C-SPAN founder Brian Lamb received the Presidential Medal of Freedom Award at a White House ceremony Monday morning, getting a pat on the back from a tanned and beaming President Bush.
Lamb joined author Harper Lee (To Kill a Mockingbird) and others in receiving the nation's highest civilian honor.
"Each of them by effort and by character has earned the respect of the American people and holds a unique place in the story of our time," President Bush said of the honorees.
Lamb was saluted for "elevat[ing] America's public debate and help[ing] to open up our government to citizens across the nation. His dedication to a transparent political system and the free flow of ideas has enriched and strengthened our democracy."
The president called him a visionary whose network has "revived the town hall spirit for a modern, continental nation."
"For nearly 30 years," the president pointed out, "the proceedings of the House of Representatives have been televised unfiltered, uninterrupted, unedited, and live. For this we can thank C-SPAN. And for C-SPAN, we can thank a visionary American named Brian Lamb.
C-SPAN, said President Bush, has no agenda, and only one assumption: "that interested viewers are intelligent and can make up their own minds about what they see and hear."
C-SPAN, said the president, "is a tool that enlightens democracy and informs and educates citizens at all ages and at all hours. But, putting his presidential seal of approval on Lamb's behind-the-scenes approach to changing the political coverage landscape, President Bush said that, in all those hours--some 17,000 a year of coverage--"you can watch for years and never hear anyone say the name Brian Lamb. Even Brian never says it."
For his enormous achievement and his personal modesty, for his high standards and his contribution to our democracy, America is grateul to Mr. Brian Lamb."
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