Tuesday, July 14, 2009

TV Media & Politics: Televised Hearings Encouraged Senators To Dominate All But 8 Minutes Of Confirmation Hearing With Speeches Promoting Themselves

If yesterday's confirmation hearing for Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor was intended to be an educational experience for the nation, then you'd never have known it from the way that senators of both parties managed to dominate all but 8 minutes of the hearings with speeches or statements about themselves or their own views. Anyone watching coverage by CSPAN or other cable news networks had to be simply appalled that the nominee was given so little time to represent herself or her own views. Yet this is exactly the type of spectacle that confirmation hearings have become since CSpan or other news agencies began to move cameras into Congress for important hearings. Politicians of both parties play to the audience of viewers when such events are televised.

Television media had hoped to make important events more accessible for the public and better educate the public by moving cameras into government hearings some years ago. Instead, politicians now find that media gives them a free soapbox platform to run for re-election, or to some higher office. Part of the mission of CSpan has failed to educate the public because politicians have altered their behavior to use the media for their own benefit.

Some years ago, CSpan was hailed as a great educational breakthrough for the public appetite for information and as a means to make government's affairs more open. Instead, politicians have now found that this medium gives them new opportunities at self-promotion.

Back in 1967 , the great media author Marshall McLuhan's book THE MEDIUM IS THE MASSAGE seemed to view that the media surrounding us would act to shape our understanding and perception of the world around us as well as to affect our behavior. Whenever hearings are held in Congress, those who are given a platform to speak seem to be playing to the camera or to core groups of voters. It alters their behavior, and possiby their votes as well. The impact of moving cameras into government cannot be understated. Behavior of all types were altered forever when cameras moved into Congress.


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