NBC Laments Weiner Resignation as 'Sad Ending' to 'Bright, Promising Political Career'
As news broke Thursday morning of Congressman Anthony Weiner's upcoming resignation, congressional correspondent Luke Russert appeared on NBC's Today and sympathetically declared: "...this is really a sad ending, a lot would say, to what was once a bright, promising political career."
Moments later, NBC political director and chief White House correspondent Chuck Todd similarly touted Weiner's role in Democratic politics: "...he was serving as sort of the bombastic angry progressive, you know, trying to almost be the anti-Tea Party liberal in Congress taking on these folks. He'd become sort of a hero to the more progressive left, who were always upset that Democrats don't stand up for themselves. So here was the guy that had all this potential to become a huge political figure..."
On Friday's Today, Russert again reported on Weiner's resignation and asserted that Republicans had "no chance" of winning a special election to fill the seat, a fate which they were "willing to accept."
Later on Thursday, fellow congressional correspondent Kelly O'Donnell remarked that Weiner's resignation announcement had "showed much of his strength as a congressman."
Here is a full transcript of the June 16 segment:
MATT LAUER: And good morning, everyone. I'm Matt Lauer along with Ann Curry, a Democratic source with knowledge of the situation tells NBC News that Anthony Weiner, the Democratic Congressman from New York, has decided to resign his seat in Congress. This following a week of daily revelations, drip, drip, drip, none of those revelations good for Congressman Weiner. A series of text messages and photos between the Congressman and a series of young women across the country. NBC's Luke Russert's on Capitol Hill. He's got more on this. Luke, good morning.
LUKE RUSSERT: Matt, after a nearly two-week saga that engulfed the Democratic Party, Anthony Weiner informed Nancy Pelosi last night while she was at the White House congressional picnic that he would, in fact, step down and resign as a member of Congress. This comes after nearly one week of his fellow colleagues calling on him to step down because they said he was a distraction to the party, prohibiting them – prohibited them from talking about issues they deemed to be important, such as the economy and health care.
What can we tell you that happened this morning, Matt? Well, around 9:30 a.m. we saw staffers leaving Anthony Weiner's D.C. office up here on Capitol Hill. They left with their belongings, they would not say where they were going. The door was then locked and the office lights were turned out and then all phone calls made to Anthony Weiner's office would go directly to voice mail.
So we can now report Anthony Weiner has stepped down and this is really a sad ending, a lot would say, to what was once a bright, promising political career. The youngest person ever elected to the New York City council back in the early '90s, elected to Congress in 1998. Somebody who had a $4 million war chest saved up for a possible run for Mayor of New York in 2013 has now resigned as a member of Congress and his political future is certainly unclear this morning.
LAUER: Hey, Luke, I'm asking you to speculate a little bit here, but obviously this comes just about a day after his wife Huma returned from an overseas trip with her boss, the Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, and it came as Congress ramped up the pressure on Congressman Weiner. Do we know whether this was the result of pressure from his wife, pressure from his colleagues, or a little of both?
RUSSERT: It's certainly a combination, Matt. And what we've heard from sources throughout this whole ordeal is that Anthony Weiner would not make any final decision about his political future until he had a face-to-face consultation with his wife. She arrived back here in Washington about 4:30 a.m. yesterday morning. We presume that that consultation did occur.
Also, Matt, the timing on this is interesting. At 10:45 a.m. today Nancy Pelosi was slated to give a press conference, the first one that she was going to give since this scandal started. Well, we can now know that the announcement she would give this press conference went out last night, she obviously knew he was going to step down, which would make her more inclined to go before the cameras. Because if she had to go before the cameras and answer questions as to why he was still a member of Congress it would have proved somewhat politically difficult. So the writing was certainly on the wall these last few days and now it has occurred, Anthony Weiner no longer representing New York's Ninth Congressional District, Matt.
LAUER: Alright, Luke Russert on Capitol Hill. He's been covering the story from the very beginning. Luke, thank you very much.
ANN CURRY: Alright, let's bring in NBC's Chuck Todd. NBC's political director and chief White House correspondent. Chuck, good morning to you.
TODD: Good morning, Ann.
CURRY: Given that the already intense pressure on Anthony Weiner was about to intensify, did he really have any other choice?
TODD: He didn't appear to, and he appeared to make this decision yesterday because it was last night, you know, the White House – President Obama, who by the way, was the most recent person in that interview with you, Ann, to call on Weiner to resign – it was at a White House congressional picnic last night Anthony Weiner called Nancy Pelosi and Steve Israel – he is chairman of the Democratic Campaign Committee, but also a member of the New York delegation, sort of one of the persons that's been a go-between between Pelosi and Anthony Weiner in this – and it was last night, yesterday evening, that Weiner called the two of them and said that he would be resigning this morning.
CURRY: And given his ambitions and also his – the prospects that he once had, give us some sense about how steep this fall is.
TODD: It's a pretty big fall. This is a guy who was a protege of Chuck Schumer. He's the senior senator from New York, very famous for being unafraid of going before any TV camera, having Sunday news conferences. He learned sort of at the foot of Chuck Schumer, this idea of being a little blunt, a little in your face, always knowing how to get media attention.
And for Anthony Weiner, his eyes were on the mayoralship of New York City. He almost ran four years ago and thought he could beat – decided he couldn't beat Bloomberg when Bloomberg decided to run for a third term. He was getting this together to try to run again and he was serving as sort of the bombastic angry progressive, you know, trying to almost be the anti-Tea Party liberal in Congress taking on these folks. He'd become sort of a hero to the more progressive left, who were always upset that Democrats don't stand up for themselves. So here was the guy that had all this potential to become a huge political figure had he become mayor of New York City and now it's going to be tough for him where he goes next. Huma, his wife, very close to the Clintons, maybe they can help him out. But it's not clear where he goes next. Being a politician was what he thought he was going do for the rest of his life.
CURRY: Meantime, I'm sure today you're going to hear a lot of relief from the Democratic Party members, but I wonder how you think this is all going to play out. Specifically, he's – now they need to have an election to fill his spot. How's – what is the timing? What is the – what is the thing that you would expect to happen over the course of the next couple of days.
TODD: Well, it's a little bit awkward with what's going to happen in New York State because New York is supposed to lose two congressional districts and lawmakers in Albany have to figure out which ones they're going to get rid of. Now it probably means they will get rid of this one, but there will be, for – until now – between now and January of 2013, they'll have to have a special election and you'll see that and perhaps some familiar names to New York City folks may decide to run for that seat. But the seat's probably going to be gone and so that makes for an awkward waste of money, frankly, for the State of New York to do this. And, you know, the rest of this week is gone for the Democrats in trying to talk about Medicare, talk about the economy, but I think at this point they finally get to turn the page and go back to trying to beat the Republicans up over the Paul Ryan Medicare plan, which they believe they were getting traction on until this Weiner mess exploded.
CURRY: Alright, well, Chuck Todd, always great to talk to you. Thanks so much for your perspective.
LAUER: So the headline once again. New York Congressman, a Democrat, Anthony Weiner has decided to resign his seat in Congress after this scandal, this sexting scandal kind of developed around him and because of him over the last couple of weeks. We're going have much more on this story throughout the morning on MSNBC and MSNBC.com and of course, a complete wrap-up tonight on NBC Nightly News.
- Kyle Drennen is a news analyst at the Media Research Center. Click here to follow Kyle Drennen on Twitter.