C-SPAN is an independent entity, or so they thought before John Boehner’s office took control over their programming.
Speaker John Boehner doesn’t want you to see what went down today in a pro-forma session of the House as he and his fellow Republicans ran away from their responsibility to the people, ignoring Rep. Stenny Hoyer (D-MD)’s calls to put the Senate passed payroll tax holiday extension up for a vote. He didn’t want you to see this so badly that he commandeered the congressional cameras to stop the live feed from the House floor.
As C-SPAN’s Brian Lamb pointed out to Reason magazine in speaking about government transparency, “The big threat is that they will run the cameras themselves, that they’ll decide what shots they get. Journalism will be diminished even further by that.”
Here’s the footage of Hoyer calling them out as they run away after Rep. Michael Fitzpatrick (R-PA) (acting as speaker of the pro-forma session) hurriedly adjourned the meeting:
Then the live feed cut off and suddenly we were dumped on an exterior still shot of the capitol. Sorta makes you feel all Scott Walker inside.
Stephen Webster at Raw Story broke it down:
“As you walk off the floor, Mr. Speaker, you’re walking away, just as so many Republicans have walked away from taxpayers, the unemployed, and very frankly, as well, from those who will be seeking medical assistance from their doctors, 48 million senior citizens,” Hoyer can be heard saying.
“We regret, Mr. Speaker, that you have walked off the platform without addressing the issue of critical importance to this country, and that is the continuation of the middle class tax cut, the continuation of unemployment benefits for those at risk of losing them, and a continuation of the access to doctors for all those 48 million seniors who rely on them daily for help.”
C-SPAN tweeted and explained: “C-SPAN has no control over the U.S. House TV cameras – the Speaker of the House does.”
Way back in November of last year, The Hill reported on Boehner’s refusal to allow C-SPAN to put their own cameras in the House, “We’re disappointed to learn that despite 32 years of experience with televising its sessions and in an age of ubiquitous cameras in political life, the House of Representatives has chosen not to allow C-SPAN’s cameras into its chamber to cover its sessions,” network CEO Brian Lamb said in a statement. “We continue to feel that the public is best served by seeing a more complete picture of the legislative process than what’s delivered by Congressionally-controlled cameras and will continue to work with Speaker Boehner and other leaders in the House in hope of one day gaining access on behalf of the media.”
The Speaker did allow more access to media in other ways, he just insisted on keeping control of the congressional cameras. But given Mr. Boehner’s constant nattering on about transparency during his Tea Party days, his refusal to allow C-SPAN to install their own cameras is a reversal. But lest you think it’s just Boehner, former Speaker Pelosi also refused to grant more access to C-SPAN.
However, Pelosi never cut their feed as she ran away from her job. And Pelosi did grant additional coverage of the healthcare debates, as requested by C-SPAN.
You have to love transparency under Republicans. First, they refuse to even put up the payroll tax cut extension for a vote, and then when Rep. Stenny Hoyer is calling them out for running away, abandoning their responsibility to the country, in order to avoid YOU hearing what Hoyer had to say, Boehner’s office took control of the congressional floor cameras and cut them off.
The entire point of C-SPAN’s access to the live feed is so that the American people can see for themselves what is going on. Speaker Boehner took it upon himself to decide what shots C-SPAN would get today and that flies in the face of the entire purpose of C-SPAN.
Shame on Speaker Boehner for an absolute failure of a day.