John Fund writes in praise of C-SPAN, explaining how it works, and how it came to be, and why it’s popular. He calls it the original "no-spin zone," the best sort of reality TV. Back in 1997, Harvey Mansfield wrote an appreciation of C-SPAN for The American Enterprise that we have saved on our Ashbrook site because it nails it. Mansfield argues that C-SPAN is lovable because it "allows politics to appear as it is, with all its partisan slants." "It doesn’t dismiss people’s opinions merely because they are partisan, and it doesn’t dismiss the aspiration to rise above partisanship merely because the effort often fails or is insincere." Brian Lamb and his people ask questions and then let the person answer them, and they can take as long as they want. The effect, almost always, is to educate.
Mansfield: "The ruling vice of American journalists is not that too many are Democrats but that they show such disrespect for democracy. Their error is mostly unconscious but nonetheless grave: They despise the surface of things and look too much, too quickly, for the inside story. The surface of things in democratic politics is the partisan dispute of the moment, but journalists allow themselves to get bored with that. They don’t listen partly because they have heard it before and mostly because they are convinced beforehand that it doesn’t mean anything. The only important events, they believe, are the ones that go on behind the scenes, and the only important words are those spoken in private: what we don’t see determines what we do see, and the job of the journalist is to unearth secrets, not to report what is obvious.