Whenever I get too depressed about all the media institutions that have lost their sense of mission during the last tumultuous decade, I turn on C-SPAN.
It's one of the few mainstream operations that seems totally confident in its higher purpose, and tonight's "Voters First Forum" with 14 GOP candidates from New Hampshire looks to be a great example.
The big buzz this week is about the debate with 10 GOP candidates on Fox News Thursday night. And I am as psyched as anyone for it. I'll be blogging Thursday night and probably Friday, Saturday and Sunday, too, if it goes the way I think it will.
But tonight, C-SPAN teams up with the "New Hampshire Union Leader" and other newspapers in early presidential caucus and primary states to present the "Voters First Forum" providing live coverage from 6:30 to 9:30 p.m. on TV, radio and Internet. With three hours, voters should have the chance to get a better feel for even a field this large. (The forum starts at 7 p.m.)
Those who are complaining about cable channels limiting the debate field to 10 candidates selected on the basis of popularity should know that C-SPAN opened this forum to all comers.
Donald Trump and Mike Huckabee declined to participate, while Jim Gilmore announced his candidacy "after the qualifying period," according to a release from C-SPAN.
Here are the participants: Jeb Bush, Chris Christie, Ben Carson, Ted Cruz, Carly Fiorina, Lindsey Graham, Bobby Jindal, John Kasich, George Pataki, Rand Paul, Rick Perry, Marco Rubio, Rick Santorum and Scott Walker.
Granted the big fish will not be in the tank. But Trump's explanation that he isn't coming because he feels it is unlikely the Union Leader will endorse him, speaks volumes about his candidacy, if you ask me.
I will be there tonight as C-SPAN once again shows its commitment to bringing citizens as much information as it can about the people who want their votes.
This is the way media are supposed to serve democracy whether or not Trump thinks it is worth his while to appear.