Capitol Hill media figures took a break from ongoing impeachment coverage on Thursday evening to honor NBC News Correspondent Kelly O’Donnell with a career achievement award.
O’Donnell is the first woman to receive the Radio & Television Correspondents Association’s Career Achievement Award for Distinguished Reporting on Congress. A 25-year veteran of the network, O’Donnell quipped, “Could I ask this of the RTCA board. Could we call this the ‘Mid-Career Achievement Award’?”
Also honored at the event were Mary Bruce, ABC News’ senior congressional correspondent, who won the Joan S. Barone Award for political reporting in the past year. She covered the Brett Kavanaugh confirmation hearings. The BBC’s Clive Myrie won the David Bloom Award for his reporting on the source of the opioid crisis. CNN’s Kim Uhl received the Jerry Thompson Memorial Award, recognizing career achievement in photojournalism.
O’Donnell has covered not just Capitol Hill, but the White House and six presidential election cycles, and she has interviewed President Bill Clinton, President George H.W. Bush, Vice President Dick Cheney and first ladies Laura Bush and Rosalynn Carter.
“The news business is at its heart a business of questions,” O’Donnell said. “Most questions we ask of others, the newsmakers we cover, but some are questions best directed at ourselves. Will I be worthy of what is required today? Knowing it could be a seemingly ordinary day or one where another piece of history is carved. Will I be fair? Will I be thorough? Will I keep my opinions out of my work? Will I keep a sense of humor and a sense of humanity?”
She was especially close to two senators on opposite ends of the political spectrum — John McCain and Ted Kennedy. She recalled that McCain once told her that one day when the Senate gallery was full of spectators, and a rather uneventful issue was being debated on the floor, McCain “walked over to Ted Kennedy and said something along the lines of ‘We’ve got a full house. Let’s give ’em a show.’ And the two men launched into a thundering debate arguing with passion and loving every second of it.”