Posts about campaign

NBC’s shame, continued

The Democratic debate on MSNBC is like a game of Pong: 60 seconds “answers,” bang, bang, bang. I’m a fast talker and this is exhausting me. I tried to watch the thing on but instead got stories about Hugh Grant throwing baked beans and an two Indian chickens with seven feet plus about six commercials. They have links to the debate online, but no debate. Apparently, NBC doesn’t think the internet and its millions matter.

: I got email from an NBCU vice-president, who refused to go on the record, I don’t know why. So I can’t tell you what he said. But I’ll tell you what I said back:

Well, why don’t you break that chain?
I am trying very hard to watch it online now and I’ll be damned if I can find the way. You want to send me the link?
And this is not just about watching. It is about remixing, commenting. What makes NBC think it can own this debate? That is offensive hubris. It is downright undemocratic, unAmerican. You want to mean what you say? Then open up the debates for us all to use. Now.
If it’s so “regrettable,” then change it. You can. Do it. Get on the phone with Capus and I’ll announce it and praise you for the move.
My comments are on the record.

It’s painfully clear that NBC doesn’t understand the internet and its role in in.

: I see in the comments that some can watch the debate on the internet. I have reinstalled every bit of software and can’t. They are making it damned difficult.

: The Washington Post has been liveblogging the debate at The Fix.

: AFTERWARDS: It all went by so fast, what I most want is the opportunity to watch the bits that went by in 60-second flashes with commentary from the people. That is why I want this on the internet with many perspectives.

: HERE’S what I wish NBC would have done with the debate online:

* Make every 60-second answer a separate video so we can watch and actually absorb them.

* Put everything up on YouTube so we can embed them in our blogs with our commentary.

* Enable us to download and remix the questions and answers so we can compare and contrast them.

* Create a page that has all the questions and answers organized so we can see what every candidate, Democratic and Republican, has to say.

PrezVid MSM Syncometer: Out of touch on Obama

The latest Gallup poll shows Hillary Clinton solidly ahead — and rising — in the Democratic race. Yet as Politico points out, if you listen to “the developing media storyline” it’s Obama who has the surging mo’. And if you listen to the self-declared net roots in blogs, you’d believe that Hillary is sinking fast.

So we here at PrezVid decided to quantify this gap by measuring coverage of Clinton and Obama in news media overall, in major MSM outlets, in blogs, and in the Democratic netroots. It’s our first PrezVid Syncometer. So how out of sync are they? About as out of sync as Sanjaya.

We start with the Gallup poll:


Note Clinton’s wide lead and Obama’s slight dip. Her lead only widens without Gore in the race:


Says Gallup:

Sen. Hillary Clinton remains the dominant presidential front-runner among Democrats nationally, with twice the support as her nearest challenger. Sen. Barack Obama, former Sen. John Edwards, and former Vice President Al Gore are tightly bunched in second place, with all other candidates in low single digits. If Gore is removed from the ballot and his supporters’ second-place choices substituted, Clinton’s lead becomes even more dominant, with Obama and Edwards tied far behind.

These data were collected April 2-5, just as reports of Obama’s first-quarter fundraising success were made public. The survey results suggest that while Obama may have had a great deal of financial momentum in the past quarter, it was not matched by any increase in voter support. . . .

The trend for Obama has been relatively static. The Illinois senator ends up in this latest April poll essentially where he was last January; Obama gets exactly half of the vote given to Clinton.

That sure doesn’t seem to be the story we hear from media, does it? Let’s see:

Now we go to GoogleNews and search on the two leaders. Over the last 30 days, it returns:
Hillary Clinton: 8,908 articles
Barack Obama: 13,992 articles
So media as a whole give Obama the mo’.

Well, what about the biggest, most sophisticated outlets of political coverage in America? Same search over the last 30 days yields this at the New York Times:
Hillary Clinton: 28 articles
Barack Obama: 95 articles

And at the Washington Post:
Hillary Clinton: 108 articles
Barack Obama: 252 articles

Obviously, these searches operate differently. But the relative results are the same. The mo’ won’t quit.

The troubled LA Times, however, stands apart:
Hillary Clinton: 77
Barack Obama: 69

So let’s go to the blogosphere. According to Blogpulse, the coverage and comment for the two candidates is at least even-handed:


And finally, let’s check the netroots. MyDD, a leading blog, just held its straw poll. The results:


Clinton in fourth. Way, way behind. Boy, those results don’t look like those from Gallup — from the real voters. At the Politics Online conference in Washington a few weeks ago, I remember one of the many pundits there arguing that Hillary has no grass roots support and momentum because you can’t find it in the blogosphere. Well, maybe in one blog.

(Crossposted from PrezVid)

YouTube, campaign ads, and local TV

Below, David Johnson leaves a provocative comment on the impact of YouTube on local TV stations if and when political advertising migrates online:

there’s a big elephant in the room on viral video for politics. youtube could be for local broadcast what craigslist is for newspapers. most local broadcast stations desperately need political advertising to stay in the black. if the advertising pie doesn’t expand and dollars are shifted out of mainstream broadcast to online — as we’re seeing elsewhere already among major advertisers — this could have a serious impact on bottom lines at struggling affiliates.

Local affiliates are already facing a bleaker future than they’ll breath out loud because when the internet grows to become the dominant means of distribution, their value as distributors only shrinks. I hadn’t thought of political advertising as their Craigs List but I think he has a point. All political advertising won’t migrate online yet because the audience on broadcast is bigger and campaigns are inherently conservative. But there will be a point of no return.

(Crossposted from PrezVid)

Online Politics: Web teams

I’m at the Online Politics confab in D.C. The first panel was about software and services and campaigns. Not my shtick. Now there’s a panel about building a web team with Joe Trippi, Jerome Armstrong of MyDD, Patrick Ruffini (now with Giuliani), Chuck DeFeo of, and Chuck Todd as moderator. Much talk about the YouTube campaign. Sporadic liveblogging:

Ruffini says that the ’08 campaign is making big progress in “leading with the web” with announcements — that is, all their YouTube videos. He suggests making big events offline big events online. Todd says he’s impressed with Mitt TV and asks DeFeo to critique it. DeFeo says that what the Romney campaign is doing with online video is very smart. He recalls the macaca moment and the dead-in-the-water Allen campaign. When Macaca happened, he asks rhetorically, “What should they have done? They should have flooded the zone.” That is, when people came in and searched “macaca,” they should have found a lot of videos from the campaign. “Instead, they left the platform open for that macaca moment.” In contrast, the Romney campaign responded to a critical video with video of its own.

Trippi, asked what he thinks of Hillcasts and such, recalls doing Dean TV 24/7. “The significant difference is the authenticity of what we put up vs. what they’re doing now… My big complaint with Mitt TV, Hillscasts, etc, is that it’s scripted.” He recalls a moment in Iowa — a story I’ve heard before — when a student told Dean that he was skipping a final to see the candidate but the candidate switched to dad mode and insisted that the kid go take his test. It made great and authentic video, Trippi says, and he marks it as a significant moment in the campaign online.

Would you videotape every moment? “Absolutely,” says Tripp. He mentions the cost of travel but he wants two kids with cams following the candidate. Ruffini says recording everything is “a smart idea and it’s a way of innoculating against” the gaffe.

Trippi: “Every one of these candidates is going to get caught in a macaca moment.” They’re going to walk into a fundraiser thinking it’s off-the-record and say something. Todd remembers Bill Clinton saying that he made a mistake raising taxes so much and that these days, could end up on YouTube (though he then speculates that that might have raised Clinton’s approval rating by 20 points).

Armstrong said he had someone following Warner all the time. The candidates need to get over an awkwardness that comes with this. “They think when the camera goes on, they’re live to 300,000 to a million people. They’re not used to having the conversation one on one.” He says it is also demanding of resources: a shooter, an editor, a communications person to approve what goes up. DeFeo reminds him that Mac editing is damned cheap and anyone can do it. (See, again, the David Cameron operation in London with two people.)

Trippi says all the video that that came in went up automatically unless someone was running naked across the screen or there was hate speech. They didn’t put the usual filters across it.

Armstrong says all this will eventually make the candidates better.

DeFeo says that there have been video trackers around campaigns for 20 years but they never saw that tape; it ended up on the cutting-room floor outside a focus-group room. “With YouTube you have a giant focus group and you can just put it up.” And see what sticks. Ruffini says the old days of campaigns were about controlling message. Now it’s about putting it out there and, again, seeing what sticks.

Todd says, by way of example, that the owner of the Washington Redskins has hired its own journalists. “In the sports world, this has become a very accepted thing.” He asks how close we are to campaigns to hiring their own journalists on staff — not press staff but journalists. Trippi says he knows of one campaign that’s about to do that, hiring a journalist to disseminate their story. So it’s not a press release. It goes up on GoogleNews or on YouTube as a video news story. Todd says he knows of another that plans to do that. Campaigns, he said, are starting to see that they don’t mean mainstream media as much as MSM needs them.

Armstrong points to the video announcements online, “very controlled, very scripted, without a reporter in the room.” It’s a way around MSM.

Todd asks: “Bloggers, hire them or co-opt them?” Of course, he raises the story of the Edwards’ campaign’s controversial bloggers. Ruffini says that campaign blogging is different from “regular political blogging.” He says you can’t necessarily transfer the success of blogging to campaign blogging. He says the technology world has evolved into a better model — e.g., Scoble when he was in Microsoft with is own blog and voice but still part of the company and transparent about their biases. He says that if you take a successful blogger and put them on a campaign web site, “you’re going to lose some element of credibility…. Where does the campaign stop and the blogger begin?”

Armstrong — who has been in both positions — says it’s a fluid situation and he has changed his position. He says it is difficult to go from the blogosphere to a campaign. He mostly hires bloggers “who have no history.” He says a blogger with history can’t adapt that voice to a campaign. He says that Trippi hired that way: Zephyr Teachout was not a blogger; they hired Jerome not to blog. Trippi argues that, like campaign workers, bloggers for candidates can switch candidates and thus stands on issues. “There has to be some give there at some point.” That has been my argument about the fading lines in this world: Your audience (public, community…) has to know where you’re coming from: Are you a journalist, an advocate for a candidate, an advocate for an issue; what’s your priority? Tripp agrees that really established bloggers won’t work in campaigns.

Todd says that the Democratic web and blog strategy is ahead; DeFeo disagrees with that perception and says the conservative web is made up of more individuals while the liberal web is built up around larger, “top-down” sites like Kos and Talking Points Memo. Armstrong disagrees in turn and says there is much action on the left locally. DeFeo disagrees in turn and points to Town Hall’s local blogs. Catfight. Catfight.

Trippi says that in the last election, the Democratic campaigns had different needs than the Republicans. Start with money. He says we’ll see “a big maturing thing happening this cycle.” He says that if Hillary gave a good speech, “the Daily Kos is just not a good place to go say that, it’s not comfortable.” So, he argues, that the people who like Hillary will create their own Kos. “I think you’ll see a broadening of the progressive side with more blogs.” (See my column about the political nature of the internet and the ability for people of similar views to find each other and coalesce.) Todd equates Rush and Kos as spokesman for their ends, driving message.

There’s talk about mobile and games and other new stuff. One panelist says there’s a cost-benefit analysis a campaign has to do. Trippi says that the Dean campaign just asked its fans to make those things themselves. That is the right way to think. Open.

Henry Copeland of Blogads asks the panel to speculate what the technology and moment and person will be that changes politics in this campaign. Armstrong says that someone will become the Walter Cronkite of online, mashing up video with a voice. Trippi says that money will explode; within weeks hundreds of millions of dollars will come in from people. “It totally changes the entire game, the big money, the PACs don’t matter anymore… It’s gonna be like a flood.” DeFeo agrees that the volume of contributors will explode. He says that we are still waiting for that moment to arrive when we declare that the internet has dethroned television in campaigns. He believes that this will actually be a series of moments that add up. Ruffini says that online video is meeting a new meet; in the last campaign, you had to be a big guy to post an online video. No more.

Earlier: It’s interesting seeing this from the other end of the pipe. I’m used to looking at this from the media end; they’re looking at it from the spin end. Ruffini says the online campaign has to be integrated into all parts of the campaign. (Same message we’re hearing in media today.) Trippi agrees that there shouldn’t be a wall. At the Dean campaign, he said, the web team was right outside his office so if you wanted to get to him, you had to go through them. (Maybe editors should surround themselves with web folk.) Trippi raises questions about the Clinton campaign using a letter signed by Madeleine Albright for fundraising and wonders how that decision was made. Armstrong says that too often, material raised for the offline campaign is merely repurposed rather than rethought for online. (Yet another media parallel.) DeFeo says that campaigns are bad R&D environments.

(Crossposted at PrezVid.)

John Edwards on YouuuuTuuuube

So John Edwards announced his presidential announcement on YouTube in a video made by Andrew Baron and Joanne Colan of Rocketboom (who put up their own interview the next day) and Chuck Olsen (who, Andrew reports, is flying with Edwards to make video for the official campaign site). The digital cool doesn’t end there. Edwards tells you to text the word “hope” to a given number to get more instructions; how mobile. As NewTeeVee reports, he has Robert Scoble trailing around with a camera as well. He’s “live-bloggin” (their usage, not the usual meaning) at Daily Kos. He’s trying to create is own sort of Peace Corps called One Corps with people signing up online to do good deeds under his brand (they will “fight poverty” and, oh, while they’re at it, flog candidates who “support One America ideals’ [that was the old name of this campaign effort] and spread the word by calling radio stations). And tonight he’s having an online town hall from Iowa.

How cyber can you get?

Is this all just a publicity stunt to look modern and cool or is this a turning point in how campaigns are run? We’ll know in about a decade.

From a media perspective, Edwards got to put his message out there without reporters and gatekeepers. It didn’t get out far without them, though; this morning, he had fewer than 10,000 views on YouTube. I also wish there had been reporters there who’d pushed him on his answers. Instead, we get his platitudinous and oprahesque message: It’s about change — it’s always about change. “We have to accept responsibility. We have to change the country.” Why? How? He gets to put up his own “news” and interviews with himself: “I actually want the country to see who I am, who I truly am. . . . I’d rather be successful or unsuccessful based on who I really am not based on some plastic Ken doll you put up in front of audiences.” Then again, his video lives in a space of other Edwards moments: We see Ken John getting made up in he feels pretty, for example, and we see Wal-Mart counterattack.

Will this campaign still be run by broadcast and cable TV and advertising? I fear so. But just as blogs are now simply part of the media landscape — read and used by journalists, pundits, and politicians — so will the video of campaigns be part of the fabric of campaigns: the candidates’ own statements, their own embarrassing moments, and more.