Television reporters were told that while in the Senate hallways they had to stop recording interviews, causing major criticism from journalists, lawmakers and free speech advocates alike.
Journalists say staffers from the Senate Radio and Television Correspondents Gallery told reporters from major networks to stop recording video and blamed the change on the Senate Rules Committee.
The decision was quickly reversed, but many say all it did was raise more concerns about access to politicians in an already hostile climate.
American Civil Liberties Union lawyer Ben Wizner says trying to prevent recording has never been done before.
“Even if some of the violations are of norms rather than rights, the effect is to make the government less transparent at precisely the moment when congressional oversight has been at its weakest.”
Chairman of the executive committee of the Radio and Television Correspondents’ Association Craig Caplan says the attempt was an "effort to limit press access".
“Restricting access in public spaces in the U.S. Capitol and Senate office buildings prevents the American public from hearing directly from their lawmakers...We are in discussions with the Senate Rules Committee to address their concerns and look forward to developing a workable solution that does not curtail our First Amendment rights.”
Gallery officials say the change was meant to halt the chaos of the halls and not to limit access or hinder the media.
“Collectively, the press following Senators have become large and aggressive. We are concerned someone may get hurt.”