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Boehner Denies C-SPAN Its Wide Shot

BY Nancy Scola | Friday, February 4 2011

Photo of the House floor as it looked in the early 1900s, via the Architect of the Capitol

As Speaker John Boehner prepared to take office, C-SPAN asked him, as they asked Speakers Pelosi and Gingrich before him, if the network might start capturing wide shots of the House floor and reaction shots of representatives in the crowd by installing, oh, just a few robotic video cameras in the chamber. Getting footage of Rep. Smith's grimace (or, one presumes, images of an empty House chamber on most days) would allow C-SPAN to put together an actual "journalistic product" rather than simply relying on coverage served up to them by the House.

Boehner says no thanks:

Consistent with the precedent set by former Speakers, I believe the American people -- and the dignity and decorum of the United States House of Representatives -- are best served by the current system of televised proceedings provided by the House Recording Studio.

The current practice ensures that every word spoken during legislative debates and every exchange between Members or with the Chair is broadcast live. Lawmakers know that when they step up to speak, the nation is watching. And when citizens tune in (whether online or on cable), they get a front row of their representatives debating and discussing legislative business. This has helped keep the public informed and has ensure an accurate historical record for nearly 30 years.

C-SPAN says they're disappointed. Again.

You'll remember that members of Congress and staff using iPads on the floor has been judged by the new House leadership to be decorum-preserving. Tiny robot cameras and reaction shots? Not so much.