The importance of oversight in America’s past and present

A new Wayne State University project highlights the significance of congressional oversight commissions.

More than a year after the January 6th insurrection attempt, we’re learning more about the level of coordination that went into the effort to overturn 2020’s election result in favor of Donald Trump. The congressional commission tasked with uncovering details behind the attempted coup hopes its work will prevent future attacks on our democracy.

However, governmental oversight does not always lead to true accountability. The Levin Center at Wayne State University has a new project titled “Portraits in Oversight,” which explores history of such investigations throughout the United States’ past.

“Oversight is something that the media plays a very important role in and that the public has to be very attentive to, so, really, it’s an ecosystem.” — Jim Townsend, Levin Center at Wayne State University Law School


Listen: How oversight commissions have altered the course of American history.

 


Guests

Norman Ornstein is an emeritus scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, bestselling author, and a contributing editor for The Atlantic. He says the Republican Party is no longer working with Democrats to investigate legitimate concerns facing our democracy, including the events of January 6th. “What we see now is, I think, a dramatic example of a party that’s gone rogue,” says Ornstein.

Jim Townsend is the director of the Levin Center at Wayne State University Law School. Townsend says although congressional investigations into the Ku Klux Klan didn’t change hearts and minds in the American south, the information was picked up by reporters and spread across the country. “Oversight is something that the media plays a very important role in and that the public has to be very attentive to, so, really, it’s an ecosystem,” he says.

Learn more about Wayne State University’s “Portraits in Oversight” project here.

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Author

  • Sam Corey is a producer for Detroit Today on 101.9 WDET, which includes finding and preparing interesting stories for radio. He enjoys salsa dancing — and actual salsa.