House

A silver lining for House Speaker election: Freedom for C-SPAN

House members call for a roll call vote to adjourn
Greg Nash
House members call for a roll call vote to adjourn on the second day of the 118th session of Congress on Wednesday, January 4, 2023.

The failure to elect a Speaker so far in the House has one silver lining, at least for TV viewers.

C-SPAN, the public service network that televises congressional proceedings and other matters, has full freedom to focus on whatever its camera operators find interesting — for the moment.

Under normal circumstances, the majority party imposes strictures on the kind of shots that can be filmed. The limits have held during periods of both Republican and Democratic control.

But on Tuesday and Wednesday, with everything in flux, C-SPAN camera operators have been able to pick up far more interesting details. Viewers have seen ideological opposites Reps. Paul Gosar (R-Ariz) and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) in conversation Tuesday, and anti-McCarthy hardliner Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.) in a series of animated exchanges Wednesday.

Explaining the situation online, CSPAN Capitol Hill producer Craig Caplan tweeted Wednesday:

“C-SPAN was given permission to be in the House chamber for opening day of 118th Congress including the Speaker election last yr by Speaker Pelosi. Our live coverage resumes today with our own cameras until members are sworn in & then continues through the gov’t-controlled cameras.” 

The new — and presumably temporary — freedom has been greeted with enthusiasm by CNN’s Jake Tapper on-air and by a number of other journalists and politics-watchers on Twitter:

“The added camera angles allowed on C-SPAN due to lack of House rules were great,” tweeted Erik Wasson, Congressional reporter for Bloomberg. “Lawmakers would be wise to allow them permanently if they want better ratings.”

“It is such a shame that [C-SPAN] does not ALWAYS control the cameras in the House chamber. Such an important and revealing POV,” Politico reporter Anthony Adragna tweeted.

Tags C-SPAN House Democrats House Republicans House Speaker vote Kevin McCarthy Matt Gaetz
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