We want to make it seem like you’re there. If you’re going to listen to someone talk, you’re going to look at the room a little bit, you’re going to look at people sitting next to you — you’re not going to be focused on just one person. So we do multiple cameras; we’ll take cuts of people listening, we’ll show you what the room looks like. We shoot it like it’s live. And when we come back, we have the complete package. We don’t want anyone to say, “What was said here that C-SPAN edited?”
C-SPAN has 45 technicians. The joke is that if there was a channel that showed what we were filming but you heard the conversations that we were having, it’d be the number one hit station. We’re cracking jokes the whole time. Like, “Can you believe he’s using that far of a comb-over?” Or, “Look at this guy; he’s dead asleep.” It’s all over headsets, so it’s just us talking to each other. Sometimes, we’re caught in this horrible position where we set up, and then the witness will pick the wrong seat. So our person on camera is like a little leprechaun sitting on their shoulder, looking right over their face. Usually that becomes a game of, “How hard can we make that person laugh?” Sometimes you see someone on the camera completely turn around, and if you’re just watching, you just kind of see someone standing there. But really, they’re trying to cover their smile and not laugh.
In the hallways outside of the Judiciary Committee on the Senate side, Senator Leahy or Senator Hatch will stop and say hello to us every single time before they go in the room. Or sometimes we do markups of bills that last into the wee hours of the morning, and some congressman will come out and say, “You guys okay?” So it’s like you see the human side of them then. But in the room, I feel like they turn themselves on — where they go, “Okay, now I need to be Senator or Congressman Whatever.” Almost like they’re performing in a sense. And then it’s like you’re not even there.
I get defensive about these guys. My parents are pretty far on their extreme, and they say bad things about someone, and I might be like, “Look, he’s not that bad of a guy.” Not that I know them, but you don’t get to see everything; part of what they’re doing is for the theater, and you have to appreciate that. I’ve been in the room so often, I know when a couple senators from opposite sides are really joking with each other where someone might think it’s a little bit of sniping. Then you see them in the hallway together, walking with their hands on their backs and laughing. That’s the view I see that nobody else does.