Details on the CNN/YouTube Presidential Debate

New details emerged today about the CNN/YouTube-sponsored Democratic presidential debate, to be held on July 23rd in South Carolina. Some salient points:

  • No live panel of questioners, only Anderson Cooper as moderator.
  • Questions will come from videos submitted to a YouTube channel.
  • Questions may be directed at a particular candidate or asked generally of everyone on stage.
  • The debate organizers are encouraging the use of sound and graphics to create a rich media experience for each question. They’re hoping for presentations that are “creative and inventive,” and for the videos to provide real context for the questions.
  • Submitted questions will be visible on YouTube, though the debate organizers aren’t going to tip candidates and the public off about which ones will be chosen. As with normal YouTube videos, viewers will be able to leave comments, rate videos, etc.
  • Anderson Cooper will be able to ask questions directly if new issues burst into prominence between the end of the submission period and the beginning of the debate. I.e., the debate won’t be strictly limited only to the YouTube questions.
  • Update: the debate organizers expect to use 20-30 questions in total.

In a call this morning, CNN’s David Bohrman described the new format as the “most democratic of all possible structures,” since anyone in the country has the chance to ask a question of a possible next president. TechPresident’s Micah Sifry was a little skeptical of how transformative the debate format will be, since citizens have been asking questions of candidates in townhall-style debates for years, but the organizers believe that opening the process up to more people than just those selected to be in a single auditorium WILL make a significant difference.

For more, see the main debate page on YouTube. You can also see this video presentation by Anderson Cooper and YouTube’s Steve Grove and some sample questions put together by the debate organizers (thanks again, Josh).

All right kids, let’s crank up the video-editing software and come up with some real gems — alas, no obscenity allowed. Regardless, this should turn out to be a total freakshow/free-for-all, and some of the questions NOT chosen are likely to be the most interesting (i.e., bizarre) of all.

More on this from the NY Times. See also The CNN/YouTube Debate: Make it Truly Open.


Written by
Colin Delany
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