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I am not saying you will use it. I am asking, technically, could you ise it? Mr. SMALL. The answer is yes.
Chairman METCALF. Is not that the service you accept from the United Nations, essentially?
Mr. SMALL. Yes; but again in the United Nations, you have standird feed equivalent of what would happen when you meet on the floor of the Chamber.
You do not have television of committee meetings, or other meetings. Chairman METCALF. Very well. Now, Senator Byrd has introduced in the Senate a proposal for losed circuit television coverage of Senate floor activities.
Now, is not that just exactly equivalent to the kind of service that is furnished to you by the United Nations on a paid basis?
Mr. SMALL. Yes.
Chairman METCALF. And if we were able to put in the House and in the Senate a closed-circuit television system, and have a union oporative handling it, would not we be doing just exactly the same thing that they do at the United Nations, if you tapped into that system?
Mr. SMALL. If you are doing it, Senator, for your benefit, and the purposes described by Mr. Cleveland, I would say it is worthwhile.
If you were doing it primarily to service the television networks, I would say it would be a waste of taxpayer money, because we are perfectly willing and capable to do our own coverage and would prefer it.
Chairman METCALF. Mr. Jordan?
Mr. JORDAN. I do not think we speak with one voice on this issue, on this particular question, and I think it is a very important question.
I share the fears that Mr. Small has expressed about such a system.
In other words, about a system that is operated by anyone other than us.
That does not mean that I would not accept it, because I have accepted it at the United Nations, but I do have those fears.
Representative (LEVELAND. Would any others of the panel like to comment ?
Mr. Lynch. I would say simply if that were the decision of the Congress to go that direction, and if it were installed, and that was the only access, I would say yes.
Chairman METCALF. I was just pursuing this because there was a recommendation that we follow the lead of the United Nations, and I did not see any difference between their closed circuit system, which you have accepted and which you pay to use. Mr. Davis. There is a difference between the two.
There is a difference in that the United Nations is not run by the U.S. Government.
It is an international body. If you deal with the press office of the United Nations, you find out that your clout is maybe no more meaningful than the Biafra's so far as getting coverage. In this country you would have a different situation viz-a-viz your labor unions, and so forth, because this is a Government operation.
You do not have the same leverage at the United Nations as you have here.
Chairman METCALF. I think that is a very valid point, Mr. Cleveland.
Representative CLEVELAND. I am not sure if you were here yesterday. But if you were, you know a number of us feel that one of the important aspects of this hearing is for Congress to reform our operations and procedures, so that we improve our performance as a legislative, oversight and factfinding institution. I also believe that some of these reforms, in addition to helping Congress improve itself as an institution, and help it to do a better job, would also make it easier for you people, the news media, to cover the job we are trying to do, and to make us more accessible and comprehensible. So these are just a couple of the proposals floating around, and I would like to get the panel's reaction to them.
One of the suggestions has been that there be a brief period of time it would have to be brief in the House and the Senate-but there would be a brief period of time before voting on a major complex bill in which there would be a set time of 10 or 15 minutes for the opponents and proponents to sum up the arguments on the bill.
Now, I would like to have the reaction of the panel as to that. Would that type of procedure or procedural change in the House assist you in covering us, particularly if you had the cameras available—and even if you did not you could sit in the galleries and take notes.
Could I have reaction of the panel on that type of procedural reform?
Mr. LYNCH. Well, I would say that that type of reform would be useful in some respects.
Of course, there is no, as I am sure you understand, we would reserve the right to cut away or pick up as much or as little
Representative CLEVELAND. We have said a thousand times there is nobody on this committee even dreaming of ordering you what to cover.
Chairman METCALF. We want to give you as many opportunities to cover as much as you can. We feel the Congress has not given you such opportunities, and I think you have made a constructive suggestion.
Mr. LYNCH. I am trying to make the point we assume this reform is not programed for us, but for yourselves.
Representative CLEVELAND. I wonder if it would be helpful to you in covering the procedures of the Senate and the House if a reform, such as this, were implemented.
Mr. LYNCH. I would say yes.
Mr. SMALL. I think if you looked at the history, since television began covering, you would find with each succeeding convention, they have done just this sort of thing, changed their patterns of operation to condense it, and make it more meaningful and move on and been more interesting, and I am sure the same general rules would work well in the Congress.
Representative GIAIMO. Will you yield!
Does that mean we will look at television like they looked at that political convention down in Miami, with those reforms you just mentioned ?
Mr. SMALL. We just covered them, Mr. Giaimo.
If you have 20-hour sessions, we will cover. That does not mean we will be there all the time, but we will cover.
I am not so sure we should be in the business of telling you how to run your sessions.
Representative CLEVELAND. I am repeating for the 10th time, we are not trying to tell you what to cover, and you are telling us you are not going to tell us how to reform our procedure.
I just want your opinion. You have been around here.
Mr. JORDAN. Having made my disclaimer, I would say yes, it would help.
Representative CLEVELAND. How about this matter of overlapping jurisdictions. You have heard me discuss this; there are 17 different committees talking about energy.
You people are interested in energy; everybody is interested in it. Would it help you in covering Congress if we were to structure our committees so we would not have 17 committees on the same subject at the same time?
Mr. JORDAN. Yes, it would.
I have tried to be here for all of the hearings, gentlemen. As you know, the lights go on, and the bells ring, and we live by these lights and bells—and there is a Senate rollcall vote underway on the conference report on water resources.
I am going to have to be excused, and leave you to the tender mercies of Vice Chairman Brooks.
On leaving, I want to emphasize that you have been most helpful as a panel, and I think that we are trying to achieve the same objective: Greater communication, via the medium, between the Congress and the people of the United States. So this is not the end of your participation in the work of the committee in this area.
You represent the radio and television industry. We are going to continue to consult and advise you as we proceed, and to ask for your assistance. You have been very helpful today, and I think the very fact that the questions have been searching indicates our high regard for your experience in directing radio and television coverage in the House and the Senate. So may I express my own personal appreciation to you before leaving, as you know, because I have to go vote.
Thank you so much. Congressman Brooks, you are on your own.
Representative BROOKS. Mr. Cleveland, you have a couple of more questions.
Go right ahead.
Representative CLEVELAND. I am going to skip over questions I had on other congressional reforms that might make it easier for you to report, budget reform, and more systematic scheduling of legislation. I think we just had a good example of the fact you just never know when something is coming up on the floor.
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I am just going to ask you one more question. I would like to ask you, on what basis do you distinguish between the sensational and the significant in reporting congressional news. And if you do distinguish–I hope you do, though maybe that distinction cannot be made-I would like to have your comment on the question.
Is there a basis by which you distinguish between the sensational and the significant, if you do? Again, perhaps the distinction cannot be made.
Could I have your comment ?
I would prefer to say our evaluations, our judgments, our decisions are made on the basis of that which is most interesting, and most significant, and how sensational it is, it is not one of those factors.
I would prefer to say it is significant and interesting to the greatest number of people is my best definition.
Representative CLEVELAND. Thank you.
Mr. JORDAN. It may get on ABC if it is sensational, but if it is on ABC, and it is sensational, it may also be significant.
Sensational by itself is not a factor in our news judgment.
Mr. SMALL. I agree with that. I agree with the statement of my colleagues. Mr. Davis. I concur with Mr. Lynch's definition of it.
I think news is based on priority. What may be significant one day, I may not be significant tomorrow, and it may take a sensational situation one day, rather than a significant one, to get on, because of the relevancy of other stories.
Representative BROOKS. I held some hearings, you can understand my interest in them, and the television media, radio with all of their interest in them, they were just going great guns on the San Clemente and Key Biscayne stories, and that afternoon, the Arabs pulled something off, and you could not find a television camera. They might have been significant one day, but the next day, it was just nothing
The same fact situation, a 2-day hearing, the same facts, same identical press announcement, no difference in the character of it, it was fascinating, but it can sure change.
It is sure true that it can change from day to day.
Representative CLEVELAND. I am glad the vice chairman has called our attention to this situation. He had worked weeks and weeks working up to those hearings.
Representative BROOKS. Months.
I may have been looking forward to it for years. I knew it, but I never could prove it until then.
Mr. SMALL. I wonder, if I may, before we leave Mr. Cleveland, may I comment on a question you raised this morning with our bosses, and not with us, the question of a broadcast, or a series of broadcasts, whatever, to explain the institution of the Congress. And I raise it. As you spoke, I thought of an experience I had 10 years ago. Some years prior to that, CBS had produced a remarkable broadcast, very simple in concept, which was a tour of the White House with Mrs. Kennedy, in which the President played a small role. And that broadcast, I think, remains one of the best explanations of the institution of the Presidency because it was historic and interpretive and not simply a walk through a home.
Ten years ago we decided maybe we ought to do the same thing at the Congress, and do a tour of the Congress with Roger Mudd as our tour guide, and with some Members of Congress. We spent literally hundreds of man-hours in the planning and in the attempts to get the permission to do what seemed to those in New York a very simple thing.
At the White House, all you needed was the permission of one man, the incumbent. But coming to the Congress with the man who had produced that earlier broadcast and several of our executives, we had meetings with the late Senator Dirksen, the late Senator Carl Hayden, Senator Jordan, then chairman of the Rules Committee, with staffs, with the Architect, with all sorts of people, and finally gave up, because to do a television tour of this institution was impossible. There were just too many people. You had to get permission, almost as you walked down the hallway, you walked from somebody's territory into somebody else's, and we could not do it, and abandoned that broadcast.
Representative CLEVELAND. I think that is a very interesting and significant contribution to these hearings.
In other words, there was a situation where you tried to have a commentary on the Congress as an institution, and you ran into so much congressional redtape, you found it difficult to function.
Was that for the whole Congress?
Mr. SMALL. We started on the Senate side and gave up before we ever moved across the street.
Representative BROOKS. You failed there.
I was here this morning, and I listened to Congressman Cleveland's questions of the executives of the networks, and I did have some thoughts as he spoke.
First of all, Westinghouse Broadcasting Co. in 1968 did a 40-part TV series on "The Government Story.”
Most of this was devoted to the Congress and how the Congress works as an institution.
It was done in cooperation with the Congress. It was initiated here by our company, and some wives of the Congressmen including Gerald Ford. But I thought, as a journalist listening to your question, perhaps looking at Congress as an institution, it is an educational question rather than a journalist question, or from the perspective of education, because this is a very tough institution to cover.
I was reminded of a story, of the time that President Kennedy was meeting with David Ben-Gurion, and Kennedy had a particular problem, and he was remarking how wonderful it would be if he were President of only 2 million people instead of 200 million people.
Ben-Gurion remarked that his life was more difficult. “At least you are President of 200-million people. In Israel, I am the President of 2-million presidents.” I think what you have on the Hill are 535 presidents. Each of you have your own feifdom.
Representative CLEVELAND. In the House you have aspiring Senators. In the Senate you have aspiring Presidents. Mr. Davis. It is a serious problem. With the executive branch, we deal with Ron Ziegler, who speaks for the President, and most times for the entire administration.