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Opinion
Jonathan Bernstein

C-SPAN Won’t Solve Your Democracy Problem, America

Live video of lawmakers chatting on the House floor is interesting to some, but the real work of legislating largely happens elsewhere.

Getting to know our representatives.

Getting to know our representatives.

Photographer: Mandel Ngan/AFP/Getty Images

The one part of Speaker Vote Week that received rave reviews was C-SPAN’s wall-to-wall coverage, with cameras showing live scenes of lawmakers interacting on the House floor. Normally, when the House is in session it controls the cameras that feed into C-SPAN and other news outlets. But without a speaker in place to set House rules, C-SPAN’s cameras were able to roam, capturing all kinds of interesting and entertaining activity.

Things reverted to normal this week, with the House-run cameras firmly fixed on whoever was speaking along with the occasional wide shot of the chamber during votes. But there  is some interest in changing this. Five Democrats have proposed allowing C-SPAN to control its own feed of the House. Florida Republican Representative Matt Gaetz — whose heated argument with Kevin McCarthy and almost-altercation with Alabama Republican Mike Rogers during the speaker vote was captured by the nonprofit cable network — also supports the idea.