OP-ED

An Open Letter to Speaker Pelosi from C-SPAN Founder Brian Lamb

BrianLambBy BRIAN LAMB

Dear Speaker Pelosi:

As your respective chambers work to reconcile the differences between the House and Senate health care bills, C-SPAN requests that you open all important negotiations, including any conference committee meetings, to electronic media coverage.

The C-SPAN networks will commit the necessary resources to covering all of these sessions LIVE and in their entirety. We will also, as we willingly do each day, provide C-SPAN’s multi-camera coverage to any interested member of the Capitol Hill broadcast pool.

Since the initial introduction of the America’s Affordable Health Care Act of 2009 in the House and the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act in the Senate

C-SPAN has televised literally hundreds of hours of committee hearings, mark ups and floor debate on these bills for the public to see. And importantly, we have archived all of this video for future generations to study in the C-SPAN Video Archives.

President Obama, Senate and House leaders, many of your rank-and-file members, and the nation’s editorial pages have all talked about the value of transparent discussions on reforming the nation’s health care system. Now that the process moves to the critical stage of reconciliation between the Chambers, we respectfully request that you allow the public full access, through television, to legislation that will affect the lives of every single American.

We hope you will give serious consideration to this request. We are most willing to employ the latest digital technology to make the cameras, lights and microphones as unobtrusive as possible.

Please contact me if I can answer any questions.

Sincerely,

Brian Lamb

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e-Patient DavePaul LevyNateStephen Motew, MD, FACSspike Recent comment authors
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MD as HELL
Guest
MD as HELL

“…can’t even get the care they want.” The care they WANT??!!
They are not entitled to the care they want unless they can pay for it!!
The care they need is quite another question.
Most people do not need the care they want. We should not fund the capricious self-indulgences of the worried well.

e-Patient Dave
Guest

I am no expert on the legislative process but I’m acutely, painfully aware of how dysfunctional today’s system is, how many people can’t even get the care they want, and I’m committed to causing change, after decades of lobbyist-driven resistance have gotten us here. I’m disheartened that so many smart people only want to talk about the political aspects and not focus on whether the job is even getting done: saving lives and getting costs under control. So in this case I support Paul’s point re transparency of process vs transparency of result. On his own blog he put it… Read more »

Paul Levy
Guest

Negotiations like this need to be held in private for effective compromises to be reached. Part of a negotiation is for each party to discuss how they are going to help the other party persuade his/her colleagues to go along with the negotiated agreement. You can’t really talk about such things in public.
The C-SPAN fellow confuses transparency of result with transparency of process. Sometimes, the process needs to be held in confidence to build the kind of trust you need to reach an agreement.

Private citizen
Guest
Private citizen

Doctors and Hospitals keep patient in Dark for the most part. My doctor never tells me the cost of the medications he is writing, the hospital does not tell me how much I can expect to be charged. If I have no insurance and I likely will get a low priced device or no device but if I have insurance then even a twinge of pain ( though I run 3-4 miles per day) will get me all the fancy tests and procedures whether it was required ot not. We get to hear about government interfering with their medical judgement… Read more »

spike
Guest
spike

Dr. Motew, I specifically referenced the point of yours that I anticipated in my last paragraph. Hospitals literally want us to trust them with our lives but they won’t let us see the negotiations over whether the best rubber gloves are worth an extra penny over the ones that are “good enough” or the negotiations over how to handle a high-profile patient injury at their hospital? I’m personally outraged that they wouldn’t broadcast those meetings to the general public. How can I visit their hospital in good conscience? (End Mock Outrage) What’s funny is that you people think politicians are… Read more »

Contrarian
Guest
Contrarian

I can see both sides of the argument for a televised session. Spike makes good points about acting in front of the cameras and others make good points about wanting to see some of the process. I’m sure the reality is that even if we have carefully placed representatives of the process from NPR, Fox News, PBS, NBC, ABC, CBS, MSNBC, BBC, NY Times, Washington Post, Wall Street Journal, Chicago Tribune, LA Times, USA Today, etc. in the room taking notes and drawing pictures similar to a court room, we would only be getting the tip of the iceberg of… Read more »

Nate
Guest
Nate

The public is easily mislead? How about the politicians! I would choose the collective wisdom of the public over the bought and paid for opinion of a politician any day.
These are our lives and this is our money and you want to just trust the outcomes of closed sessions? Our forefathers would roll in their graves if they saw this attitude, this is counter everything they faught and died for.

Stephen Motew, MD, FACS
Guest

Spike,
The flaw in your example regarding transparency with patient care is the fact that as opposed to hospital corporations and insurance companies, congress is elected ‘by the people’ and spends ‘our’ money, and thus should work for us.
While the specific details of the legislation may be outside the realm of public understanding, the influence of special interest lobby and the closed door deal making expose the true motivation for some of the compromises, exactly what Obama campaigned to change.
I think the upside of public transparency far outweighs the negatives.

spike
Guest
spike

I don’t think I’m worried about the gory details, I’m worried that broadcasting the process will necessarily affect the process in ways that negatively affect the final outcome, i.e. the politicians know the cameras are rolling so there are no gory details discussed. Let’s face it, the American people aren’t always very bright. They often don’t know the best way to accomplish something. They are easily misled by good spin on an innocent bad choice of words. We all know this. I’ve got a deal for all the people who think we should see these negotiations. Let’s see all the… Read more »

MD as HELL
Guest
MD as HELL

Go Maggie!!

morello
Guest

Good information to share and it will solve a lot of misconceptions of people.

Maggie
Guest
Maggie

Have you all lost your minds? Behind closed doors, excluding replublicans? Basically Obama has shut anyone who disagrees with him out of the communication – including the American people. Too much info? Gory details? He is a representative, not a dictator and now CSPAN is calling him on the carpet. He lied about making these communications public to get elected and now he hides what he is doing because he cares nothing about what the American people want – his agenda and his ego are too large to be subjected to the will of the people. This is NOT a… Read more »

MD as HELL
Guest
MD as HELL

Whoration of fish is the servant and who is the master? I just saw Shamu and friends today at Sea World. The orcas and their handlers were spectacular. But the spectacle had me wondering why this could even occur. The whales did their thing and were rewarded with a ration of fish. It could only be due to the fact that the whales are in captivity, totally dependant on their handlers for their very lives. Without food given by their handlers they would starve. So they do their tricks to survive. Is that where we are now? Have we placed… Read more »

Don
Guest

Thanks for the posting.
I think that full transparency in matters like this can inundate the public.
I voted to elect people to do certain jobs, and it is up to me as a citizen to write to my congressman or senator. I think sometimes too much information can be harmful.

Margalit Gur-Arie
Guest
Margalit Gur-Arie

Yeah, just broadcast in closed circuit to corporate lobbyists. We don’t need to bother with the gory details of government. It’s not like we have anything to say about legislation any longer.
“They” will let us know when it’s all over. In the mean time let’s eat, drink and be merry…..