Personal Democracy Plus Our premium content network. LEARN MORE You are not logged in. LOG IN NOW >

MoveOn.org Hits a Health Care Nerve

BY Micah L. Sifry | Wednesday, September 23 2009

A new online video released yesterday by liberal online behemoth MoveOn.org has hit a nerve. Starring comedian Will Ferrell and a host of A-list Hollywood actors, the video has already been 1.5 million times in less than 24 hours. Ilyse Hogue, the group's director of political advocacy and communication, tells me that it is "by far our best performing [video] through social networks." She reports that nearly 250,000 of those views have come from people clicking through links that supporters of MoveOn have placed on their Facebook pages, and another 36,000 or so from Twitter referrers. Not bad. Personally, I found the video a bit too sarcastic and dark to convince people who aren't already sure of the need for health care reform or angry about the huge profits made by private insurers while they deny vital health care benefits to consumers. Indeed, an unscientific online poll on the CNBC website found its business-oriented readers mostly untouched by the MoveOn/Ferrell message. My friend Deanna Zandt, a progressive social media strategist who is writing a book called Shared This Change on this topic, emailed me:
The problem with this video is that it's far too late to be publicizing with jokes and sarcasm. I understand the value of rallying the troops, but enlisting Will Ferrell (whom I love!) and other celebrities at a time when so much of the country has been seriously, *seriously* lied to, to then in many ways reinforce those terrible frames... It's just sort of dumbfounding to me. I love a good joke (see Billionaires for Wealthcare, for example--Rachel Maddow covered them last week) but this is just not MoveOn's role at this extraordinary juncture. It's indulgent of their role in progressive activism-- they are hugely influential for many people, and they are wasting their social capital on sarcasm.
But Hogue insists that the video is doing what it is supposed to do. "I don't think we meant it to move people in the middle," she told me. "It's meant to raise the profile of the insurance companies and the execs." In that respect, it's clearly working. News coverage from mainstream outlets like the New York Times and NPR definitely played up that angle. "Hollywoood Reaches Out to Insurance Executives, and Slaps Them," headlined the Times.

News Briefs

RSS Feed thursday >

NYC Open Data Advocates Focus on Quality And Value Over Quantity

The New York City Department of Information Technology and Telecommunications plans to publish more than double the amount of datasets this year than it published to the portal last year, new Commissioner Anne Roest wrote last week in an annual report mandated by the city's open data law, with 135 datasets scheduled to be released this year, and almost 100 more to come in 2015. But as preparations are underway for City Council open data oversight hearings in the fall, what matters more to advocates than the absolute number of the datasets is their quality. GO

Civic Tech and Engagement: Announcing a New Series on What Makes it "Thick"

Announcing a new series of feature articles that we will be publishing over the next several months, thanks to the support of the Rita Allen Foundation. Our focus is on digitally-enabled civic engagement, and in particular, how and under what conditions "thick" digital civic engagement occurs. What we're after is answers to this question: When does a tech tool or platform enable actual people to make ongoing and significant contributions to each other, to a place or cause, at a scale that produces demonstrable change? GO

monday >

Tweets2Rue Helps Homeless to Help Themselves Through Twitter

While most solutions to homelessness focus on addressing physical needs -- a roof over the head and food to eat -- one initiative in France known as Tweets2Rue knows that for the homeless, a house is still not a home, so to speak: the homeless are often entrenched in a viscous cycle of social isolation that keeps them invisible and powerless. GO

Oakland's Sudo Mesh Looks to Counter Censorship and Digital Divide With a Mesh Network

In Oakland, a city with deep roots in radical activism and a growing tech scene at odds with the hyper-capital-driven Silicon Valley, those at the Sudo Room hackerspace believe that the solution to a wide range of problems, from censorship to the digital divide, is a mesh net, a type of decentralized network that is resilient to censorship and disruption and can also bring connectivity to poor communities.

GO

More