Interesting new GOP anti-Obama site, via the The Caucus: CanWeAsk.com mixes social media techniques and video to try to undermine Obama’s credibility. The social media approach is the most interesting part of the site, since it’s soliciting text and video questions for the now-presumed nominee (The Caucus correctly notes that the very existence of the site helps to cement the impression that Obama has crossed the finish line). Participants can upload text questions directly to the site, but the video submission process requests YouTube links instead (free product placement!). The site also has a Donate link and a list of unfavorable GOP news articles about Obama.
To me, the video is the weakest part of the presentation, since it shows Barack in still images that are surely intended to paint him in a bad light, but except for the first one (in which his furrowed brow almost suggests devil horns), to me they actually generally make him look serious and sincere (he’s on-screen throughout the whole clip). The video also uses standard negative-ad “concerned” music, and tries to turn an Obama crowd’s “Yes We Can” chant into an affirmation of our right to ask the candidate tough questions, but in the end it actually just reminds me of the guy’s own message. I have to say, this clip feels like a backfire-in-progress. See what you think:
Update: While I was editing this piece, I let the video run in the background, where I could hear it but not see it, and it felt more effective that way. Still, every time the chant of “Yes We Can” came along, it still seemed to undermine the overall feeling of negativity. Maybe it’s just me.
You wouldn’t know it from watching most television news outlets, but a major story has been brewing behind the scenes since it originally broke in the Times Magazine on April 20th: many of the seemingly objective former military officers appearing on TV as analysts in the run-up to the Iraq war actually had financial ties to military contractors — and spent plenty of time being spun by the Pentagon, including by officials with a role in military procurement.
As discussed in Politico today (via Media Bistro), the news outlets in question have resolutely refused to address the issue in public, in several cases even ignoring letters on the subject from members of Congress. But the story has been kept alive in part by the pajama-clad warriors of the blogosphere, some of whom have followed it with bulldog intensity. A classic function of blogs:
“We are in a time when stories can have a second life,” said Tom Rosenstiel, director of the Project for Excellence in Journalism. A few years ago, if a story did not generate attention after a week, it could be considered dead, said Rosenstiel, who cited the instance of how bloggers revived the U.S. attorney firings story.
Of course, members of Congress have been involved, including John Kerry, whose online petition hit such a nerve with grassroots Democrats that their response apparently overwhelmed the his online advocacy system’s servers. And of course the story originally ran in the Times Magazine and has been covered on PBS’s News Hour, so bloggers aren’t alone in being on the side of the angels. But we’ve often heard mainstream journalists bemoan the standard of conversation common on blogs, and this incident serves as a perfect example of one reason that citizen journalism matters — the amateurs help keep the professionals honest. That couldn’t happen in anywhere near the same kind of way in the information oligopoly that existed before the internet democratized publishing.
Update: Well, we went a little early and just wrapped up at 4:27, so if you tuned in late, my apologies.
In the wake of Sunday’s Facebook article, e.politics is going into orbit this afternoon — the folks behind XM satellite radio’s POTUS ’08 channel emailed this morning to line up 15 minutes to talk about the social networking site as a political tool. Is there nothing sacred in this world? Will the airwaves (and the children, the poor, poor children) ever be safe again? Should be fun — if you have an XM subscription, tune in around 4:30 Eastern.
Media criticism in context: “Yes, it would be nice if the press spent less time on inanities and more time on how candidates planned to actually run the country. But this view of the media is just too simplistic.” Via Salon.
So, if the Indiana and North Carolina results mean that the Democratic primary process is truly almost over, how will we spend our time? And more importantly, how with the cable news people spend their time? The networks have created enormous structures based around breathless coverage of developments ranging from the mundane to the trivial, and now there will be a distinct shortage of grist for the mill. These folks will now have all kinds of time to make mischief, i.e., elevate things even MORE meaningless into the heights of the public discourse. Cable news too often illustrates the truism that more is not always better…better shoot your television now.
Yesterday, e.politics saw by far the most articles read via RSS on a single day ever, according to Feedburner. Analysis: sounds like everybody else was up late waiting for Lake County, Indiana, too. At least you guys could kill time better than the poor bastards stuck on camera — hours of nothing were a cable news producer’s nightmare. Though I gotta get me one those wall-sized touchscreen video displays with a Google Earth overlay like John King was using on CNN — that’ll impress the chicks, buh-lieve you me.
The folks at Slate have embraced widgets with a vengeance this year. Well, if you were Clinton or Obama, you’d certainly think of their widgets as being on the vengeful side of things. First there was the Obamafier, a fun take on the Obamamania that seemed to be sweeping the nation a couple of months ago (now…?). The latest widget from “the online magazine for the smarty-pants set” takes their popular Hillary Clinton Deathwatch feature (successor the the Aberto Gonzalez Deathwatch, among others) and makes it portable, so you can put it on your Facebook profile, MySpace page, etc. Why not install it now, while you’re waiting for results from Indiana and North Cackalackie? Go ahead, I dare you.
I’d planned to make the Deathwatch widget last week’s Friday Fun episode, but when my friend Rich MacKinnon installed it on his Facebook page, it started streaming porn images (bonus!) and I put it off until we knew more. He even wrote the incident up for Slashdot, but perhaps it was an isolated event, because he got no Slashdot traction and when I got ’round to installing the critter on Facebook and e.politics today, no such luck for me (damn). Give it a try and see what you find, though…you cain’t hardly GET enough porn on that there interweb, I tell you what.
Read Scott Martin continues doing yeoman’s work over at his political Ad of the Day site, and with Indiana and North Carolina in mind, take a look at how Obama’s been pushing voter turnout. His paid search ads on “Indiana primary,” for instance, have been pushing early voting in the state, while Clinton’s are generic and point to her main website. Also, check out the display ads each is running: again, Obama’s ads are focused on helping people get to the polls, while Clinton’s are general fundraising spots. As in other examples of his online campaigning, Obama’s strategy is more focused than Clinton’s and also more of-the-moment. How much it helps, we’ll know soon.
Freed from the pressure to win votes immediately, McCain can sit back and work on differentiating himself from the Dems — well, at least from Obama. His online display ads are hitting the gas tax moratorium hard, with a petition for list-building. Thinking about the Fall? Not a luxury the Dems can afford much of, at least for another agonizing month.
Yesterday’s Facebook article generated some fantastic comments both here and on the techPresident version, with plenty of things to chew on for a while, and you guys are crazy if you miss out on them. So, let’s gather ‘em up in one easy bundle and take ‘em on home.
I hate to risk alienating my new BFF Mark Zuckerberg, but has Facebook’s moment in the sun as a hot political tool passed? And if so, what does that tell us about the future of social networking sites for online political organizing, and even about the future of Facebook itself?
We’ve now seen more than a year of intense use of social networking sites by the U.S. presidential campaigns (and even longer use by issue-advocacy groups), which gives us a solid base of information and experience to judge just how effective Facebook is as a political tool — both for organized political campaigns and advocacy groups and for individual political activists. The verdict? Facebook has not lived up to a lot of its initial political hype, and for reasons that are perfectly natural considering what kind of a site it is. The crux: