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How does C-SPAN deal with calls that are inaccurate or distasteful?

April 1, 2010

While the vast majority of calls are not of this nature, the live, town-hall format of our call-ins can occasionally give rise to calls that contain factual inaccuracies or distasteful language. Fact-checking for live viewer calls is impractical, something of the nature of the beast. Regarding distasteful language: When a caller makes ad hominem attacks or uses indecent language or obviously racist language, program hosts are certainly permitted to step in. Given that this involves quick judgment during a live television production, it’s an imperfect process. The network does not endorse any comments made by our callers, or, for that matter, our guests.

This question and answer is reprinted from C-SPAN Washington Journal Frequently Asked Questions to remind viewers of C-SPAN’s policy on offensive and racist calls which are occasionally heard on our call-in programs. See also C-SPAN co-president Susan Swain’s comments on the April 1 Washington Journal which is also available on YouTube.

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  • My suggestion is to continue the viewers to change speak their mind. However, since we have the 1st Amendment Our speech is protected… However, what I would do is continue to cut them off if they use obscene language. Maybe have a little 10-15 sec window saying that you don’t endorse anything said or something like that. On the factual side… This will be a lot harder… It will be up to the individual being asked the question to point that out. Thank CSPAN

  • That caller was probably a liberal trying to make Republicans look racist. Still, I was really, really, taken aback when the host said, “well, caller we understand your frustration.” I’d like an explanation for that.

  • I believe a polite thank you for your comments may have been more appropriate.

  • I’ve noted that when I turn C-SPAN on in the day time I usually find a a right-leaning program such as the Heritage Foundation. I’m presently watching president Obama at 1:30 a.m., and within the last week or so I also watched the president during a late night airing. I’m concerned about the daytime exposure being given to president Obama and members of his administration. It doesn’t seem to me that the Obama administration is receiving equity in terms of time allocated or equitable prime time viewing.

  • I like Jon Steward’s suggestion, in March 31 the DailyShow, of how C-Span should handle those inappropriate calls.