Play Live Radio
Next Up:
Available On Air Stations
Watch Live


C-SPAN Uses Social Media Feeds To Cover Gun Control Sit-In

C-SPAN Uses Social Media Feeds To Cover Gun Control Sit-In
C-SPAN Uses Social Media Feeds To Cover Protest GUEST: Rep. Scott Peters, D-San Diego, 52nd congressional district

This escape yes -- KPBS Midday Edition. I Maureen Cavanaugh. Sounds from the sit in on Capitol Hill which just wrapped up about and hour ago. Congressional Democrats step for more than 24 hours to try and force a vote on gun control legislation. Even though the house had formally adjourned for the Fourth of July break. The action ignited Social Media and started demonstrations of support outside of Congress and that is largely because of San Diego Congressman Scott peters five streaming the sit in on periscope. He started using the app after Republican shut down the regular house cameras. Sangria a -- San Diego Carson and Scott peters is with me now and think you for joining us. Thank you for having me Maureen. The idea came from your aides who texted you the idea? It became apparent that the house cameras weren't going to be on and microphones want to be on so we are about to have this conversation that the American public was not going to be able to be a part of and so one of my staffers suggested why don't you download periscope intruded on. And that's what they did. This was the first time you used periscope? First time. About 26 hours since I downloaded it. Was this actually in violation of house rules on electronic devices? It is. And we were engaged in an act of civil disobedience. John Lewis has decided formal civil rights lawyer who is my colleague to sit in on the house floor, and he did that with Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, and he decided to sit down until we get a vote on two very civil things by the way. Background checks closing that loophole so that it covers Internet and gun show sales as well as stores, and make sure that terrorist can buy guns. We can't get a vote on those two things in the house and we are very frustrated after Sandy Hook and Orlando and everything else. And it reached a breaking point. I just decided that I was getting such a response from broadcasting the things that when I shut them down in response to the clerk's request, people said that back on, we were watching. And it became apparent to me that this is really connecting with the United States and the world and I thought it would be better to do it. I did make a deal with myself that when I turned the house cameras back on I would turn the cameras off and as long as they house wasn't going to turn the cameras on which they could easily have done I thought it was important to share with America what was happening. Now C-SPAN Airdrie video life. Did you know that was happening? At one point people came in and said C-SPAN is airing your video. We have a cloakroom with a TV in the back. Sometimes it is on CNN and someone pointed that out to me. Or C-SPAN. And it really grew throughout the day and it had become phenomenal. It was quite historic I think in a way that we could use this technology to connect people to there democracy and they could see up close the frustration that a lot of us share with them about the ineffective Congress. Of the demonstrators going on now? I think so. I think everyone is going to rest up. They were here all night. And it was a pretty nice presence. It felt good for us to know that they had our backs and they were behind us and every once a while we could go out and talk to them and encourage them and thank them. It was a pretty nice experience. I've been speaking with San Diego Congressman Scott peters. Thank you so much for your time. I pleasure, look forward to seeing you in San Diego.

With the cameras it uses to cover Congress shut off, C-SPAN turned to social media feeds to beam live coverage of the House Democrats' sit-in to demand votes on gun control legislation.

"No bills, no break," the Democrats chanted in between a succession of speeches, starting Wednesday morning and continuing overnight.

The nonprofit cable and satellite network C-SPAN and its offshoot covers each session of the House and Senate, using cameras placed in the chambers and controlled by the government. The network is independent, however, and accepts no government money, spokesman Howard Mortman said.


Through those cameras, C-SPAN aired the beginning of the protest with a speech by Rep. John Lewis, D-Ga. When it became clear Democrats were conducting a sit-in, the Republicans in control ordered the House into recess and shut down the network's cameras.

But two protesting representatives, Scott Peters, D-San Diego, and Beto O'Rourke of Texas, provided footage of the sit-in through Periscope and Facebook, and C-SPAN picked up those feeds to offer continuous coverage of the sit-in.

"Our mission is to show what is happening in Congress, and this is part and parcel of what is happening in Congress," Mortman said.

On its YouTube page, C-SPAN made available Lewis' speech before the cameras were shut down. Lewis, a civil rights era veteran, said that "sometimes you have to do something out of the ordinary."

The social media footage was grainier than the typical feed, and the Democrats were working without microphones. But as long as it is available, C-SPAN will air it, Mortman said.


"Our plan is to cover this until they are finished," he said.