My new PrezVid Show grades the candidates‘ latest videos.
Breaking news over at Prezvid: ParkRidge47 makes his next video, an interview on YouTube.
TechPresident’s Joshua Levy does an excellent job showing that Barack Obama’s huge numbers on YouTube are likely gamed and inflated. And this makes me wonder whether his MySpace numbers are similarly manufactured. Add this to the anonymous anti-Hillary video made by a political operative and you get a disturbing, or at least unflattering, picture of some of Obama’s supporters. Some are trying to hack his campaign for him.
No one is saying that Obama’s staff is doing this. But it could hurt him nonetheless. That anti-Hillary commercial, coming from a hidden source, smelled of a dirty trick. Somebody’s engineering lies about at least his YouTube viewership. People will wonder how much of his buzz is elusive, the effort to goose it even desperate. See Peter Hauck’s post below asking whether the honeymoon is waning. Remember, too, the unwelcome attitude many in Iowa had to the invasion by hordes of Deaniacs with accents from elsewhere. It may be easy to hack a campaign, but I doubt whether it will be effective.
Last week in California, I was talking with some people who know about these things and they thought the Obama’s numbers were bogus but didn’t yet know how to prove it. TechPresident’s Levy shows how the number of visitors and views just don’t match up. The clearest evidence of fishiness is all this is TechPresident’s own YouTube chart, which they acknowledge looks darned suspicious:
But there’s a problem with all these numbers even if they aren’t bald-faced lies. We are so accustomed to the horse-race story in politics, the narrative media loves to push, that we are in a constant hunt for new numbers and new charts that tell that tale. Beware internet numbers, though. This is not a mass medium. It is a mass of niches. And even the biggest numbers are necessarily small. It’s the sum of all those small numbers that is huge. In other words, this is not a medium of winners and losers but of coalitions. Last week, amidst the Hillary 1984 commercial kefuffle, a half-dozen reporters called me working on the exact same story (which indicates a problem with reporting, but that’s a subject for another blog), and one of them asked whether the number of negative Hillary videos on YouTube indicated a loss of momentum for her (Mo is their favorite angle in the horse-race story). I laughed, which was more polite than scoffing with scorn. One person can make 10 anti-anybody videos. A hundred can make a thousand. And all that indicates is the thinking of 100 people, not the mood and mo of the nation. The numbers of views is similarly misleading, if you let them be: I watched the Hillary commercial because it was entertaining and being talked about, not because I agreed with it. No, the press hates this, but there’s only one number that matters — the election-day tally, of course — and that’s the one scoop they can’t have; it’s ours. So whether they’re gamed or not, view all these internet tallies with suspicion. They are for entertainment only, no wagering or governing with them allowed.
(Crossposted from PrezVid.)
I talked with Arianna Huffington tonight and asked how she got her scoop revealing who made the Hillary 1984 attack commercial. It was a true case of networked, bottoms-up journalism.
While the rest of media was tripping over themselves to do the same story of the Hillary ad, weeks after it came out, and idly wondering who made it, Arianna dispatched her troops to do real reporting. She said about 30 people were involved at first, making phone calls and digging into what they knew, debunking some leads and following others. Finally, it came down to contacts and a little technology. Arianna said that YouTube revealed nothing about the video’s maker or his account. But the guy apparently left some turkey tracks with his email. And a Huffpo person knew someone who knew someone — and so on — who confirmed the identity of the mysterious video man, Phil De Vellis.
Then Arianna called him. She said he was genuinely surprised and thought he would never be unmasked. She offered him the chance to write a post about what he did and why. After some delay — when he apparently dealt with his employers and become a former employee — he came back and delivered that post.
Arianna is admiring of him. She said he put out a message without any desire for fame. She says he told no lies in the ad.
I look at it differently. I think he hid, the chicken, behind online anonymity. It’s also quite possible that he did his man Obama no favors, as some will think the candidate made this and will think less of him for starting the attacks so early.
But Arianna and I agree that the campaigns, which are all about control, are going to be less and less in control as more people use YouTube and the internet to get their own messages out.
(Crossposted at PrezVid.)
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.