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Daily Digest: 6/14/07

BY Joshua Levy | Thursday, June 14 2007

The Web on the Candidates

  • As we've previously mentioned, CNN and YouTube are co-sponsoring an upcoming Democratic presidential debate on July 23 in Charleston, SC. In a new video announcement, CNN's Anderson Cooper and YouTube's Steve Grove describe the format. YouTube users will submit videos to the site, and some of those will be used as questions for the debate, which will be hosted by Cooper. Another video shows examples of the kind of entries the co-sponsors are looking for: creative videos with red-meat questions about predatory lending in low-income neighborhoods, veteran's benefits, and healthcare.
  • While it will be interesting to see YouTube move concretely into the political sphere, is this really going to change the tone of the debates in which, as the New York Times' Katherine Seelye describes it, "a guy in a suit asks mostly predictable questions of other suits. The voter is a fixture in the audience, motionless until he or she gets to address the candidate, briefly and respectfully. Everything is choreographed"? She thinks it might, since "the video format opens the door for originality and spontaneity — elements usually foreign to the controlled environment of presidential image-making." All of the Democratic candidates have signed up for the debate, which is the first "official" Democratic debate in that it is being coordinated by the DNC. In the Times piece, Matt Lewis of Townhall recommends that risk-averse Republicans get involved too. "Technology will happen, and the question is whether it will happen for you or to you," he said, paraphrasing Tom Friedman from this year's PdF conference.
  • Jerome Armstrong of MyDD has written a forceful post stating that, at this point, the Democratic race is Hillary CLinton's to lose, largely because of Barack Obama's failure to inspire a true movement and to align himself with the netroots. "[The Obama candidacy] is not a movement, but a candidate. It's about Obama, and nothing more. He's got numbers in the same way that Coke or Pepsi have consumers; supporters in the same way that Bono and the Dixie Chicks have fans. But this is partisan politics, and Obama will not survive the rightwing machine's onslaught without a strategy that includes internet partisanship." It's a compelling argument -- but is it true that no movement has sprung up around Obama?

The Candidates on the Web

  • Barack Obama is this week's YouTube Spotlight guest, and in his video he laments that "we've turned away from politics, and the very idea of government in this country," and wants to be able to "restore some sense that politics matters." He's asking viewers to "start sharing your stories about the work that you're doing at a neighborhood level" like working in an AmeriCorps program, or as a teacher, or as a high school student doing volunteer work. He says in the upcoming months (we'll have to wait that long for a response?) his campaign will weave these stories together into "illuminate how this next generation wants to grab the baton and lead us forward." The message certainly plays right into the campaign's "movement" message that they've been pushing so hard.
  • Although it was announced a last week that the Bivings Group is working on Fred Thompson's presidential campaign, they've only just made a public statement about the news themselves. They have an excuse; they've been hard at work updating the I'm With Fred website, which now includes links to new profiles on MySpace, Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter. They've also launched a blog called Fred File, which has also had a ton of content uploaded into it, including Thompson's positions on taxes and Scooter Libby -- mostly written written by a blogger named "Michael." Who is this Michael? Could he be a Turk? In any case, Thompson definitely has a great web team working for him -- even before launching an official web site, and before Thompson has officially announced he's running, they've hit the right notes.

In Case You Missed It...

Micah Sifry has been thinking about the "long tail of online political video" and wonders whether it's time to draw a distinction between "stuff that is clearly professionally made efforts by PR firms or comedy improv groups looking to promote their own brands, and stuff that is more purely voter-generated."

David All has seen the "I Got a Crush on Obama" video that's about to sweep the nation and his verdict is in: "Totally. Undeniably. Awesome."

Colin Delany reports that the Democrats are forming an online response team, and he's invited to join.