North Carolina's Senator Sam Ervin opened the Watergate Hearings on May 17, 1973, and for the rest of the summer, the hearings dominated the TV schedule.
The three commercial television networks (ABC, CBS, and NBC) all broadcast the hearings live for the first five days. After that, they took turns providing live coverage, resulting in 319 hours of televised coverage by the time the hearings closed on August 7.
N.C. Sen. Sam Ervin listens to Rufus Edmisten, deputy chief counsel of the Watergate committee, (AP file photo)
As he anticipated the beginning of the hearings, Ervin credited the press for their role exposing in the Watergate affair.
Ervin praised investigative reporting for bringing he scandal to the public's attention. "The press of America deserves the thanks of the people for what it has done." --The News & Observer, 5/17/1973