"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.
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.