This hearing, which took place on Tuesday, sought to determine Goldman’s possible role in the financial crisis of 2008. The SEC charged Goldman with fraud on Friday, arguing that the firm covered up important information that could have prevented the crisis. The hearing’s goal, supposedly, was to shed light on the plausibility of the SEC’s claim, as well as to inform the legislature on the issue of financial reform currently being debated in Washington. But this hearing proved to be no more than a media spectacle. As with most senate hearings, the Goldman hearing was simply a venue for senators to grab some much coveted national air time, asking emotionally charged, vague, and counterproductive questions to Goldman executives.
Further, the fact that this spectacle was televised at all was unnecessary; every questioned asked was submitted in writing after the hearing. My qualm is a basic media critique. It seems that television networks are using these senate hearings to profit from the emotional public, offering them numerous scapegoats for various national problems, regardless of innocence or guilt. Further, politicians use these spectacles to acquire free national publicity, which would otherwise be very expensive. The media is no longer a tool for the public to enforce accountability on its government; instead, it serves the interests of politicians and corporations.