A blog about Politics, Texas, and Academia

Presidential Debating on YouTube

In Politics, YouTube on June 14, 2007 at 10:48 am

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Looks like a Democratic debate in July will be broadcasted on YouTube. For the past 9 months or so, YouTube has been inundated with video clips of Presidential hopefuls and their campaigns. If you want to kill a quick hour, just type ELECTION 08 in the search bar and almost 300 pages of video results pop up. Now the website is going to take the candidates and the run for the big cheese position a little bit further.

The presidential debates are about to enter the world of YouTube, the anything-goes home-video-sharing Web site that puts the power in the hands of the camera holder. YouTube, which is owned by Google, and CNN are co-sponsoring a debate among the eight Democratic presidential candidates on July 23 in South Carolina, an event that could define the next phase of what has already been called the YouTube election, a visual realm beyond Web sites and blogs.

The candidates are to assemble on a stage in Charleston, S.C., at the Citadel (yes, the Citadel, the military school criticized by some Democrats a decade ago before it began admitting women). The questions will come via video submitted by ordinary people through YouTube. Moderating between the viewer and the candidates will be Anderson Cooper, the CNN anchor.

The video format opens the door for originality and spontaneity — elements usually foreign to the controlled environment of presidential image-making. Because visual images can be more powerful than words, the videos have the potential to elicit emotional responses from the candidates and frame the election in new ways.

“It’s one of the biggest innovations we’ve seen in politics,” said Mike Gehrke, director of research for the Democratic National Committee, which has sanctioned the YouTube/CNN event as the first of six official Democratic debates this year (which means the party has coordinated them).

User-generated video, he said, is changing the balance in campaigns. “It used to be a one-way street,” he said. “It would cost a lot of money for a campaign to put together a good TV ad, then you had to buy time, put it on the air and later on Web sites. Now it goes the other way too, and you have people talking to each other and to the campaigns.”


This is a pretty clever idea seeing that everyone from the first-time 18 year old voter to your buddy’s granny can access the web. As for viewing the random political videos on YouTube, one must keep in mind that these videos are really nothing more than television ads and in some cases paid for by the candidate’s party so there are a lot of “smear” videos on the site. Additionally, you have the ordinary Joe making videos in his own living room about the candidates and broadcasting them in the sea of the internet. I can’t think of anything more boring than some nobody videoing themselves in a one-way discussion about Bush and the war in Iraq. zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz. Oh well, that’s the power of the First Amendment.



As for the increased popularity of YouTube and politics, the article also mentions the controversial Hillary 1984 video and Barack Obama’s comments about the new realm of debating.


For the full article, click here.




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