CNN Wants To Hold Your Handheld

CNN’s Joe Johns got to review–and possibly revise–the letter by the congressional Radio/TV gallery absolving him of any wrongdoing in handheld-gate, The Hill reports today.

Jackie Kucinich writes, “Reporter Joe Johns, [his] lawyers and producer Ted Barrett were given the chance to make changes to the letter delivered to Sen. Ted Stevens (R-Alaska) yesterday, according to the sources.”

Though Radio-Television Correspondents Association chairman Brian Wilson says he “alone wrote the final version” of the letter, The Hill compares an earlier draft of the letter and notes that the final version removes an assurance from RTCA to Stevens that “Mr. Johns will be reaching out to you and your office in a personal way to offer expressions of regret about this matter.”

The b.g. nut on the unfolding flap, succinctly summarized by Kucinich (so we don’t have to): “On May 9, Johns interviewed Stevens in the Ohio Clock corridor near the Senate floor for CNN’s ‘Anderson Cooper 360.’ The video … showed Johns interviewing Stevens–who was obscured by a crowd of people in the shot. The shot was taken from the approved camera, which is set up in the stakeout area outside the Senate chamber and allowed during Senate luncheons. The shot then switches to a grainier, lower-quality image, where Stevens can be seen explaining Alaska’s financial situation. Johns’s producer, Steve Turnham, shot the scene.”

Stevens claims he was “ambushed” by Turnham’s use of a small handheld video camera. The print gallery has sided with Stevens against the use of such cameras, citing dubious concerns about eavesdropping colleagues. The controversy comes as broadcasters are campaigning for greater camera access in the Capitol.