GOP Senator Moves To Bar Reporters From Filming Interviews In Capitol

While reporters were told to stop filming, rules haven't been officially changed, creating a state of confusion among both senators and journalists in Washington, D.C.

It looks as if lawmakers in Washington, D.C. aren't too concerned with being transparent to the American people.

According to NBC News Capitol Hill correspondent Kasie Hunt, reporters have been told they may not film interviews with senators in the hallway unless they are able to first obtain permission from the senator and the Senate Rules Committee's chief counsel.

On Tuesday, the journalist told her Twitter followers that reporters who were waiting in the hallway were told to stop filming after being notified about the rule change. But moments after the change was first reported, several Democratic and Republican senators criticized the move, with some taking to Twitter to complain about the change, demonizing the Senate Rules Committee for reportedly revising how it enforces Senate's rules on press access.

The Hill has reported that up until today, the Radio and TV Gallery website stated that “videotaping and audio recording are permitted in the public areas of the House and Senate office buildings.” The alleged change represents a serious break from precedent that may not be seen as a procedurally sound one as it was implemented unilaterally by Senate Rules Committee Chairman Richard Shelby, a Republican.

After media reported on the change, Sen. Amy Klobuchar, the ranking Democrat on the committee, said she hadn't been consulted prior to this change. Later, however, she said Shelby had talked to her and that he “would never move forward on some major change without consulting with me. He said it was an inquiry and that we would talk about it. So he seemed to imply that they weren't going to change the policy."

This statement may appear conflicting with the reports coming from actual reporters in the Capitol, who are saying that they have been blocked from filming.

According to Shelby's statement on this issue, “no additional restrictions have been put in place by the Rules Committee.” Instead, he said, the committee has been “working with the various galleries to ensure compliance with existing rules.”

The odd move to keep reporters from filming interviews with senators follows the increased interest the public has shown toward lawmakers. As Americans demand greater coverage, especially as legislators are criticized for not holding public hearings concerning the Republican-led effort to repeal Obamacare, reporters have been crowding Capitol hallways like never before. Now, some lawmakers appear bent on restricting journalists' access.

While it appears that journalists have yet to regain confidence that the Senate Rules Committee isn't willing to actually embrace any official rule changes, the conclusion to this story is still up in the air. Regardless, it sure does look like some lawmakers have either a lot to hide or are simply not willing to offer any transparency to their constituents. 

Banner/thumbnail credit: Reuters 

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