Time for C-Span to use a five-second delay?

C-Span founder Brian Lamb said eight years ago that he was considering using a five-second delay for the daily call-in show “Washington Journal” even though he wasn’t thrilled with the idea.

“I’m a purist on the First Amendment,” he told TV writer Gail Shister, “but it’s not fair that people have to listen to young white men calling the network day after day and using four-letter words to get their jollies.”

I guess C-Span never implemented the delay system, because at least three calls this week to “Washington Journal” were about Mitt Romney’s penis size.

On Tuesday, New Hampshire Republican Party chairman Wayne MacDonald was the guest.

Caller: Mr. Chairman, do you believe that Mitt Romney has a big penis?

C-Span host: I apologize, Chairman MacDonald for that comment. We’re trying to keep the conversation productive here this morning.

MacDonald: I wanted to make sure I heard it right.

C-Span host: Your ears did not fail you, unfortunately.

Another caller to “American Journal”:

I’ve been listening to C-Span for several years and probably the last few day have had the highest amount of obscene callers, so I’d like to ask a procedural question: what is C-SPAN doing to crack down on these calls?

“American Journal” host:

Well, whenever we hear something — first of all, we try to admonish — we try to cut them off as best we can …so we just have to do the best we can and hope that we’re getting the best from our callers. That’s pretty much what I can say.


C-SPAN has been televising call-in programs for more than 30 years now. In an average year, we might televise 38,000 calls, the overwhelming majority of which are respectful. Although it is unpleasant to hear the occasional prank caller make it to air, as a few have this week, we have thus far opted not to employ a delay in order to preserve the open nature of our town hall forum. We will continue to monitor the situation.

* C-SPAN getting deluged with prank calls about Mitt Romney’s penis