C-SPAN CEO: Network used as 'political football' in 2008

C-SPAN CEO Brian Lamb on Thursday lamented his network became somewhat of a "political football" during the 2008 presidential campaign.

When asked whether President Barack Obama broke his 2008 promise to televise healthcare negotiations, Lamb told the Bill Press Show that Obama, then a candidate, "had no right to assume that we would cover anything."

ADVERTISEMENT
While the C-SPAN CEO later admitted his network "obviously would cover [the] negotiations," he stressed he helmed an "independent journalistic institution" that made its own editorial decisions, irrespective of the president's campaign pledges. 

"The only time we've been allowed to cover the White House part of it is one hour inside the East Room, which was just a show-horse type of thing," he later added.

The typically detached C-SPAN has been at the center of a brewing political debate since its CEO asked lawmakers earlier this week to televise their healthcare discussions. Initially, Democratic lawmakers hoped to keep cameras out of their informal negotiations, in part to speed up the process of combining the House and Senate's healthcare bills.

But Republicans quickly morphed Lamb's request into a heightened political offensive. GOPers have pined throughout the healthcare debate for Democrats to halt their "behind closed doors" healthcare meetings, and they cited Lamb's comments on Wednesday as evidence their criticisms were actually shared by many.

However, Lamb on Thursday stressed it "wasn't his intention" to take sides in the healthcare showdown.

"The American people pay for all that goes on in this town," he said during the interview. "If we pay for something, and it's the public's business, we ought to be able to see how it's done."

Lamb later added, however: "I don't have any great expectations; we're not doing anything more on this."