“Happy 40th birthday, C-SPAN. We need you more than ever,” writesThe Washington Post Gingrich says the nation owes C-SPAN “a big vote of gratitude for empowering citizenship in the television age,” while the liberal journalist Josh Marshall, who agrees with Gingrich on little else, says it “is one of the few, unmitigated pluses in the modern media world.” Anytime so many people agree about something, there’s usually reason for suspicion. the secret is politicians love C-SPAN for the opportunity to grandstand. What if C-SPAN is not an anachronism, but an author of today’s political chaos? "The House, which limits the length of debate over legislation, has a rule allowing so-called special orders—permission to give lengthy speeches at the end of each legislative day. These have long been a means by which congressmen could read into the Congressional Record various matters of importance to their constituents, usually matters of trivia. But Gingrich, concerned less with the Record than with the potential television audience, began to use special orders regularly as his platform for advancing ideas and, especially, for attacking the Democratic majority." Once, in 1984, Tip O’Neill, annoyed at Gingrich, had cameras pan to show that no one was listening to some stem-winder. When the public doesn’t think of its institutions as formative but as performative—when the presidency and Congress are just stages for individual performance art … they become harder to trust.