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Hodding Carter III talks about television's role in government

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Some Washington observers believe that there will be wildly eccentric changes in the deportment of Congress when the Senate begins televising its proceedings on a trial basis, June 1. Not Hodding Carter III, host of ``Capitol Journal,'' a weekly review of Congress which airs on about 145 PBS stations. ``Major figures in the Senate are already blow-drying their hair,'' he tells the Monitor. ``They live in a television world right now, rushing out to talk to the cameras right after a vote. Almost all senators have already become television human beings; so televising Senate proceedings won't change anything.

``Oh, there may be one or two congressmen who will start talking in shorter verse, but there are only a handful of senators left who treat the Senate as a place for extended debate anyway. Certainly the television coverage of the House has not affected the procedural rules, and I don't think it is going to affect very much in the Senate either.''

In a wide-ranging interview here in New York, where he has come to celebrate the first anniversary of his television show and to look for underwriters for a second year, Mr. Carter talks about his former job as State Department spokeman during the Carter administration, the benefits and hazards of moving between government and journalism, the popular images of Congress, and the caliber of people he has encountered there.

When asked if the televising of Senate sessions might not affect such traditional procedures as the filibuster, which might be too slow for television, Carter says, ``The filibuster is not going to die as long as there are minorities in the Senate who feel it is the one way they can get hold of, obstruct, or alter the course of legislation.


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