The Senate hearing with Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh and his accuser, Christine Blasey Ford, got plenty of TV coverage — it was roadblocked across most cable news and network-affiliated TV-station outlets — just not quite as much TV coverage as C-SPAN had wanted.
Viewers may have noticed that shots of Senate Judiciary Committee chairman Charles Grassley (R-Iowa) and ranking member Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) were always slightly side shots rather than full-on faces.
While the Senate Judiciary Committee suggested C-SPAN would have four cameras in the hearing room — the cable-backed public affairs net was providing the TV pool feed for the commercial broadcast and cable networks — that did not prove to be the case.
In providing TV coverage of Hill hearings, C-SPAN usually has three cameras, one on either side to get the Democrats and the Republicans, then one in the front to capture the witnesses. But it sometimes uses a fourth camera in the back of the room to get a wide shot and a straight-on view of the chairman and ranking members, who are in the center. A C-SPAN source said it has used that fourth camera many times.
In an email outlining the video coverage, the committee said:
“The room already has three robocameras built in for the purposes of streaming the hearing online. This feed cannot be used to pool for media outlets. Typically, C-SPAN sets up three cameras in the room to serve as the TV pool feed. … For this hearing, C-SPAN has asked for a fourth camera. That equals seven total video cameras. For context, during the first four days of Judge Kavanaugh’s hearing, the room had a minimum of 28 video cameras in it.”
That clearly sounds to The Wire like someone at the committee thought C-SPAN would be granted that camera, since it used the seven-camera figure for comparison purposes.
C-SPAN confirmed it asked for that fourth camera to get the straight-on wide shot, but said that request was denied, with no reason given. The C-SPAN source said it could have been space limitations.
A Senate Judiciary Committee spokesperson had not returned a request for comment at press time about the missing camera and the reason why it was denied.