In a minor story this week, Speaker John Boehner rejected CSPAN’s request to install robotic cameras in the House of Representatives. In doing so, Boehner follows in the footsteps of previous Speakers – and makes the right decision.
CSPAN wanted the cameras to spice up their coverage of the US House – capturing wide shots of the arena and getting reaction shots from Members of Congress who aren’t speaking at a certain time.
If you want an example of what such a broadcast might look like, the Super Bowl kicks off in a few hours. If Aaron Rodgers or Ben Roethlisberger throws an interception, Fox’s cameras will capture them on the sideline, shaking their heads or talking to coaches. If a kicker – whatever their names are – misses a field goal, you’ll see the typical lingering shot of them staring at the goalposts and shaking their heads, followed (or preceded) by a shot of the coach looking at the kick, preparing to raise his arms before dejectedly slumping his shoulders. When a defensive player blows a coverage, you’ll see his coach glaring at him from the sideline.
Fox isn’t just broadcasting the game, they are telling a story. It’s one reason why sports is interesting to watch, and CSPAN wants to do the same.
But if CSPAN is telling a story about Congressional debate, who gets to write it? And why stop at jumping around during floor debates? Why not give individual Representative theme music and bring in Jim Ross and Jerry “The King” Lawler to add commentary, WWE style?
The extra cameras that Boehner rejected would have allowed CSPAN to create their own filter of the coverage, instead of simply showing the debate. Yes, it’s dull, but CSPAN isn’t supposed to be engaging all the time – it’s supposed to be a stream of raw information.