‘Ridiculous’: Rangel trashes ‘Times’ endorsements of his rivals, then and now

Rangel. (Azi Paybarah via flickr)
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After an endorsement event at City Hall this afternoon, Representative Charlie Rangel said it was "ridiculous" that the New York Times endorsed his opponents in two consecutive races, and described confronting Eleanor Randolph, a member of the paper's editorial board, to describe the "formula" that could lead to such a conclusion.

"The last time they endorsed it was Joyce Johnson for the Congress and this time they endorsed Clyde Williams," Rangel told a handful of reporters after a press conference outside of City Hall this afternoon. The 21-term Democratic congressman said when he met with members of the editorial board, "I asked how could they do something so ridiculous."

In 2010, when Rangel was facing allegations that he violated House ethics rules, The Times didn't have many alternatives to Rangel. Assemblyman Adam Clayton Powell IV was widely seen as the strongest rival, but with his own ethical issues. The Times held their nose, and endorsed Johnson, a former district leader who they offered modest praise.

This year, they backed Williams, a former aide to Bill Clinton who also worked at the Democratic National Committee in the first half of Barack Obama's term. (Williams was also endorsed by the Daily News.)

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In endorsing Williams, the Times actually dealt a blow to one of Rangel's leading challengers, State Senator Adriano Espaillat, who, like a majority of residents in the newly drawn district, is Latino.

Rangel though, didn't see anything positive in the Times decision-making.

The congressman said the editorial page should have been more influenced by at least one story written by the paper's own Sam Roberts, who reported earlier this month that Rangel was challenging the ethics investigation that lead to his 2010 censure.

"Just tell me how the editorial board of the New York Times can say Clyde Williams would be a better representative for my district, my city my state," he said. "What was the formula that you selected"?

Rangel has enjoyed chiding the media in the past, particularly the New York Post. Today's unprompted diatribe against the Times happened a few minutes before Rangel went over to the NY1 studios for a debate with the other candidates in the race.

UPDATE: In a statement, Williams said, "My opponents have spent a lot of time in this campaign attacking each other personally. Just look at today's debate. Now Mr. Rangel is attacking the integrity of The New York Times. That kind of political ‘stop and frisk’ tactic is what is wrong with politics in Albany and in Washington. And it shows why we need a change. It's why so many in the community have joined my journey and the New York Times, Daily News and West Side Spirit have noticed and confirmed I am the best candidate. I've got the ideas, energy and experience to deliver change and I have the vision to appeal to the full measure of District 13’s diverse community.”