C-Span founder Brian Lamb — who is preparing to sign off the network next month after 40 years — said that “lying” is pervasive in Washington, D.C., and the trend line has been for it to get worse, not better.
C-Span was the brainchild of Lamb after serving as a public affairs officer in the U.S. Navy during the height of the Vietnam War in the 1960s and a press secretary for a U.S. senator starting later in the decade.
The Indiana native believed the American people, and the democratic process as a whole, would benefit from being given unfettered access to congressional proceedings at the Capitol, and not just accounts of what happened, related through the media.
“Lying is the word that I would use to describe this town,” Lamb recently told The Wall Street Journal. “I don’t know if it will ever stop. It’s gotten worse rather than getting better, and both sides do it. You’ve got to listen very carefully to what they’re saying.”
— BCNN1 (@bcnn1) April 20, 2019
For the past 30 years, the 77-year-old has hosted the Sunday night interview program “Q&A” on C-Span.
Some of his big “gets” over the years have included former presidents Richard Nixon, Gerald Ford, Jimmy Carter, Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush, Bill Clinton and George W. Bush, as well as other renowned world leaders such as Margaret Thatcher and Mikhail Gorbachev, according to a biography put together by his alma mater, Purdue University.
Beginning in 1989, Lamb has also interviewed about 800 non-fiction authors for the weekly program “Booknotes.”
His last interviewee is slated to be Pulitzer Prize-winning historian David McCullough for “Q&A” on May 19.
Asked why he decided to end his run on C-Span, Lamb responded, “It’s just time.”
“I remember, sadly, when David Brinkley was doing the ABC Sunday show near the end, he shouldn’t have been. And he waited too long — and people were talking about it,” the media pioneer added.
When Lamb launched, C-Span in March 1979, he had just four employees, including himself, and the network aired on one channel going into 3.5 households, according to The Baltimore Sun.
C-SPAN Founder and Chairman Brian Lamb offers his thanks to our viewers, the U.S. Congress, and the cable television industry as we celebrate 40 years of allowing viewers to make up their own minds. #cspan40 pic.twitter.com/aw3JAQ5MaL
— CSPAN (@cspan) March 19, 2019
“Today, C-SPAN employs approximately 270 people and delivers public affairs programming on three television channels to the nation’s cable and satellite customers; globally to Internet users via C-SPAN.org and 15 other internet sites; and to radio listeners through C-SPAN radio—an FM station in Washington that can also be heard on XM satellite service nationwide,” The Wall Street Journal reported.
C-Span reaches 89 million homes, which is down from a recent peak of 100 million in 2014, as people shift away from cable to streaming services.
The network is entirely funded by cable subscribers.
In contrast to PBS and NPR, “We get no money whatsoever, not one dime, from the government,” Lamb told The Wall Street Journal.
Besides “lying,” Lamb said another thing he has observed over the years in Washington is the power of lobbyists.
“There’s a lot about this town that you can’t figure out,” he told The Journal. “What you can’t see is the incredible value, or influence, of lobbyists. They’re hidden. They’re writing legislation. They’re writing speeches. They’re feeding the process.”
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