C-Spanning the globe.

Sunday, August 29th, 2004

My brother called earlier this afternoon to ask if I was watching the protests on the streets of NYC on C-Span. “Punching in and out of it,” I said.

It occurred to me that everyone I had talked to who watched the Democratic Convention on television—seriously—watched most of the coverage on C-SPAN, blissfully spared commercials and Wolf Blitzer’s tiny microphones and the blather they picked up.

And now again, on the eve of the Republican Conventions, this non-profit service of your local cable companies—in some ways more “public” than public television—is serving the American public interest by just pointing a camera out on the streets of Manhattan and shutting the hell up. What’s CNN covering at the same moment? Prepackaged People magazine biography of Dick Cheney. Fox News? Canned wrap up of the week’s news—old news.

C-Span is in many ways doing the job of the 24-hour news channels, at a fraction of their budget. It’s the kind of service that makes one wish their mandate was broader: “Where’s C-Span for the Olympics?” Sammy asked.

So now, here come the Republicans. If you want to watch—really watch, you know where to go.