Sunday, September 21, 2014

"C-Span; Its Strange Birth and Great Worth"

Despite all the problems our nation faces, there are still pockets of excellence in all areas of American life.  When you buy a Frito-Lay product you're going to be assured of product freshness because of the company's manic emphasis on shelf change-over.  If you've ever shopped in Nordstroms you know that Nordstroms will go to any length to satisfy their customers and preserve their pristine reputation for doing so.  No detail has been spared in the presentation of classic movies on Turner Classic Network; they air no commercials, their hosts offer smart, insightful introductions to movies presented; just first class all the way.

However, I believe C-Span is the most amazing example of corporate excellence we have ever seen.  All of the above cited instances are all fed by the ultimate drive for profits.   By contrast, C-Span is driven by only one overriding motive; provide totally neutral, unbiased coverage of our nation's activities and political developments.  

Founded in the 70's by Brian Lamb, a former cable publication executive, C-Span is sponsored by contributions from all of the cable television networks.  C-Span first started as a public service to televise congressional sessions so that we might really see "how the sausage was made".  Unfortunately, our wily legislators have found ways to take the more shady aspects of sausage making to the back rooms so that we are often seeing some public grandstanding and, even for me, some really boring committee sessions.

Were this C-Span's only effort I would not be trumpeting their worth.  C-Span has developed into much more.  C-Span is now a multiple channel network providing interviews with historical figures, authors, coverage of important national events, their morning interviews with people making the news (and the "sausage") and allow voter call-ins so that any average American citizen has the opportunity to provide their own opinion about a particular matter and ask direct, un-filtered questions of the guest. 

Nearly 12 percent of Americans now watch C-Span on a regular basis.  It is an oasis from the bias one sees every day on the commercial news networks.  I don't know how Brian Lamb does it but he must have one hell of a "orientation training seminar" for C-Span's hosts.  Lamb insists that no host ever reveals his own political leanings.  I really admire this.  Like the skeptic I am,  I tune in every morning and I constantly observe the C-Span host to see if, through the slight nuance of how a question is posed, or perhaps even a slight facial tic, if I can detect the host's bias.  Never happens; even when a caller is clearly a complete idiot and is spouting ignorance.  At most, the host might ask for the caller to cite an example to prove an assertion. 

I especially enjoy C-Span's History and C-Span Book TV; love the author interviews and the discussions of historical figures.

So I love C-Span as do millions of other Americans.  Brian Lamb should be lauded for his guidance and strict adherence to absolute broadcast neutrality.  Who would have thought that such a great American treasure could have been born from profit-hungry corporate cable executives.

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