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We live in a hyper-connected, social media driven, 24-hour news networked world. For better or worse, it’s hard to imagine a time when coverage from Washington was anything other than live and total. But what today passes for news can’t compare to the real, unedited authenticity of what’s happening at any moment on the floor of the US House of Representatives. And so in 1979, C-SPAN was born, coined the term gavel-to-gavel, and delivered just that. Tomorrow is their 35th anniversary.
To celebrate, C-SPAN has curated a video list of its 35 greatest moments. One from each of the years it’s been on the air, live and commercial free. Its first moment, an announcement regarding the cable broadcasting of House proceedings, was made by none other than the Democrat from Tennessee, Al Gore.
For 35 years, C-SPAN has stood as a hallmark of transparency in Democracy. Just think back on the political moments and personalities that have shaped America over the last 35 years. Without C-SPAN, we would have never had a direct, unfettered window into these watershed moments. Accountability has an all-new meaning as constituents now watch their representatives in action rather than relying on press coverage. And, as the Internet redefines media, C-SPAN has served as perhaps the defining digital archive of our government with an online catalogue offering over 200,000 hours of historic content with everything from hearings to presidential debates.
Cable’s brought a lot of things to our doorsteps, but perhaps C-SPAN is its most enduring. A better understanding of how our government works and stronger accountability for elected officials has had an immeasurable impact. We congratulate C-SPAN and look forward to the next 35 years.