Sunlight Foundation Accuses House Committee of Watching The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air

During Sunlight Live’s coverage of the House Oversight Committee this morning, they caught something unusual that wasn’t spotted on the C-SPAN video feed. Sunlight Developer Luigi Montanez snapped this screenshot of the official video feed, which revealed a little Fresh Prince of Bel-Air” action.

The Sunlight Foundation, a non-profit dedicated to government transparency, quipped on its website today, “All the more reason to tune in to Sunlight Live. Tune in this afternoon at 1:30 for our coverage of the House Oversight Committee hearing on the Consumer Finance Protection Bureau…or perhaps Maury?”

Asked why the Committee would run a picture of Will Smith, Sunlight Communication Manager Liz Bartolomeo remarked, “Who knows? Usually, the live stream just switches to a blank screen or a place card when it ends. But I guess, today, someone must have been bored.” Bartolomeo maintained the shot was definitely from an episode of The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air. “It was on for a good minute before the video feed was stopped,” she said.

But the explanation is not boredom. We called the press office of the House Oversight Committee.  Spokesman Frederick Hill had a perfectly reasonable explanation for what happened and it doesn’t involve an affection for The Fresh Prince: “When we do not discontinue our web broadcast before the House recording studio switches from hearing coverage to normal programing for a given channel, visitors to the website see the regular TV program. Even if we have changed our web broadcast, people still need to hit the refresh button so it may not even be that we were slow in changing it. I think what they saw is the reflection of the House of Representatives system. We don’t get to choose what our background programming is, whether it’s ‘The Fresh Prince’ or a soap opera. If only we could arrange a ‘Law & Order’ episode.”