Kasie Hunt’s work on Capitol Hill didn’t prepare her for what she and millions of Americans witnessed Wednesday, as a mob stormed one of the most significant buildings — both symbolically and practically — in the United States.
But once the rioters, who'd thrown the Capitol into chaos, lost ground, the NBC News correspondent took to Twitter to share her reaction to the events of the day, from the moment that “felt like a final blow” to the reality that allows her to hold on to “hope for the future.”
“It's been a day of putting my head down, setting my feelings aside and doing my job trying to document everything we saw,” the 35-year-old wrote in the first of a long series of tweets. “But I need to take a moment to reflect on what has happed here at the U.S. Capitol, a place I've been privileged to cover on and off for over a decade. ... I've covered this place when Republicans ran it and when Democrats ran it.”
Looking back on her career, she stressed that she truly loved the work and the place, “even with all of its deep foibles and flaws.” Covering American politics from that vaulted venue meant a great deal to her personally.
“When I first started, I was in awe that our system of government allowed reporters -- the free and protected press -- to roam the halls of the branch of government laid out in Article I of our Constitution,” she continued. “There were lions here: John McCain, Ted Kennedy, John Warner...early on, Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton and Joe Biden were all here too. I could wander up to any one of them, tape recorder in hand, and demand they answer my questions.
"And while the job has always been to hold power to account, and I have covered my share of cowards and hypocrites and worse, I have also been inspired by the public servants who come here to try and make our world better.”
The dividing line she noticed between those who where open versus those who were closed off, between the “lions” and the “cowards,” was never a party line.
“Political party is not character,” Hunt wrote. “I have always believed character matters. It will always matter to me. It will always matter to my reporting. I have also always been inspired by our system of government. I was raised to believe in the American dream, in what we represented, in what we were supposed to be in the world: An example, an aspiration. I have always been so proud to be an American.
"And I always have viewed my job, first and foremost, as delivering information to my fellow citizens so they could decide how we should be governed. So they would have the tools they needed to make decisions about how to govern us. Because they do govern us. The people.”
But she admits that, over the course of the past four years, her faith in that system has been shaken.
“I have wanted to believe the best of our leaders. I have been willing to see it,” she explained. “But it's clear our country today isn't living up to what we have promised to be. Watching the Capitol I love be swarmed felt like a final blow.”
What she saw as rioters filled those hallowed halls called everything into question.
“We are supposed to lead the world,” Hunt wrote. “We are supposed to have the kind of strength that demands dictators and autocrats are shamed and driven from power. How are we to be that leader when our own shrine to democracy is overrun?”
In the tweet that followed, she said she refused to believe the country couldn’t take back “its place as moral leader of the free and democratic world.” She added that, "I know there are good people who are willing to lead. I really hope they don't let all of us down.”
And hope is what it really comes down to — it’s what’s needed in order to move forward and to mend the damage that’s been done. That’s the topic she addressed first thing Thursday morning, as she returned to Twitter to ask followers and viewers of her MSNBC show, “Way Too Early:” What maintains their sense of hopefulness in the wake of the mob attack on the Capitol?
As for her own answer to that question, Hunt didn’t hesitate to share her very compelling “hope for the future.”
The photos revealed the little one caught in the act as he confidently threw himself into a cubby on a shelf filled with books and toys.
“Watching him learn and grow makes my heart sing,” she said in closing.