When he started his web site, John McCain — to his credit — invited voters to send him questions via YouTube. But after scouring YouTube for videos tagged “mccain,” we couldn’t find a single question. So as not to make the senator feel too lonely in YouTube, I have three questions of my own that I don’t see answered on his site or in his videos:
I urge you all to leave your questions for every one of the candidates. Tag them with the candidate’s name and PREZCONFERENCE and we’ll share the best here . . . and see which questions the candidates answer, and which ones they don’t.
McCain’s videos may be ready for prime time, but not for YouTube. He doesn’t speak directly to those of us who are clicking; he speaks off-camera, as if this were an interview, or he speaks through music and polished production, as if this the video were intended for the giant screens at a nominating convention. He doesn’t yet understand that this is a conversation, one-on-one. He appears on an antiseptic, white background, nothing like the homey atmospherics of other candidates’ videos; it’s as if he’s trying out for Star Wars, not the White House.
But McCain has one good idea: He solicits questions for his virtual town hall via YouTube. This means that — unlike in Hillary Clinton’s tete-a-tetes — we will get to see which questions he has the guts to answer and which not. I wonder whether they realized that.
: Since one of you asked in the comments, the embed code for the video is here (under “share”).
And, damn, I wish I’d thought of Tim Shey’s line from the comments:
At one point, it looked like he was about to say, “and I’m a PC.”
: LATER: * To embed this video on your blog (please) cut-and-paste this code:
I’m appearing on CNN Sunday at 7:30 to talk about the YouTube campaign with, I believe, Robert Greenwald, co-creator of The Real McCain, an internet video show and site that aims to show John McCain’s inconsistencies. I made a little video about it and the trend we are sure to see this season with the inconsistency police nabbing politicians on their flip-flops, namby-pambying, pandering, and lies. This is all the more powerful when seen on video and all the more possible because everything a candidate does will end up on video. As I say at the start of my video, in 2001, grandpappy blogger Ken Layne famously warned media that “we can fact-check your ass.” And now, with The Real McCain, YouTubers warn politicians that their asses are getting fact-checked, too. Here’s my piece:
Here’s the devastating video by Greenwald and Cliff Schechter:
There’s tremendous power here. With Outfoxed, his movie about Fox News, and his latest film about Wal-Mart, Greenwald learned the power of viral distribution — and that was before YouTube. Now he can get his story spread far and wide by sympathetic voters on the internet. As of today, the McCain video has had 155,000 views on YouTube — that’s the size of the audience for an MSBNC show — not to mention coverage in papers and on TV. This is a powerful, demonstrative, visible tool. Cliff Schecter — who blogs at CliffSchecter.com — writes on Huffington Post:
We don’t have FoxNews. We don’t have Rush Limbaugh (which at least means less progressive cash spent on buckets of honey-glazed wings and Schedule IV narcotics). But we have something almost as powerful, if recent events tell an accurate story. We have synergy. Coordination. Call it what you will.
I found it curious that Greenwald and Schecter as Democrats were going after a Republican already. So I emailed them to ask why. Is it to show that McCain isn’t the moderate the press paints him to be? Is it to get rid of the moderate and force the Republicans farther to the unelectable right? Schecter — who, it turns out, is writing a book about McCain — responded:
I chose McCain . . . very simply, because his level of hypocrisy rises above that of all the others, whether Democrat or Republican. He runs on the fact that he is a “maverick” a “straight talker” a “principled independent.” It is simply not true.
He has switched positions on Bush’s tax cuts, the number of troops needed in Iraq, evolution, ethanol subsidies, Jerry Falwell as an “agent of intolerance,” lobbying reform, even recently on campaign finance reform (presidential matching funds). . . .
I decided it was incumbent upon me to do this, because he is handled with such kid gloves by the media–see Joe Klein’s most recent blog at Swampland, where he says nobody can argue that McCain has not been consistent on the war, something that could not be more false. In fact Chris Matthews has joked that the media is “McCain’s base.” Anybody who watches and reads the fawning coverage, knows this to be true.
I asked Greenwald what it took to do this. He said they did a lot of print research and then went looking for the video; most was not on YouTube. That will change through the campaign, I’ll bet. Greenwald says he’s getting tips from the public and he promises to do more.
Candidates, be warned: You will choke on your forked tongues.
: By the way, I’m going to be following the YouTube campaign in greater depth on a new blog and vlog. More on that later.
: I’m now told I’m appearing without Greenwald. Too bad.
: LATER: Greenwald emails that he’s not a Democrat but independent. Corrected. But as the bete noir of Fox News and Wal-Mart, I’ll just bet he’s not in the GOP inner circle.
: LATER STILL: Greenwald says that he has had 220k views on YouTube and on the RealMcCain site.
: Corrected: Yes, it’s “fact-check” not “check.” Thanks, correctors, for checking my checking.