C-Span CEO Brian Lamb told Bill Press on his radio show this morning that C-Span would not be doing anything further to push for coverage of health care negotiations. However, he expressed clear disappointment in the White House's attitude toward transparency in negotiations:
“We are an independent journalistic institution, and the president, when he was a candidate, had no right to assume that we would cover anything. That was the first thing. We were used as kind of a political football during the campaign. We obviously would cover these negotiations. The only time we've been allowed to cover the White House part of it is one hour inside the East Room, which was just a show-horse type of thing…
“The American people pay for all of this that goes on in this town. It's always been my contention…that if we pay for something, and it's the public's business, we ought to be able to see how it's done. It's just that simple, it has nothing to do with this particular fight right now.”
Obama's promise on the openness of health care negotiations from August 2008 was quite clear:
“We'll have the negotiations televised on C-Span, so that people can see who is making arguments on behalf of their constituents and who are making arguments on behalf of the drug companies or the insurance companies.”
Now that the insurance industry and the drug industry are on board with Obama's version of health care reform, and Americans stand to see their insurance premiums increased or even directly taxed by it, it's interesting to see this promise evaporate now.