WASHINGTON—Congress opened its doors to the American public 40 years ago as of Tuesday, March 19, with the first broadcast of C-SPAN. The creation of C-SPAN has provided a level of transparency to government dealings for the everyday citizen, including political and policy debates that have ranged from budget talks to foreign policy.
C-SPAN came about as a privately-funded, non-profit public service TV network that was possible with the emergence of cable television. Since then, it has provided “gavel-to-gavel” coverage of both the House and Senate without editing, commentary or analysis, nor commercials. Over the years additional programs have been developed to supplement live coverage of government dealings that range from TV, radio, podcasts to social media platforms.
Some of the most famous moments that C-SPAN has covered throughout its history has included Congress debating whether to go to war in the Persian Gulf in January 1991; the House’s first change of political leadership (from Democratic to Republican) in 40 years in 1995; the debate and vote on impeaching Bill Clinton in 1998; Nancy Pelosi becoming the first woman speaker of the House in 2007; and the 2009 debate and passing of the Affordable Health Care Act.
C-SPAN has curated some of the most important bits of its coverage from each of its 40 years on YouTube. All C-SPAN content is archived on the C-SPAN website, free for public use.
“Forty years ago C-SPAN first put the U.S. House of Representatives on television, opening a window for viewers to get an unfiltered view of government,” reads a release from the network. “While Washington may have changed, we haven’t—our unblinking eye on Congress and public debate continues. The window is still open, giving the world a front-row-seat to democracy.”
Read More: A Q&A With C-Span Co-CEO Robert Kennedy