Individuals who have never been smeared can also be affected. Highly qualified people, whose knowledge and judgment are much needed in high places, may turn down judicial nominations, for example, or decline other high-profile positions in government, if that means risking having outstanding reputations for integrity that they have built up over a lifetime be dragged through the mud in televised confirmation hearings conducted like Roman circuses.
Such top-level people can always be replaced by warm bodies, as Judge Robert Bork was replaced by Judge Anthony Kennedy, after the smearing of Judge Bork by the Senate Judiciary Committee defeated his nomination.
But the whole country continues to this day to pay dearly for having Anthony Kennedy on the Supreme Court, making intellectually foppish decisions.
One of the perennial crusades of the media has been to have more government business televised. Their self-interest in this is obvious. But the benefits of televising government proceedings-- if there are any benefits-- must be weighed against the enormous harm that this can do not only to individuals but to the country.
Television conveys false information as readily as it conveys the truth. Congressional hearings are not glimpses of truth. They are staged events to perpetuate some political spin.
Televising these political shows only impedes Congress' ability to get serious work done in private instead of spending time playing to the peanut gallery.
Both individuals and the country deserve more protection from publicity abuse than they usually get.