C-SPAN Showing Us What We Normally Can't See

Network has been able to capture the goings-on all throughout the House chamber, a rarity
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 6, 2023 9:24 AM CST
C-SPAN Showing Us What We Normally Can't See
Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fla., right, and Rep. Elise Stefanik, R-N.Y., second from right, talk to Rep. Joe Neguse, D-Colo., and Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, D-Fla., after the 11th round of voting for speaker in the House chamber on Thursday.   (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

C-SPAN generally makes for pretty dull viewing, except for the wonkiest of political fans. But the ongoing Kevin McCarthy speakership votes in the House have changed that dramatically, if temporarily. As New York magazine puts it, what viewers are seeing amounts to "C-SPAN gone wild." Or as CNN observes, "C-SPAN is having a moment." For special occasions such as votes like this, the non-profit entity has permission to use multiple cameras to capture what's happening all throughout the chamber—instead of having to rely on a single camera that captures, say, only the podium, per Vice. In most years, not much is going on. Not so in 2023.

“You’re able to see the migrating scrums of congressmen on the House floor as they negotiate with each other," says C-SPAN's Ben O'Connell. "You’re able to see extraordinary conversations," including a lengthy, amicable one between political polar opposites Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Paul Gosar that captured the internet's attention. Viewers also could watch Matt Gaetz cast a vote for former President Trump to be speaker. At other times, the cameras captured the bored children of lawmakers waiting (fruitlessly) for the proceedings to end, along with images of an isolated George Santos, per the Washington Post, which has more examples embedded in its story.

It's all good stuff, relative to the usual static fare. Just don't expect C-SPAN to remain so dynamic. The permission granted for such coverage applies only to events like the (usually ceremonial) speakership vote, joint sessions, the State of the Union, etc. "Once a speaker is confirmed, C-SPAN will go back to its normal procedure," per the Post. The network has been asking for years to be allowed to loosen up on what it can show on a daily basis, but Congress routinely denies such requests. (Read more C-SPAN stories.)

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