02/04/2011 03:58 pm ET Updated May 25, 2011

John Boehner Rejects C-Span Offer To Increase Transparency

Back when House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) was upset about Americans getting affordable health care, he would often bitterly complain about the lack of transparency in the process. "Don't let Democrats in Washington take this debate away from you. Don't let them make this about arm-twisting and backroom deals," he would say. And let's face it, arm-twisting and backroom deals are a big part of how your legislative sausage gets made. So, in November, C-Span sent Boehner a letter in which they offered to move forward with an improvement in that arena:

In January, you sent C-SPAN a letter supporting our request for televised access to the health care negotiations, in which you wrote, "Every issue of national import should be debated by the people's elected representatives in full public view." You further wrote, "Republicans have listened to the American people and are committed to making Congress more accountable to the people it serves."

Currently, House floor debates are not in full public view because private news media cameras are still not permitted in the House chamber. Rules established when the House installed its TV cameras in 1979 restrict congressional camera operators to head-on shots or shots of the chamber, leaving viewers with a less-than-complete view of your debates.

In this spirit we are writing to renew a request we made to Speakers Gingrich and Pelosi as they assumed office -- to allow House floor proceedings to also be covered by C-SPAN cameras.

Boehner's office was said at the time to be reviewing the network's request. And today, they have apparently completed mulling it over. The result? Request denied! Per Michael O'Brien, at The Hill:

C-SPAN said it was "disappointed" in a decision by Boehner this week to maintain the status quo in the House, meaning that broadcasts from the House are restricted and under the control of the Speaker.

Boehner wrote C-SPAN on Thursday to say he believes the House is "best served by the current system of televised proceedings provided by the House Recording Studio."

O'Brien reports that C-Span CEO Brian Lamb is "disappointed" by the decision: ""We continue to feel that the public is best served by seeing a more complete picture of the legislative process." There are probably some lingering reasons why Boehner is averse to offering that complete picture.

That said, we're disappointed too, if only because the minute your congresscritters know that they have cameras to play to, the legislative process tends to become terrible performance art.

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