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Representative CLEVELAND. Do you also understand that this is central to these hearings?
We are not here to complain to you, because you have not covered this event or that Congressman or that person. There was a suggestion reflected in your remarks that there has been some effort to dictate to you.
That is not the issue, the coverage either of events or individuals.
The real thrust of these hearings, and we tried to frame it in that letter which was addressed to you, is how you can help us, and how we can help ourselves restore more confidence in Congress as an institution.
Mr. TAYLOR. I think the problem, Congressman, is that it is a little deceptive to talk about an institution of this kind as if it were a unity, because by its very nature, it is a sum of many, many diverse parts.
One can certainly talk about the generalized function, kind of things the Constitution set up for the Congress to do.
One can talk about the methods of operating of Congressmen, particularly as they try to discern the attitudes of their constituents, things of that kind.
I think that can be done. The very nature of the enterprise, the very nature of the institution, however, is that it is very, very difficult to describe because it is made up of so many forces and so many diverse parts.
This is why we have said, and I think we are attempting to be directly responsive to the purposes of these hearings, that the respect for the Congress, we believe, will increase when in fact that diverse multiplicity is understood.
The Executive is very easy to understand; it is focused on one man.
What now needs to be understood is that a Congress, which has equal vote in the governmental framework, is divided among hundreds of voices. That needs to be conveyed, and no better way can that be conveyed than to let those multiplicity of voices speak directly. Let the multiplicity of voices speak in terms of the normal workings of the Congress.
Representative CLEVELAND. Well, I certainly have to agree that the multiplicity of voices is part of the problem, but nobody can change that. But getting back to Congress as an institution, there are some things that can and should be done.
For example, you may not consider it newsworthy, but I think it is newsworthy that we have more than 17 committees and subcommittees of the House and Senate at work on the problems of energy.
Maybe you need 7, but you do not need 17. I consider that worthy of comment, and if it was commented on, I think it might be helpful.
As you probably know, we have a committee in the House, Mr. Bolling's committee, which is attempting to address this matter of multiple jurisdiction of committees. I still think there is something to be done in this area, without dictating to you. I think there is a misconception, at least, reflected in your remarks as to what we are trying to get at.
It is not how many Congressmen and Senators are put on. It is how much have you told the American people about the institution of Congress. That was more the thrust of our inquiry. I will not belabor the point anymore, Mr. Chairman.
I appreciate the interesting statement, Mr. Taylor, and I thank you for sharing your views with us.
Chairman METCALF. Thank you very much, Congressman Cleveland.
You have clarified some of the purposes of the hearing and some of the objectives that we are trying to achieve.
Mr. Taylor, I had hoped that we could have Senator Fulbright here to testify. But he is holding hearings on very important matters of public interest, and cannot appear.
The Legislative Reorganization Act of 1970 was handled in an unusual fashion. I served with Senator Monroney on a special joint committee for a study of the Congress, and then Senator Monroney did not survive an election. Eventually the House passed a bill along lines of the recommendations of the Joint Study Committee. So when the House-passed bill came over to the Senate, it was not sent to committee, and because I was the only remaining member of Senator Monroney's committee on the majority side, I was given the responsibility of trying to pass a Legislative Reorganization Act without committee support or committee action.
I mention this, because I am familiar with the provisions of that act. We provided that committees in either the House or the Senate could permit television or radio coverage of their hearings. The act states that whenever any hearing conducted by any committee of the Nouse is open to the public, that committee may permit, by majority vote, coverage by radio and television broadcast, and still photography, under such written rules as the committee may adopt, in accordance with the purposes, provisions, and requirements of the clause.
So we have now a provision for opening up congressional committees. What we are concerned about here is provision for opening up and giving you the opportunity to broadcast or to make selective broadcasts of Senate and House sessions.
Several of the Members of Congress who appeared yesterday referred to Speaker Rayburn. Congressman Brooks and I came to Congress at the same time, and we were very close and loyal friends of Speaker Rayburn. We acquiesced in his refusal to let television and radio into the committees, because broadcasting seemed to us to destroy the dignity and the decorum of our proceedings.
I refer to the lights blazing in the eyes of witnesses, microphones and cables, and so forth.
However, we are inquiring today if you do not have equipment that would eliminate that sort of problem, and if we could have broadcast coverage without disturbing committee action and floor action!
Mr. TAYLOR. I think the answer to that, Senator, is unequivocably “Yes."
Technology has come a long way since that time. My colleague, Bill Small, for some years was in charge of our Washington bureau, and he will be discussing that issue in some detail. The nature of lighting, the nature of cameras, the nature of audio pickups is such now that it seems to me that we can give you assurance that such proceedings could be covered and be virtually unobtrusive, without destroying the dignity of the occasion, and the effectiveness of the occasion.
Chairman METCALF. Now, suppose we would make a recommendation and go to the Architect of the Capitol, and suggest that committee rooms, the Senate Chamber, and the House Chamber be rewired
and restructured for special lighting facilities that would not be disturbing to the Members. Would CBS be willing to participate in a pool for the use of such facilities?
Mr. TAYLOR. That of course is one of the possibilities, Senator. I think that one of the best ways, if I might be presumptuous to make recommendations in this area
Chairman METCALF. This is what you are here for.
The technical aspects as to how that would be done, the facilities that ought to be set up, and the provision for the financing of such facilities, and so on, those are the things which really, once the committee has decided this is the direction in which it wishes to proceed, these are things which I think could be worked out very rapidly.
If our colleagues concur, and if it was the sense of this committee and other committees that a pooling arrangement was proper, of course we would be willing to do that, and would be quite agreeable to participate in that kind of thing.
The problem that we are attempting to address ourselves to, which I think needs very considerable thought at the technical level is, yes; let us open the doors. The opening of the doors of the Congress fully is, I think, the best possible way to talk to the American people about the important role of the Congress as an institution.
As to how that ought to be done, whether it ought to be pooling, whether it ought to be rotation, the involvement of the networks, the involvement of the Congress itself, those are things which I think ought to be considered subsequently and perhaps a subcommittee at a technical level can speak to it.
Speaking for CBS, however, I certainly would be willing to participate fully in any joint effort in which it was mutually agreed upon, was a desirable thing to accomplish.
Chairman METCALF. I know you are going to be an advocate for CBS, one network. But don't you think that in broadcasting committee activities of the House and the Senate, and floor activities, if this were permitted, we should require some sort of a pooling arrangement, and not let all of the networks and broadcasters in with different cameras?
Mr. TAYLOR. Yes; it does seem to me that is proper. There is no question that some kind of arrangement would have to be worked out.
My only suggestion that once a decision is made, technical details can be worked out rather rapidly.
It is not clearly in anyone's interest to have a multiplicity of equipment during the more routine matters, although I would make one caveat, sir. That is, it seems to me, there are moments or extraordinary newsworthiness when each of the broadcast news organizations ought to be permitted to have its own equipment and its own cameras, very much like in the coverage of the Watergate hearings.
Chairman METCALF. Or coverage of a state of the Union message?
Mr. TAYLOR. Something of that kind, because it seems to me one of the things we wish to avoid is the homogenization of the approaches of the networks in terms of coverage of these events.
There is something to be said for the differing views of the people in charge, and perhaps the American people are benefited by getting
a different camera shot, a different emphasis on one channel than they had on the other.
Representative GIAIMO. I agree with what you are saying, that you would rather have a diversification rather than depend on a pool at all times. I was going to ask if, can you not do that anyway in the sense of having a pool set up to take the shots, and then you have your own comments added, you have your own commentators interpret and comment as you did do, I think, at times in the Watergate hearings? You sort of answered the question when you mentioned taking a different shot, which would mandate having your own equipment. Mr. TAYLOR. That is the caveat.
I think in most cases, Congressman, you are right, and what needs to be defined and can be defined by people with technical activity is what kind of a pilot light will function, so that a flame can be ignited at times which are appropriate for you and appropriate for us.
I did want to hold out the necessity, however, that there are moments, there are times, when I think it is quite important that the networks each have their own facilities there so that one can get that gradation of approach which seems to me to be one of strength of our present system.
Representative GIALMO. Of course, you are talking about the incidents of great public interest?
Mr. TAYLOR. Yes, sir.
Representative GIAIMO. Actually these hearings are trying to get beyond that, because you already to a great degree have that opportunity now, such as state of the Union or Watergate speeches. Hopefully you will have the opportunity to televise the impeachment proceedings if they are held.
I do not want to prejudge impeachment, but what about the more ordinary, less sensational types of activity in which we are trying to get you involved? Congress perhaps would elevate its own activities in order to comply with the more observing public interest if the American public were made more aware of its workings.
Jr. TAYLOR. Yes, I would think in most cases a pool or rotational arrangement with our own commentators available, our own reporters, would be the way in which the situation would develop.
I would, however, want to hold out that caveat for those circumstances which I described.
Representative Giaimo. Have you given any thought, Mr. Taylor, to the real serious problem which has to confront you at all times; that is, how do you maintain or develop public interest in your programforget the Watergate-type hearing, where there was obviously great public interest, but in our ordinary but important committee hearings which can be rather dull. For example, my Appropriations Committee held very important hearings yesterday, and the day before with Mr. Ash, the head of OMB, and Secretary Shultz on the overall Federal budget.
Those hearings are certainly important, as you know, but they are not the exciting or sensational type of news which holds public interest. I often wonder from your standpoint if you can really justify showing a program that many people are not going to watch.
I am reminded, for example, that in the press, the difference is great in New York City, between the New York Times and New York Daily News.
The New York Times certainly presents more information than the News does, yet I think I am right when I say more New Yorkers buy the Daily News than the New York Times. Is that right?
Mr. Taylor. That is correct.
Representative GIAIMO. And the Daily News does not get into this nonsensational, but important even though it may be a dull and dry type of news activity. Would you not be faced with that problem, and how do you propose to work it out?
Mr. TAYLOR. Yes, sir; that is a very, I think, keen perception on your part.
This is the problem we are faced with virtually all the time. It serves, I think, no good to write a book which very rarely anyone reads.
There is, however, a purpose in that, the purpose of providing an historical record. This is why, as I said in my prepared statement, that to a great extent the coverages of committee hearings will appear in excerpts in the evening and in the morning news. It will give rise to interviews, just as it does now, even though our cameras and our microphones are not in place, but this is an important point.
It does not seem to me that it is in the Congress' interest to have extensive coverages and complete coverage of hearings which, as you indicate, in many respects are routine.
I am not qualified to select those portions of the hearings, which would be of interest to the American people, but the professionals in our organization make these judgments and decisions each and every day, and I have confidence that they are capable of doing so.
I think that completes my answer, Congressman.
Representative BROOKS. I just want to welcome you here, and say that anybody that studied Renaissance history, and was chief of International Paper and now CBS, he has studied a lot of history.
Mr. TAYLOR. Congressman, I saw the light and converted to American history.
Representative BROOKS. I know you did well at it. I scanned through your statement, and heard the last part of it. I think it was helpful, and I would ask you to comment on my feeling that what Congress needs is more individual coverage, and also that gavel-togavel coverage of certain sessions of the Congress, or even of committee hearings, which is basically dull, would be difficult to understand and to explain, you could not make people listen to it.
There are opportunities where individual Members, individual committees take action, which I think are very newsworthy and sometimes it seems there is some difficulty about getting any coverage at all. Some of the editing, the editing process within the television network is, it is just like editing on paper, they take that big pencil, one branch uses a pencil, and the other uses scissors, and they just snip whatever they please. Very often, even when your own people do a good job of