House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) has rejected a request by C-SPAN to use some of its own cameras to cover the historic debate over articles of impeachment against President Donald Trump, meaning that if there are any protests or disruptions they will not make it onto video screens across the nation and world.
Debate on the articles is scheduled for Wednesday (Dec. 18), followed by a vote, though that could be pushed to Thursday depending on the length of debate and if there are any disruptions.
Washington Journal host Greta Brawner said on-air Tuesday (Dec. 17) that C-SPAN had asked to have its own cameras to supplement the video feed that is controlled by the House--which, in turn is currently controlled by Democrats--but that request had been denied.
"The cameras inside the chamber are controlled by the House of Representatives," she explained to viewers. "C-SPAN does not have our own cameras in there. So, what you see is being directed by the House of Representatives." She pointed out that was the commitment C-SPAN made when cable providers created the public affairs network. "We have asked for this important vote and debate that we have our cameras in there, but that was rejected by the Speaker's office and it is the Speaker who gets to decide if other cameras can come in."
David Hawkings, editor-in-chief of The Fulcrom, who was on the show to put the impeachment into historical perspective, pointed out that confining the coverage to the House-controlled cameras meant if there were any "shenanigans or disruptions" in the gallery, which would include protests of the impeachment--for or against--"we probably won't see it on C-SPAN because the cameras don't pan because they don't want to amplify those messages."
Terry Murphy, VP of programming, told Multichannel News he was disappointed with the Speaker's decision. But it was not a big surprise. C-SPAN periodically asks for its own cameras to cover important debates--like healthcare--but has so far been turned down, said Murphy, who added that C-SPAN also asks each new speaker to change the rules to allow cameras that C-SPAN could control, also so far with no luck.
The House does allow for extra cameras for joint sessions--like the State of the Union--and the first day of new sessions, where families populate the chamber.
Below is a copy of the letter from C-SPAN President Susan Swain to Pelosi:
Dear Speaker Pelosi:
"We respectfully request that if the House of Representatives debates Article(s) of Impeachment against President Trump you allow C-SPAN to place our cameras in the House Chamber to cover those proceedings.
C-SPAN, because of our 40 years of experience covering Congress, has served as the television pool for every news organization covering the impeachment inquiry hearings held by the House Judiciary and Intelligence Committees. Through it all, we have provided the American public a comprehensive, unbiased view of these events.
"There are few debates more significant or historic than when the House of Representatives exercises its constitutional role of impeaching a president. It is common practice during the State of the Union address and Joint Meetings of Congress to allow private news media cameras to cover those speeches. The historic nature of the impeachment debate and the intense interest on the part of millions of Americans, and the world, argues for this same approach.
"We hope you will give serious consideration to this request. We commit to working with your staff and the House Radio TV Gallery on the number of cameras and their placement within the chamber. In addition, we'll make our feeds available to all congressionally accredited media organizations. I'd be happy to answer questions you have about our request."