Though opinions remain mixed regarding the prolonged vote for speaker of the House, a consensus seems to be growing that it made for good television and, in order to make such broadcasts possible going forward, Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.) proposed an amendment to move beyond the current “antiquated and boomer-fied” coverage.
Over the course of four days and 15 votes, the American people were awarded a rare glimpse beyond the dais to see representatives-elect interacting with one another throughout the chamber. Lacking a speaker until Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) was elected also meant a lack of rules, and therefore no restrictions were placed on how the proceeding was to be broadcast.
Tuesday, Gaetz asked a simple question, “Should we keep the @CSPAN cameras in Congress?”
That query posted to Twitter was accompanied by a clip of CNN’s “The Lead with Jake Tapper” where a panel discussed precisely that and the host himself said, “I found the video gripping and engrossing. It probably made people more interested in what’s going on.”
— Rep. Matt Gaetz (@RepMattGaetz) January 10, 2023
The Florida congressman also shared an interview he had with Fox News Digital and noted, “Americans deserve to know when we are frustrated, kind, present, or absent. The current pool view of the Congress is antiquated. My amendment will allow @CSPAN cameras on the House floor–bringing greater transparency and humanizing the entire process.”
— Rep. Matt Gaetz (@RepMattGaetz) January 10, 2023
As he told the outlet, “I’ve received a lot of feedback from constituents about how interesting it was and that you were able to see in real time how our government is functioning, what alliances are being created, what discussions are being had, what animated moments drive the action. And the pool view of the Congress is antiquated and a little boomer-fied.”
Tapper shared a screenshot of the proposed amendment that read in part, “The Speaker must allow the Cable-Satellite Public Affairs Network (C-SPAN) to broadcast and record the floor proceedings of the House with not less than 4 cameras owned and operated by C-SPAN.”
— Jake Tapper (@jaketapper) January 10, 2023
Gaetz went on to tell Fox News Digital, “I have talked to a handful of colleagues and I have yet to encounter one who didn’t view the broader transparency as a net positive.”
“It’s interesting to see how our leaders communicate with one another, and it’s humanizing. I had constituents reach out to me about a friendly chat that the country observed me having with [Texas Democratic Rep.] Sheila Jackson Lee. And while Sheila and I certainly have had very high-octane moments in the House Judiciary Committee, and while neither one of us like to give an inch when it comes to effective argumentation, I’ve also found her to be a warm person interpersonally,” the congressman said.
“And you know of people observed me having conversations with [Florida Democratic Rep.] Debbie Wasserman Schultz, former head of the Democratic Party,” he continued. “So, there are moments of bipartisanship and collegiality that occur every day. And the country doesn’t get to see those.”
On the topic of unexpected interactions, the CNN panel also noted a viral exchange between Reps. Paul Gosar (R-Ariz.) and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) where, as previously reported, the pair were “engaged in what appears to be a friendly conversation.”
Though the fate of such an amendment remains to be seen, C-SPAN Co-CEO Susan Swain offered her own input on the matter and issued a letter to McCarthy and the Republican and Democratic leaders in support of such a move and stated, “We do not propose replacing the existing House Recording System or its output. Instead, we request to install a few additional cameras in the House chamber. When mixed with the existing House production, shots from our cameras would allow us to create a second, journalistic product, just as we did last week. Audio would continue to be provided by the House Recording Studio.”
C-SPAN does not control cameras in the House.
READ: C-SPAN letter to Speaker McCarthy requesting our cameras be allowed into the House Chamber. https://t.co/wvf1aHcG3r
— CSPAN (@cspan) January 10, 2023
Swain offered a compromise as well and said, “If ongoing daily coverage of sessions by C-SPAN is not acceptable to the Congress, we request that you at least revisit the rules and permit C-SPAN and other independent journalist to cover key legislative sessions. This process could work quite simply with us and/or other accredited news organizations submitting requests for enhanced coverage to the Radio/TV Gallery, much as we now do with Congressional hearings.”
Well said. What would we think if a so called “third world country” abroad had politicians in control of what the cameras are allowed to show in the public legislature? It’s wrong this has gone on for so long. Let journalism – and CSPAN – have freedom to do their job.
— Hussain (@huspsa) January 10, 2023
I loved your recent coverage! I also think the occasional commentary, explanations and social media summaries were really great! Please keep those components as well. Also, it would be great if you could have a way to alert fans of upcoming votes, etc. so they could tune in.
— Jessica Wellington (@JWellingtonTX) January 10, 2023
Some members may be concerned about the use of the out of context footage in attack ads but there has to be a way to lock that down.
Give the people the cameras back!
— Christian H. Cooper (@christiancooper) January 10, 2023
Thank you for your past coverage!!! I’m hoping in the spirit of Speaker McCarthy’s promises of transparency, he will allow the extra cameras for the People’s House
— Feisty Wench w/ fire in her eyes (@H2Owench) January 10, 2023
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