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Founding Father: How C-Span's Brian Lamb Changed Politics in America
     

Founding Father: How C-Span's Brian Lamb Changed Politics in America

by Stephen E. Frantzich
 

"And just who was President Lincoln?" One can almost hear Brian Lamb's understated Midwestern intonation of an almost absurdly basic question. Without pretense or the need to sound important, Lamb seeks to open the door to an understanding of public affairs by asking the questions his intelligent, but unworldly, mother might have asked. His open-ended questions

Overview

"And just who was President Lincoln?" One can almost hear Brian Lamb's understated Midwestern intonation of an almost absurdly basic question. Without pretense or the need to sound important, Lamb seeks to open the door to an understanding of public affairs by asking the questions his intelligent, but unworldly, mother might have asked. His open-ended questions often catch his subjects off-guard compared to the sound bite and gotcha journalism from which they have become accustomed to protecting themselves. The term "C-SPAN" has gone from an acronym known only by a few outsiders to the descriptor "C-SPAN-like coverage" to characterize a new journalistic genre. More than most endeavors, C-SPAN's origin, development, operations, and legacy can be traced back to one person. Brian Lamb has never been elected to office nor appointed to a policy-making position, yet his impact on American politics supercedes that of many whose titles and positions imply greater influence. The "founding father" and "inspirational heart" of C-SPAN serves as the broker for democracy. Founding Father is the first biography of the enigmatic, self-effacing, and modest Brian Lamb. It explores Lamb's experiences as a student in the Midwest, public affairs officer to Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara, White House staffer during the Johnson and Nixon administrations (including his efforts to advise and prepare Vice President Gerald Ford to assume the presidency following the anticipated resignation of President Richard Nixon), Capitol Hill press secretary, media columnist, and many other previously unknown stories. Founding Father also chronicles the creation and rise of C-SPAN from a dream, to an unknown niche network, to the network of record for public affairs with its legion of C-SPAN junkies.

Editorial Reviews

Newt Gingrich
Stephen Frantzich has written an intriguing study of one of America's greatest social entrepreneurs. I first came to Congress as C-SPAN was starting. With Brian Lamb's leadership, it became a window into the House and then into the Senate. For transparency, accountability, and citizen participation, Brian Lamb is one of the greatest innovators in American history.
Walter Isaacson
Brian Lamb realized that Americans deserved, and would appreciate, a direct and unfiltered window into their government, politics, and intellectual life. He was a pioneer who understood that the media sometimes did best when they got out of the way. This well-reported book traces Lamb's life and describes how he changed politics in America.
Midwest Book Review - Willis M. Buhle
Informed, informative, and superbly written, readers are provided with background insight into how Brian Lamb managed to create (and get funded) a non-commerical television operation that is even-handed and highly praised by Democrats, Republicans, Independants, Academics, and political science enthusiasts from all walks of life.... Founding Father is an essential acquisition for both academic and community library collections as well as being a 'must read.'
The Midwest Book Review
Informed, informative, and superbly written, readers are provided with background insight into how Brian Lamb managed to create (and get funded) a non-commerical television operation that is even-handed and highly praised by Democrats, Republicans, Independants, Academics, and political science enthusiasts from all walks of life.... Founding Father is an essential acquisition for both academic and community library collections as well as being a 'must read.'
— Willis M. Buhle
Library Journal

In this first and insightful analysis of C-SPAN (Cable-Satellite Public Affairs Network) founder and CEO Brian Lamb, Frantzich (political science, U.S. Naval Academy; Citizen Democracy) offers not only a thoughtful biography but, more significantly, a persuasive polemic on the values of participatory democracy. C-SPAN first aired in March 1979, with support from the cable industry (it has never received government funding) and provides neutral live observance of House and Senate proceedings, as well as such interview programs as Book TV. On C-SPAN there are no anchor personalities; the functioning of the U.S. government is center stage. A former political insider, serving both LBJ and Nixon, Lamb emerges as a conservative revolutionary, dedicated to the proposition that while politics itself is not a spectator sport, television can aid in the understanding and appreciation of fundamental American political principles-and thus the support of democracy in action. Justice Louis Brandeis once opined that the greatest threat to democracy is an inert people. In this year's presidential campaign season, no one, as Frantzich argues, presents the American electorate with a more compelling means or reason to be energized than Lamb's network. Recommended for all libraries.
—Stephen K. Shaw

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780742558502
Publisher:
Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc.
Publication date:
04/25/2008
Pages:
208
Product dimensions:
6.30(w) x 9.50(h) x 0.73(d)

Meet the Author

Stephen E. Frantzich is professor of political science at the U.S. Naval Academy. He is the author of over a dozen books, including Citizen Democracy: Citizen Activists in a Cynical Age and The C-Span Revolution. He regularly provides congressional testimony on such topics as Congressional continuity and democracy and technology. He has served as a consultant to C-SPAN, the Dirksen Center, foreign parliaments, and a number of foundations. He lives in Annapolis, Maryland.

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