If Democratic leaders truly want to put some nip into the new Congress, they should finally free up television coverage of floor debates so citizens can see the unvarnished state of the people’s forum. Current TV restrictions allow only static head-on shots of whoever has the floor, lending chamber proceedings all the excitement of a postage stamp.
The cameras should be liberated to pan the floor and look for reaction shots. Who but working
politicians would suspect there’s a risk to showing real life? C-Span watchers were deprived of a much needed touch of humanity during President Clinton’s impeachment trial when one weary senator listened to the interminable proceeding with his shoes off.
The speaker’s office has been wary of allowing free-ranging cameras since coverage was permitted 28 years ago. Visitors to the chamber galleries can plainly see scenes denied to TV watchers — sideline wheeling and dealing; the representative more interested in the newspaper than the debate; the senator nodding off, understandably perhaps; and the near-empty chamber surrounding the orator speaking for the stationary camera.
Politicians should be the first to realize the possibilities of open viewing. There’s no shortage of them working the camera angles during the president’s annual State of the Union address, that rare night of free-rein TV. Imagine if there had been a roving camera eye at the debate over Medicare drug subsidies three years ago when the Republican leader, Tom DeLay, kept the vote open beyond the time limit. All C-Span viewers could see was the droning scene of time being killed. What was really happening was Mr. DeLay roaming the floor and arm-twisting members to vote for passage.
That’s the reality of politics. Americans should be allowed to see it on TV. - Ref. : The New York Times