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Tipsheet

Is This Why C-SPAN Did Not Broadcast Recent Field Hearing at the Border?

Townhall Media/Julio Rosas

C-SPAN claims its mission is to provide their audience "access to the live gavel-to-gavel proceedings of the U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate, and to other forums where public policy is discussed, debated and decided––all without editing, commentary or analysis and with a balanced presentation of points of view."

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Their commitment to that mission is now in question over the decision to not send a team to broadcast the House Judiciary Committee's recent field hearing in Yuma, Arizona, to discuss the ongoing crisis at the U.S.-Mexico border. Sources on Capitol Hill tell Townhall C-SPAN Congressional Editor Robb Harleston was initially receptive to the idea when they told him about the hearing earlier this month, calling the idea "great."

The next day, Harleston flatly declined to have C-SPAN cover the hearing because, "We're concerned about the absence of [Democrat] members of the hearing."

GOP staff tried to impress upon Harleston the event was an official hearing being put on by the Judiciary Committee on an issue they have jurisdiction over. Harleston continued to cite how Democrats choosing to not attend the hearing meant C-SPAN would not broadcast it, then lastly mentioning they were dealing with a manpower shortage.

"If there's any concrete decisions regarding Democratic involvement, we might reconsider," Harleston told them. "However, while we understand the gravity of this issue, without a balanced member representation it's been decided we're going to pass on coverage. We're also operating under a limited manpower situation, which forces us to make tough coverage decisions."

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House Democrats claimed the reason they were not going to the field hearing was because they were not consulted on it. Their claim was disproven since GOP staffers had been in contact with Democrats about the Yuma hearing for over three weeks. Chairman Jim Jordan (R-OH) publicly invited Democrats to Yuma during the Committee's first hearing about the border crisis.

"C-SPAN bases our daily editorial decisions on a variety of factors, such as interest for a national audience, the witnesses involved, and balance of perspectives over time. This leaves room for coverage of events at which only one party is represented, but the reality of limited resources is that we can't get them all. We have covered many—and will continue to cover many—hearings and other events on immigration, the border, and the fentanyl crisis as our resources allow," Ben O'Connell, C-SPAN's director of editorial operations, said to Townhall in a statement.

Harleston did not respond to multiple requests for comment.

O'Connell noted "C-SPAN Radio aired the Yuma hearing in its entirety last night."

The thin excuse C-SPAN gave was further undercut due to the network broadcasting a field hearing that was put on by then-House Financial Services Committee Chairwoman Maxine Waters (D-CA) in Los Angeles in 2019 when no Republicans were present. Only four Democrats were at the Los Angeles hearing, as opposed to 14 Republicans who were present for the Yuma hearing.

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Another source confirmed to Townhall the issue was brought up to Speaker of the House Kevin McCarthy's (R-CA) office and they made an attempt to get C-SPAN to reconsider. The controversy comes as C-SPAN is lobbying to have their cameras to be on the House floor full-time.

“It’s really disappointing that C-SPAN decided to skip last Thursday’s Judiciary Committee hearing, but had no problem covering Democrat-run hearings in the past. Maybe the Speaker could look at finding an alternative outlet to cover House proceedings, rather than continue to allow C-SPAN to have an editorialized monopoly of House coverage," a GOP source told Townhall.

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