Following Minnesota Senator Al Franken announcing his resignation on Thursday amid a series of sexual harassment allegations, CBS News special coverage of the lawmaker’s departure lamented what a “big blow” it was for the Democratic Party to lose someone with such a “nationwide progressive profile.” Anchor Bianna Golodryga even grieved “the end to a potentially storied career.”
Noting that it was “quite an emotional speech from the Senator,” Golodryga turned to Chief Congressional Correspondent Nancy Cordes for analysis. Cordes touted how Democrats on Capitol Hill were in mourning: “…it’s a big blow to the Democratic Party writ large. There are a lot of long faces around here today, Bianna. Democrats who, though they believe this is definitely the right thing for him to do, take no joy in it.”
Explaining why Franken was supposedly so beloved by his colleagues, the reporter hailed his status as a prominent left-wing voice in the country and top fundraiser:
She sorrowfully concluded: “So to have him fall so fast, in just a matter of weeks, is very disappointing to the entire party.”
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Continuing to memorialize Franken’s political career, Golodryga went to correspondent Jamie Yuccas in Minnesota to get “reaction at home from those who voted for him.” Like Cordes, Yuccas only found sadness: “Bianna, I can tell you the word I keep hearing over and over again is disappointment. There are number of people who didn’t want to see him step down, that they thought that this was something that the Republican Party had kind of pushed and that they wanted him to just continue on as a senator.”
She then proclaimed: “When you look at Senator Al Franken’s career….people were very proud of the work that he was doing within the Senate, the people here in Minnesota specifically. So this is a very disappointing day for people here.”
Wrapping up the network special report, Golodryga told viewers: “So that’s it, the end to a potentially storied career – ended by sexual accusations.”
12:03 PM ET
BIANNA GOLODRYGA: He was elected in 2008. He said that this was the best experience of his career and that he would fight on for the rights of all Americans as a private citizen. I want to go to our Nancy Cordes, Chief Congressional Correspondent, who’s on Capitol Hill. Nancy, you’ve been following this since day one. Quite an emotional speech from the Senator, who, up until a couple of weeks ago, believed that he could still keep his job.
NANCY CORDES: Right, and it’s a big blow to the Democratic Party writ large. There are a lot of long faces around here today, Bianna. Democrats who, though they believe this is definitely the right thing for him to do, take no joy in it.
You know, Al Franken is one of very few Democrats in Congress who can truly claim to have had a nationwide progressive profile, even before he came to the Senate in 2009, because of his Air America radio show. And that led to him having, you know, a true ability to raise money for other lawmakers. He had a national voice, he was sought after as a campaign surrogate, and he was even viewed as someone who could potentially run for president in 2020. So to have him fall so fast, in just a matter of weeks, is very disappointing to the entire party.
And there were a number of Democrats in the beginning who felt that perhaps he could pull through. Perhaps they could wait for the results of an ethics investigation. Who felt that what he had done was not the same as say a Harvey Weinstein or even a Roy Moore, and they felt that that should be made clear. However, as the number of women who accused him piled up, it became clear to them that what he was alleged to have done was disturbing in its own right and that he needed to go.
GOLODRYGA: Yeah, he’d even been asked if there had been any other incidents he had known or was aware of when he gave a press conference a few weeks ago. And he said no, but he couldn’t say that there were none that were going to be coming forward in the days and weeks ahead. And of course, some have. He also went on to say, “I have used my power to be a champion of women. There has been a different picture in the last few weeks, but I know who I am.” And he didn’t spare a moment to go on to say that he was well aware of the level of irony with regard to these types of accusations leveled against the President of the United States and of course Roy Moore, running for senator in Alabama as well.
CORDES: Right. And from speaking to people close to him, he does still appear to believe that he did nothing wrong. But that, in itself, has been something of a disappointment to Democrats, particularly Democratic women here on Capitol Hill. You heard in his speech just now that he feels that all women should be believed, and yet, he doesn’t seem to feel that these particular women who are accusing him should be believed. He said some of them apparently are making it up, he said that the accusations just aren’t true, and in other cases, he remembers what happened differently.
So this could potentially have gone a different way if he were willing to acknowledge that he had sometimes crossed the line. That’s something that some Democratic women, in particular, were hoping to hear from him. But he still maintains, essentially, that he either doesn’t remember doing any of this, or that he simply didn’t do it. And that is disappointing, even to a number of his friends.
GOLODRYGA: Yeah, it was a game changer yesterday when we heard from six Democratic female senators, spearheaded by Senator Gillibrand, that he should step down, in their opinion. Nancy Cordes our thanks to you.
We want to go now to Minneapolis, to Minnesota, his home state, and get reaction there from Jamie Yuccas about what the next plan is, the reaction at home from those who voted for him. Those at home who maybe thought that he should step down. Jamie, what are you hearing on the ground?
JAMIE YUCCAS: Bianna, I can tell you the word I keep hearing over and over again is disappointment. There are number of people who didn’t want to see him step down, that they thought that this was something that the Republican Party had kind of pushed and that they wanted him to just continue on as a senator. And have that Ethics Committee kind of look at things. I will tell you, the state is so proud. They are people who really like being in the national spotlight for good. And so this is very disappointing that he is resigning for this reason.
I’m standing right now at the Hubert H. Humphrey School of Public Affairs, a vice president. When you look at Senator Al Franken’s career – Paul Wellstone, he talked about, died in a plane crash. People here were so saddened by that, that was a tragedy for the people of Minnesota. Walter Mondale, a former vice president, ran for that seat and lost to a Republican. That is when Senator Al Franken, in 2002 [sic], stepped in, and as he talked about, lost by only 300 – or there was a difference of 300 votes. Norm Coleman lost by 312 votes, Al Franken then took the seat. He then ran again in 2008 and people were very proud of the work that he was doing within the Senate, the people here in Minnesota specifically. So this is a very disappointing day for people here.
I can tell you that moving forward, the governor of Minnesota has the opportunity to appoint someone. It sounds like, from a number of circles, I’ve talked to many people in politics here in Minnesota who say that person will be the lieutenant governor. Her name is Tina Smith. She is somebody who is widely known within both the Republican and Democratic Party here in Minnesota. She has worked with the governor for several years, is a very well liked in both the Democratic and Republican Party here in Minnesota. She did tremendous work after the I-35 W bridge collapse, and she did that work with Governor Tim Pawlenty, who was a Republican. So people see her as a good replacement for now, but someone that may not run for the seat later on because she’s so well connected. Bianna?
GOLODRYGA: Yeah, and that would be two female Democratic senators from the state there serving until the special election. Again, that will be next year, next November, in 2018. For those who had caught Al Franken say that his successor, and referred to her as “her,” that’s who he was talking about likely, Tina Smith. The governor, Mark Dayton, will likely be appointing her as the interim senator.
So that’s it, the end to a potentially storied career – ended by sexual accusations. The accusations of course against Al Franken, saying that he will be resigning from his seat in the coming weeks.
This post originally appeared on NewsBusters