Stevens Complains About CNN Interview

The office of Senator Ted Stevens (R-Alaska) has filed a complaint with the Senate Radio/TV Gallery over what they say was an "ambush" interview by CNN for a story on Anderson Cooper 360 about "Alaskan Pork"  and taxpayers' money going to a "not-so-needy" Alaska.

Stevens, who is overseeing a bill that would boost competition to cable, said he was not aware of the interview and did not approve it, according to Press Secretary Courtney Boone. "Our office feels it was deceptive," she said.

CNN Correspondent Joe Johns conducted the interview Tuesday, which Boone says she believes was taped with a small camera--about the size of a hand-held digital still camera--that they were not even aware of until they saw the interview--on oil revenues to Alaska--on CNN that night. The footage does have a hidden-camera quality to it, darker and from an angle, with Stevens never looking at the camera, but instead at Johns.

CNN spokeswoman Edie Emery said there was no deceipt: "The senator was not ambushed," she said. "He clearly knew he was being interviewed for TV," she said. Coverage rules say that "videotaping and stake-outs inside the Capitol and the Congressional office Buildings require permission and are prohibited in some areas." Boone says the interview occurred at the other end of a hallway from an approved stake-out position for the media before and after weekly policy lunches.

The gallery would not confirm or deny the complaint, or provide any guidance as to its authority should it judge the complaint violated its rules. Boone wasn't sure what the gallery would be able to do, but said they had "turned it over to the appropriate entities."

John Eggerton

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.