As Republicans Turn Off House Live Feed, Reps & C-SPAN Turn To Periscope And Facebook Live Video To Cover Sit In
from the we-all-are-the-media dept
So something fascinating happened in Congress today. No matter what your opinion is on gun control or the various legislative proposals around it that have been up for debate in the past week or so, it’s hard to fathom what Congressional Republicans thought they were doing today in shutting off the live video feed from the House floor. A bunch of Democrats decided to hold a sit in on the House floor to push for a vote on some gun legislation. That’s a bit of a stunt no matter how you look at it, but the Republicans shot back by helping that stunt get much more attention by not just gavelling the House out of session, but also turning off the live feed of the House floor that flows to C-SPAN and out to the rest of us. C-SPAN doesn’t control the cameras and is at the whim of Congress to access that feed, so when the GOP shut off the feed, C-SPAN was left without. This isn’t a stupid move that’s limited to the Republican side of Congress, apparently. Eight years ago the Democrats did the same thing when they controlled the House and were upset about Republicans trying to focus on a particular issue.
Of course, we now live in a modern technological age, where everyone has the power to broadcast live video in the devices we all carry in our pockets. Thus, despite House rules that forbid any sort of broadcasting from the floor, Rep. Scott Peters started broadcasting from the floor. And even as the Sergeant at Arms tried to stop the broadcasting, more people on the floor started using Periscope, Snapchat and Facebook Live, leading to C-SPAN rebroadcasting those feeds.
C-SPAN claims it’s the first time it’s done this (and let’s not even bother with the copyright questions related to all of this…). But it seems like yet another example of a form of the Streisand Effect. The sit in was designed to get attention, and it certainly would have no matter what. But shutting off the cameras and trying to shut down the entire process only seemed to drive that much more attention to what was going on, and modern technology helped let the story still come out, no matter what the “House rules” happened to say.