On this week’s Past Present podcast, Nicole Hemmer, Natalia Mehlman Petrzela, and Neil Young discuss Benghazi and the history of Congressional hearings, Ben Carson and black Republicans, and the state of reality TV today.
Hillary Clinton’s testimony before the Congressional committee on Benghazi is just the latest event in a Congressional investigation that has lasted 72 months, inviting comparison to other Congressional hearings, including the Army-McCarthy hearings of 1954, Watergate, and the Iran-Contra affair. Natalia remarked that liberal media outlets, like the New Yorker, have concluded Clinton emerged triumphant from the hearings, while Neil noted that Fox News had cut away from its broadcast of the hearings once the Republicans appeared to have bungled their case against Clinton.
Ben Carson has emerged as a frontrunner for the Republican nomination for president, but African-American Republicans are an increasingly rare group. Niki recommended Leah Wright Rigueur’s book, The Loneliness of the Black Republican, as an excellent recent history of black conservatives and the party of Lincoln.
The End of Reality TV
American Idol and Survivor are slumping in the ratings, but is reality TV dead? Neil argued no, pointing to the proliferation of reality TV shows that continue to blanket the airwaves. The history of reality TV is a complicated one, however, in part because no one seems to agree on what exactly defines the genre.
What’s Making History
- Natalia commented on the controversy at the University of Louisville where the school’s president and other administrators wore stereotypical Mexican costumes to a staff Halloween party.
- Neil noted the record established on October 28 that the U.S. had gone 18,967 days without a president dying in office since John F. Kennedy’s assassination in 1963. The previous record of 18,966 lasted between George Washington’s inauguration in 1789 and William Henry Harrison’s death in 1841.
- Niki discussed Paul Ryan’s ascension to the speakership and explained why Speakers of the House almost never make it to the Oval Office.