: Alright, Peter Alexander, as the sun folds on Capitol Hill, thank you.
Good Morning America
7:00 AM ET TEASE:
ROBIN ROBERTS: Good morning, America. And breaking overnight, the historic sit-in showdown stopping Congress in its tracks.
DEMOCRATIC CONGRESS MEMBERS: No bill, no break! No bill, no break!
ROBERTS: As the battle over gun control boils over, house Democrats shouting down the speaker.
REP. LOUIE GOHMERT: Radical Islam killed these people!
ROBERTS: As the Republicans battle back, the fight raging all night long as lawmakers still refuse to leave the floor.
7:01 AM ET SEGMENT:
DAVID MUIR: Congress, this was really something to watch overnight. It's still going on right now. This scene playing out on the House floor. Some members of congress live streaming, Periscoping, even doing Facebook live. Who knew that they knew all this technology? But it's really for a serious effort. They want action on gun control and they want it now. But that vote doesn't look like it's going to happen.
ROBIN ROBERTS: Speaker Paul Ryan doing everything he could to get control to no avail, even shutting down the cameras. ABC's Jon Karl is there for us and has the latest. Good morning, Jon.
JON KARL: Good morning, Robin. And the die-hards are still there. They've been there all night. Right now on the House floor even Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi and they've gotten more than on million people watching this on Twitter alone. Overnight, a chaotic showdown on the House floor. A protest like we've never seen before. Democrats in Congress staging a sit-in on the House floor like a bunch of student protesters on a college campus, vowing to stay put until they get votes on gun control measures.
PAUL RYAN: The House will be in order.
KARL: The House Speaker tried to restore order.
RYAN: The chair appreciates that members will differ on matters of policy.
KARL: But Democrats refuse to back down. Singing and waving signs with the names of victims of gun violence. It went on throughout the night. The House floor sometimes looking like a rowdy slumber party.
SENATOR ELIZABETH WARREN: I just brought Dunkin' Donuts.
WARREN: Lawmakers brought in snacks. Piles of late night pizza.
REP. JOHN LEWIS: Thank you for getting in trouble.
KARL: Leading the revolt, civil rights icon Congressman John Lewis. Nearly 200 Democrats joined in as news of the protest spread, Representative Keith Ellison received this message during a meeting. “Your mom called and wants you on the floor.” Democratic senators joined in too, including Bernie Sanders fresh off the campaign trail.
REP. LOUIE GOHMERT: Radical Islam killed these people!
KARL: Furious Republicans tried turning off the cameras, declaring the Democrats are breaking the rules. Undeterred , the protesting Democrats used their cell phones to broadcast the sit-in on social media. The #nobillnobreak trending number one on Twitter. Republicans fired back with their own hashtag tweeting, “Stop the stunt.”
SPEAKER PAUL RYAN: This isn't trying to come up with a solution to a problem. This is trying to get attention.
KARL: And if you look right now we can go to pictures on the House floor, Nancy Pelosi is talking and keep in mind as you watch these pictures, this is being shot by the members of Congress themselves using their cell phones. And Robin, that is a strict violation of the rules. You are not allowed to take pictures yet alone video inside the House chamber. But as you can see right now all bets are off.
ROBERTS: Yes, we can see that. People want to know any indication that the Republicans will give in to what the Democrats are demanding?
KARL: There is zero indication that's going to happen, Robin. Republicans say for two reason, one, they don't want to reward this breaking of the rules. They say this is a complete breakdown of decorum, of the way the House should work. But also they point out that the very votes that are being demanded right now by Democrats, those bills have already been voted on in the Senate and they have failed. So even if there were miraculously a vote, even if they were somehow passed in the House, they have already died in the Senate.
ROBERTS: And so it goes. All right, Jon. Thank you.
CBS This Morning
7:00 AM ET TEASE:
CHARLIE ROSE: Chaos in Congress as House Democrats stage an all-night sit-in to push for a vote on gun control. House Speaker Paul Ryan calls the action a “publicity stunt.”
7:03 AM ET SEGMENT:
CHARLIE ROSE: A confrontation over gun control brought pandemonium to the House of Representatives overnight.
REP. JOHN LEWIS [D-GA]: We're calling on the leadership of the House to bring common sense gun control legislation to the House floor. Give us a vote! Let us vote!
ROSE: Civil rights campaigner John Lewis and other House Democrats staged a sit-in on the House floor. It started before noon yesterday, and a handful of members are still on the floor right now.
NORAH O’DONNELL: But Republican House leaders refuse to bend to the Democrats' demand for a vote on new gun laws. Nancy Cordes is on Capitol Hill with the all-night protest in response to the Orlando massacre. Nancy, good morning.
NANCY CORDES: Good morning. Well, Congress is a place that lives and dies by the rules, but all of the rules appear to have gone out the window. At this hour, there are still about a dozen House Democrats on the floor, they are still talking. Some of them have blankets. A much less chaotic scene than what we saw overnight. Republicans tried to head all of this off by adjourning the House a day early and for nearly two weeks. But Democrats say they're not going anywhere.
[ON-SCREEN HEADLINE: Chaos in Congress; House Up All Night as Democrats Sit-In Over Guns]
It started as a sit-in, but by nightfall, Democrats were on their feet, holding up the names and pictures of Orlando victims...
HOUSE DEMOCRATS: No bill, no break!
CORDES: ...as a crowd of supporters swelled in the gallery and outside.
PROTESTERS: Do your job! Do your job!
UNIDENTIFIED MAN [DEMOCRATIC CONGRESSMAN]: If you're a suspected terrorist, by God, you shouldn't get a gun!
CORDES: They were able to disrupt business, but not stop it altogether.
PAUL RYAN: The chair would hope that the business of the House could be conducted in a fashion that respects positively on the dignity and the decorum of this institution.
CORDES: So they cast their votes on a series of unrelated measures and kept right on chanting.
HOUSE DEMOCRATS [SINGING]: We shall overcome.
CORDES: According to House rules, once the gavel hits, the cameras turn off. So members used phones to stream the protest online.
UNIDENTIFIED MAN [DEMOCRATIC CONGRESSMAN]: You can help us win this battle, America!
CORDES: At 11 p.m., one Republican, Louie Gohmert of Texas, decided he had enough.
LOUIE GOHMERT: Radical Islam killed these people.
UNIDENTIFIED MAN [DEMOCRATIC CONGRESSMAN]: No fly, no gun!
CORDES: But Georgia Congressman and civil rights icon John Lewis urged his colleagues not to give up.
LEWIS: Don't let nobody, but nobody, turn you around!
CORDES: In the wee hours of the morning, Democrats taunted Republicans.
UNIDENTIFIED MAN [DEMOCRATIC CONGRESSMAN]: I'm so pleased that you have such courage! Come now, join us in this debate!
CORDES: But Speaker Ryan was unmoved by the spectacle, saying they won't get the gun vote they want.
PAUL RYAN: This is nothing more than a publicity stunt. They know that we will not bring a bill that takes away a person's constitutionally-guaranteed rights without their due process.
CORDES: Congressman Lewis compared the sit-in to another struggle.
LEWIS: It took us three times to make it all the way from Selma to Montgomery. We have other bridges to cross. And when we come back in July, we'll start all over again.
CORDES: Specifically, Democrats want votes on who two measures – one to strengthen background checks, and another one that would prevent people on the No-Fly List from being able to buy a gun. But both of these measures came up for a vote in the Senate earlier this week and both of them failed. The same thing would likely happen here in the House. Democrats are huddling this morning to figure out what to do next.
ROSE: Thanks, Nancy.