C-SPAN Returns To Government Video Feeds After Drama-Filled Speaker Election

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C-SPAN has removed its own cameras from the House chamber after recording days of intrigue as Republicans scrambled to elect a speaker.

The network confirmed it had returned to its relatively banal feed of the House floor that relies on government-operated cameras that are largely stationary. That’s a disappointment for many Americans and journalists after C-SPAN was able to use its own feeds to capture lawmakers during the drama ― including a near-brawl ― in the chamber before Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) was elected speaker last week.

C-SPAN is a nonprofit organization funded by cable and satellite TV networks and is often granted permission during special moments in government — like the speaker elections or the State of the Union address — to use its own cameras. Doing so allows producers to give a broader view of such proceedings, home in on notable people on the floor and get real-time reactions.

“We’re able to tell the story of what’s happening on the House floor,” Ben O’Connell, the director of editorial operations at C-SPAN, told Vice last week. “You’re able to see the migrating scrums of Congressmen on the House floor as they negotiate with each other. You’re able to see extraordinary conversations.”

“You’d never be able to see that with the standard House feed,” he added.

That all took place last week before McCarthy was finally elected speaker after losing 14 rounds of votes.

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) was seen chatting with Rep. Paul Gosar (R-Ariz.), who was punished last year after posting an animated video depicting him as character who kills her on Twitter in 2021. There were tense moments between Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.) and other Republicans after he repeatedly voted against McCarthy alongside other hard-right lawmakers. And C-SPAN cameras captured the chaos as Rep. Mike Rogers (R-Ala.) had to be restrained by another lawmaker who put his hand over Rogers’ mouth as he stormed toward Gaetz after he cast another holdout vote.

C-SPAN has pushed for a broader ability to film inside Congress, which would give it more flexibility than being limited to standard shots of the rostrum. A spokesperson for McCarthy said his office was “exploring a number of options … to ensure a more transparent and accessible” House chamber.

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