David Zurawik: TV hearings are no longer changing the course of history

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Once upon a time, televised hearings could galvanize the nation, set the national agenda and even change the course of history. Think of the Army-McCarthy hearings in 1954, which spelled the end of Wisconsin Republican Sen. Joseph McCarthy and his witch hunts for Communists, or the Senate Watergate Hearings in 1973, which ultimately led to the resignation of President Richard Nixon.

But that kind of impact by TV hearings is a thing of the past in our on-demand, fragmented, digital media age. It’s one more thing that has changed for the worse in part thanks to new media technology and the way it has helped mostly divide rather than unite us as promised.

That’s what I was thinking as the first House select committee hearing on the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol came to an end Tuesday. I had been deeply moved by the testimony of four police officers who battled the…

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