A screenshot of C-SPAN during a House vote on January 1, 2013. (Mladen Antonov/AFP/Getty Images)
BOSTON (WBZ NewsRadio) — My understanding is that—just as there’s a five-second rule for eating food that fell on the floor—there’s a 24-hour rule for missed birthdays, during which you can still mark the date without being marked tardy.
So I feel safe in wishing C-SPAN, the cable TV industry’s gift to America, a happy 40th birthday a day late.
I’ve watched more C-SPAN since 1979 than I care to think about, but for good reason. As a political reporter, it’s been an indispensable primary source of information about what the federal government is doing or, more often, not doing.
For instance, I learned a lot about what motivates many of our top political leaders from the fuss that greeted C-SPAN's debut.
Members of the House, which allowed cameras in years before the Senate, insisted on controlling the video, so that they wouldn’t be shown napping or doing other impolitic things.
The Senate didn’t allow C-SPAN in for seven years, taking that long to realize that TV coverage meant more press coverage and public recognition.
And C-SPAN's extensive coverage of other political events—presidential campaigns, State of the State speeches, and local candidate debates—can give even the laziest couch potato a primer in what’s going on that no other media outlet can match.
C-SPAN has brought sunlight to an important but once-dark corner of our democracy.
And I don’t know about you, but when it comes to what my government is up to, I want to know more, not less.
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