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The Congress has no separate single spokesman. It is difficult to cover you without talking to each of you individually, even within your own parties, even among liberals and conservatives.
Representative CLEVELAND. This point is well taken; it was well made this morning, a multiplicity problem, and maybe there is no way to improve the image of Congress as an institution, as distinguished from the individual Members of it.
I have not quite given up on the problem yet, but I recognize the multiplicity problem and there is no question, we are 535 highly individualistic people but there are still some functions of this body—and whether it is educational or journalistic, I am not sure—that I do not think have been made as clear as they should to the American people, and I think that is one of the reasons why Congress now, at least, according to Mr. Harris, is at the bottom of the totem pole.
I yield to Mr. Giaimo.
Representative GIAIMO. Mr. Davis, I think you raised a good point when you said it is not easy to cover Congress like it is to cover the Executive, because you are dealing with 1 man as opposed to 535. I would like to ask you, gentlemen, how do we do it? What are your thoughts?
You do want to and I hope it is not to help us get coverage. In these days, not many people in Congress are looking for coverage.
Representative BROOKS. For cover. Representative Giaimo. Yes, looking for cover. How do you to some degree educate, by informing the American people of this unique institution which because of its numbers and its differences of opinion, seems so disorderly?
I think it is very necessary, and I think that is why we are here talking about it. We recognize that we have got to communicate better, about our function, and our mission. Hopefully by communication it will make us a more effective and efficient body.
You were speaking of sensational news coverage and significant news coverage.
If we were to remove all of the prohibitions and allow you to set up your cameras in committee rooms and in the Chambers, do you foresee total coverage of a debate other than, say, an impeachment trial or something of that import? Mr. JORDAN. You mean total on the floor, sir? Representative GIAIMO. Yes. Mr. JORDAN. By my network, no. Representative GIAIMO. Do any of you?
I frankly cannot imagine any, unless it was something of such earthshattering importance that you would want to hear every word of it.
Now, what would you be doing then, how would you go about it?
Would you be selecting what you considered important committee hearings, would you be covering those in total, would you be jumping in and out?
I just want to know how you would be walking through the halls deciding how you were going to cover.
Mr. LYNCH. I would think you would be selective through the committee process and through the floor debate in terms of several different formats, if you will, for the evening news, every night, for possible
live programing of certain segments of it, for possible inclusion in special programs, for possibly building a documentary around.
If we had that access, all of those things would be possible.
Representative GIAIMO. And that would be better than what you have now, where you will stand outside the committee room with the camera set up, and the moment whoever has testified comes out you nail him out there. You are not really getting what he said in the committee room. Is not that right?
Mr. Lynch. That is correct. -
Mr. SMALL. That and of course floor debate, which we do not get at all now.
Representative GIAIMO. What thoughts do you have for explaining to the American people all of the things that go on in Congress?
What I had in mind is this. One of the things that shocks many of my constituents when I bring them up to the galleries is to see a handful of people in the Chamber debating a major piece of legislation.
Now, as you know, most of the major debating on legislation is conducted by the members of the committee involved.
Many of the people do not know this, and some of them assume that all of the other Congressmen are not working.
As a matter of fact, as you know, we have been in session now since the 21st of January, and there has been very little floor activity. At the same time, we have had all of these major crises coming down upon us, and the word is out Congress is not doing anything; therefore, that means to the public that Congress is not working.
I am getting letters from people asking why we are not working.
I wonder what the answer is. All I know is that I start out early in the morning; I am in my office until 7 at night, and I am working both in committee and my office. Yet I know we are not working as an institution and the public does not know this difference. They do not know, for example, that if we take up the energy bill on the floor of the House next Tuesday, I will be downstairs in committee hearings listening to Secretary Schlesinger presenting the budget of the Armed Forces. I will not be on the floor of the House.
Is this educational process contemplated by the media, and if so, now?
Mr. LYNCH. I think exposure.
Representative GIAIMO. The exposure will be an empty Chamber in many instances. Mr. LYNCH. Exposure and continued access makes that point.
In terms of what you are saying, I would think one of the side benefits of Watergate, is that the American people saw how much work was done in committee, and how frequently their presence was required on the floor.
That was made apparent as far as our reporting.
The American people only learned that in Watergate because you literally covered those hearings from gavel to gavel.
If you had not, it would not have been newsworthy, I am guessing. Mr. LYNCH. I agree. but I think continued access
Representative GIAIMO. You would not have shown the Senators leaving to go answer a quorum call.
As a matter of fact, it was a derivative benefit when they did go answer those calls, you were interviewing Members in the hallway on their way back and forth, as you will recall.
Mr. Lynch. I submit this is a part of the way the institution works. Representative GIAIMO. I am saying you were able to educate, in that case, because you did have gavel-to-gavel coverage.
You are not going to have that normally, nor am I suggesting that you should.
Mr. Lynch. No; we would not, but in terms of carrying a picture of the floor in which there were only a few people present, in the first place, we might not even be there if that were true, but certainly, I think, the time has passed when we would have reporters who would not point that out—that Members were attending to other duties.
Our reporters cover the Hill all the time, and they know the process so well that I cannot believe that attention would not be called to that fact that other things are going on.
; Mr. Davis. As a Group broadcaster, we have two obligations in our bureau. That is, we cover not only the national news that affects the whole country, but we cover delegations of our Congressmen from our various station areas. So we do an awful lot of work in the hearing rooms and what they're doing in hearing rooms to bring legislation out to the floor.
When they follow the hearings, the people must know that those hearings are made up of Congressmen who must propose these bills and work on them and add amendments. And you have had a lot of coverage on major legislation. On war powers for example, Cambodian debates, the confirmation hearings. I think they know these hearings are made up of Members of Congress.
Representative BROOKS. Mr. Dellenback.
There is clearly a series of aspects of what is involved in the major networks, as I see it.
Part of what we were dealing with this morning was the public service side, when we talk about some of these educational programs, and now you gentlemen are all extremely experienced on the Hill, and some of these questions we have been dealing with most recently,
in your capacities as news bureau chiefs, and I see a difference in those two aspects of what a network does, with the exception of Mr. Small, and I do not know if your duties will now be confined to just the news. Mr. SMALL. Yes, just to news.
Representative DELLENBACK. News on another level, so it is still basically news, so it seems to me from the standpoint of the Congress and the relationship to the networks, the relationship is different.
With the news, I think we are neither in a position constitutionally, nor should we be in position where we are trying to do very much controlling of what you do.
The system is one of the free press, one of the news media situation where you all have to control it, but to interfere with the proper function of the Congress, I do not think we should be telling you,
and that was made as a point by the gentleman from New Hampshire with which I believe we are all in agreement. Along the line of the news aspect, with the understanding that the freedom is basically yours, what do we do from the congressional standpoint to cooperate so that it makes it possible for you to do a better job; how do we work together to make it possible.
May I ask several questions. Now, No. 1, on our House side, our House committees, some, more than others, are generally open, or at least potentially open.
Have you often been refused, since the House rules have been changed in this regard, the right to cover House committee proceedings?
Mr. Jordan, do you want to lead off ?
Representative DELLENBACK. Does it vary from committee to committee, or does it vary from time to time?
Mr. JORDAN. It tends to vary from committee to committee.
I could not go into any more detail today, but in general, I would say it tends to vary from committee to committee rather than from time to time.
Representative DELLENBACK. One of my committees is the Education and Labor Committee, which has long prided itself on being open, including markup sessions. The Interior Committee, on which I also served, has recently made some steps in this direction.
I would be interested, do any of you recall either of those committees refusing requests for openness or coverage ?
Mr. Small, Mr. Lynch, Mr. Davis ?
Mr. JORDAN. I do not think we do recall, Mr. Dellenback, but I would not want to let this occasion go by without saying something that I know the three networks feel strongly about, that is the situation in the House as far as access is just so much better now than it was 2 years ago, just so much better.
Representative DELLENBACK. And it took some prying, and some of those on this particular committee have been among those who have been pushing for this.
I think everyone of us who is here now has been playing an important role in trying to open up Congress.
We worked to try to make open hearings a part of the process. Representative BROOKS. Mr. Dellenback, would you yield ? Mr. Jordan, would you be kind enough to furnish the committee with your statistics on refusal to televise hearings in the House and Senate, the Senate on one side, and the House on the other, and then I would like to furnish the committee with the House rules on that, which provide for votes in open committee to close a hearing, and see how those jibe with your figures, and whether they are current.
I think that would be interesting. I do not fully agree with that. I am surprised at your answer.
Can you furnish that information ?
Representative BROOKS. And I understand you are often refused opportunity to go to hearings.
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Mr. SMALL. Two of the most important committees, the House Ways and Means and the House Armed Services Committee, almost never permit television to cover their hearings.
Representative DELLENBACK. If I may amplify on the chairman's position in that regard, it would be very helpful to us, and we say it from the standpoint of frankly being interested in opening it up still further, and from the standpoint of your networks, you can give us some specifics on this. It is not in the sense of putting you on the line we ask you, but rather in the sense we would like to be able to follow it down. Mr. JORDAN. Yes, sir.
I think I understand what you want both from the House side and the Senate side, and we will furnish that information.
Representative GIAIMO. Will you yield, Mr. Dellenback, on that point ?
I just want to make the record a little clearer. Although we have made some progress on the House side, we really have not made as much as we should.
You mentioned two committees. The Appropriations Committee, to my recollection, has not had any except the original overall budget hearings televised, and some committee hearings. Is not that correct ! There have been no open meetings of the full committee to my
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Have you been able to televise any of the committee meetings of Appropriations?
I do not want you to answer that unless you are positive. You can furnish it for the record, but my impression is that the meetings are not televised.
They could be, I suppose, but the important thing I would like to raise is that although hearings may be televised, the real important meetings, and I will use my committee, the Appropriations Committee, the markup sessions are closed to everyone, in every single instance. Don't you think those should be opened ?
Mr. LYNCH. Yes, indeed, and it was encouraging to see it in the report that was prepared by Mr. Stewart.
Representative DELLENBACK. Mr. Chairman, I recognize we now have a vote on the House side, and we have a long trip to make.
There are other questions that quite frankly I hope to ask, but I find the 5-minute rule is not applied quite so readily on this side of the Hill as it is over on the House side, and so my list has been growing longer and longer as I sat and listened to my learned colleague.
May we ask this, if the witnesses are willing to do this, I seek this not for the sake of doing anything other than gaining information, I have a series of questions I would like to reduce to writing. If I prepare those, and through staff, submit them to the networks, would the witnesses be willing to give us the benefit of their thinking on these matters?
Mr. JORDAN. Yes.
Representative BROOKS. That will be done then, and I think the staff may have a few questions.