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June 21st, 2010
11:55 AM ET

Opinion: Is America tuning out Capitol Hill?

Julian E. Zelizer
Special to CNN

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2010/OPINION/06/21/zelizer.congressional.hearings/tzleft.julian.zelizer.jroemer.jpg caption="Zelizer: Ability of congressional committees to shine a light on wrongdoing has diminished" width=300 height=169]

At my local gym Thursday, one of the television sets showed the live CNN broadcast of Rep. Henry Waxman questioning BP CEO Tony Hayward about how so much could have gone wrong.

The problem was, most people at the gym weren't watching. Some of them were tuned in to the other television sets on the wall that broadcast the World Cup. Yet others had their eyes glued to the music video stations that play continuously throughout the day near the Nautilus machines.

The runners on the treadmills had their eyes on the small television monitors on their equipment, each set on the particular show that interested them - in most cases, not news channels. Near the coffee bar, two men spoke to each other as each stared down at their Blackberries, oblivious to the hearings showing right over their head.

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Filed under: Opinion
soundoff (6 Responses)
  1. robert fisher

    Congressional hearing ?...Bull !! Congressional show biz you mean
    alot of those guys are worryed about being reelected and are using big companys money to do it ...we need new laws on this and new officials....yea I'm one of the little people !

    June 21, 2010 at 1:53 pm |
  2. eliefl

    Maybe people don´t mean to tune out Capitol Hill. They may have already heard a lot of lame excuses from BP,nothing that can really be
    effective to solve the problem.World Cup, music videos,checking messages,whatever, might be way more interesting.I wouldn´t blame
    them people.
    eliane from brasil

    June 21, 2010 at 12:30 pm |
  3. kathleen

    Yes we are because they are tuning us out. It used to be that our elected officials voted the way the way of the people of her/his district wanted;now they vote party lines only and to hell with the people and how it will effect their lives.

    June 21, 2010 at 12:21 pm |
  4. Jennifer

    Yep! That's apathy at its best.

    When will the American people WAKE UP??

    June 21, 2010 at 12:17 pm |
  5. Mel Higgins

    Congress does not listen to us, so we see them produce no public heathcare option (awarding big insurance), no banking reform (did not reinstitute Volker act), nor betting using our money (no capital requirements), no resolution of TBTF, earmark insults, no usury law reinstitution, no campagne contributor declarations, theivery accepting obscene contributions enabling puppeteering by big oil banks pharmacutical, etc.

    No I'd say trow them all out. Both party's. Al Greene SC go for it buddy!

    June 21, 2010 at 12:15 pm |
  6. Brian

    If anything, Capitol Hill is tuning America out.

    June 21, 2010 at 11:58 am |