Chapell & Associates

Monday, January 29, 2007

The YouTube Election

Jeff Jarvis posted on the impact that YouTube is already having on the nascent 2008 Presidential Race.

The revolution will not be televised. It will be YouTubed. The open TV of the people is already turning into a powerful instrument of politics - of communication, message, and image - in the next US presidential election. Witness: Democrats Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama and John Edwards; Republican Sam Brownback; and more candidates just announced their runs for the White House not in network-news interviews, nor in big, public events, but instead in their own online videos.

The advantages are many: the candidates may pick their settings - Edwards in front of a house being rebuilt in New Orleans; Clinton in a room that reminds one of the Oval Office. They control their message without pesky reporters' questions - Edwards brought in the video-bloggers from to chat with him; Brownback, a religious conservative, invoked God and prayer often enough for a sermon; Clinton was able to say she wants to get out of Iraq the right way without having to define that way. (emphasis added)

I'm beginning to wonder if YouTube will have the democratizing effect that many believe that it will. Once upon a time, someone running for President WOULD in fact need to subject themselves to questions from pesky reporters. And once in a while, those pesky reporter would get the candidates to speak off script. They'd force the candidates to actually defend their positions.

The recent campaign commercials/announcements from Senator Clinton and others allow them to make those announcements with far less direct scrutiny. Is it really good thing that Senator Clinton doesn't need to provide us with any specifics regarding her solutions to Iraq? I know that might help her get elected, but it's not really helping to... ya know..addresss the problems over there. I don't pretend to have the answers, but I can tell you that an open exchange of ideas isn't such a bad thing. And forum in which the candidates present their message to the electorate free of give and take with an independent third party does not necessarily facilitate political discourse.

I recognize that most of the major media abdicated this responsibility in the run up to war in Iraq, but someone needs to hold the politicians feet to the proverbial fire. And yes, we can post comments on most blogs (assuming that the more pesky comments aren't deleted) and we can create our own blogs - but there's a difference between responding to criticism (or not) via a rehearsed podcast and being forced to respond to critics because Tim Russert is asking you tough questions on national TV.

Otherwise, you don't have political discourse... you have theater.
posted by Alan on Monday, January 29, 2007

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