When the Army-McCarthy hearings convened, on April 22, 1954, Senator Joseph McCarthy (R-Wis.) was one of the most powerful and feared men in the United States. He had charged the military with “coddling Communists” within its ranks, while the Army countered that Roy Cohn, McCarthy’s chief aide, had threatened to “wreck” it. The battle was televised live across the country—a first for the new medium. 

Almost everyone knows that Congress can’t get anything done. Near the close of 2014, the Gallup Organization reported that approval of Congress was near an all-time low of 15 percent. Yes, it was an improvement upon 2013’s low of 14 percent, but yearly averages haven’t risen above 20 percent in the past five years. Back in March, Andy Borowitz joked in The New Yorker that existing technology could no longer detect any approval of Congress whatsoever.