Gavel-to-gavel TV coverage from the floor of the Senate began on June 2, 1986
C-SPAN2 launched 25 years ago, giving 6.7 million lucky households with cable subscriptions a glimpse into the day-to-day drudgery happening on the Senate floor.
Today, the sister network of C-SPAN, which itself launched in 1979 as a channel devoted to action taking place in the U.S. House of Representatives, is available in 89 million households, and has expanded far beyond its original purview of granting us lowly commoners gavel-to-gavel access to all the filibusters and quorum calls we only used to read about in the paper.
The names of the elected officials on hand for C-SPAN2’s first day of coverage now read like members of our political Valhalla, and watching the clips up on the network’s website is almost like the senatorial version of the 1986 Major League Baseball All-Star Game, in which 11 future hall-of-famers played.
Enjoy the video below, which excerpts the first few hours of coverage from June 2, 1986. Watch president pro tempore Strom Thurmond (R-SC) bang his grumpy gavel! See majority leader Bob Dole (R-KS) get all meta talking about TV coverage in the senate! And check out Al Gore (D-TN) looking all thin yet still Al Gore like!
[Click the image to view the video]