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Thursday, April 26, 2007

Who are We Selling Ourselves to?

This is a rather interesting article I found today from the Long Island Press. Is this who your candidate is supporting?


Candidates Gone Wild
Essay By Robbie Woliver, News Story By Michael M. Martino Jr. 04/26/2007 10:59 am
Essay By Robbie Woliver

John McCain approves of sexy Nazi girls? John Edwards supports Satanists? Mitt Romney endorses casual sex? Well, if you’re a visitor to YouTube, that’s what these presidential candidates’ ads might be unintentionally leading you to believe.
John Edwards is all about new technology. The Democratic senator from South Carolina announced his candidacy for the presidency in a YouTube video filmed in New Orleans’ storm-ravaged Ninth Ward. He has utilized the expertise of people like Jed Alpert, CEO of Rights Group/Mobile Commons, who specialize in targeting mobile phones with text messages. (Hey, it worked when Alpert did it for Britney Spears—why not for the next president of the United States?) Edwards has also joined millions of potential 20- and 30-something voters—along with millions of teenage girls across America—by setting up his own MySpace account: johnedwards, fan of Bruce Springsteen, The Shawshank Redemption, running, reading and writing. Ew. Not 2 kewl.
And now, as part of YouTube YouChoose Spotlight ’08, Romney, McCain and Edwards offer their smiling faces, beaming right above such video titles as "Uncle Adolph and the Sexi Nazi Girls," "How to Get Laid at an Anti-Abortion Rally" and "N**gers, Nappy-Headed Hos & Booty Shaking," along with other headlines and videos touting everything from Satan worshipping to smoking crack to joining the KKK.
Any sensible person will know that Edwards and the other candidates don’t actually support—at least publicly—farting in public, anal bleaching and beating up bums for the camera. So why are these Oval Office hopefuls gracing these pages at all? How did these astute presidential candidates—who are trying to convince the American people that they have the smarts to run the country—allow this to happen? Simple: stupid campaigning.
Edwards was probably thrilled when he gave the final sign-off on the Spotlight ’08 campaign. After all, he was in good company—the GOP’s Romney was the candidate the week prior to Edwards (then imagine the gasps from the conservative Republican’s fellow Mormons who saw his banner crowning the "Polygamy and Me" preview page). Fellow candidates Rudy Giuliani, Sen. Hillary Clinton, Sen. Barack Obama, Sen. Chris Dodd, Rep. Duncan Hunter, Rep. Dennis Kucinich, Rep. Ron Paul, and Gov. Bill Richardson are all signed up to be spotlighted for one week each. McCain’s ads started appearing around 9 p.m. on Wednesday, April 25.
If the rest of the candidates go through with this, here is what we can expect: Giuliani heading the "Dedication to the Catholic Church by NAMBLA" page (NAMBLA is the North American Man-Boy Love Association); Hillary grinning atop the "Hillary Clinton vs. Monica Lewinsky Celebrity Deathmatch" page; and even Obama overseeing "Be a Man and Join the Ku Klux Klan" page. Imagine how viral those pages could get. It could—no, will—happen if they continue with the YouTube’08 campaign, unless these campaigns get their act together and pay attention to the details and understand the environment they have chosen to reach these voters.
So from his YouTube and MySpace profiles, we learn that Edwards loves classic rock, some sports and Morgan Freeman movies. He has 23,851 friends, including I’M 4-EVER HIS and Mr. Blonde (a reference to Quentin Tarantino’s Reservoir Dogs). But most importantly, we learn that Edwards, Romney and the others who signed on to this youth-driven awareness campaign know very little about the contemporary media that they seem so interested in embracing.
Besides the embarrassment of the implied endorsement of the various activities captured on the YouTube videos and their glaring and oft-salacious headlines, all displayed under a proud, dominant all-American campaign banner, the reality that these guys are treading in unfamiliar waters is exposed, demonstrating their inexperience more than their genuine skills as members of the technorati. LOL.

Are Candidates Out Of Touch With Campaigning 2.0?News Story By Michael M. Martino Jr.
There is no question that the Internet will play a bigger role in the 2008 presidential election than it has in any prior election. Some of the most popular sites on the Web have jumped into the fray. On April 12, YouTube announced the kick-off of its "YouChoose’08" campaign, designed to feature every 2008 presidential candidate on virtually every page of video on the site. Maybe the candidates and the people at YouTube were a little too hasty.
An investigation by the Long Island Press has found that the links to the week’s featured candidate’s YouTube channel are visible on page after page of YouTube videos, no matter the title or subject matter of the videos uploaded to the site, making it appear to the viewer that the page is wholly sponsored by the candidate. For example, the banner ad of this week’s featured candidate John Edwards is placed about an inch above such videos as "Black Girls Gone Wild" and "Crazy Asian Porn."
Despite the implications, some candidates have decided not to pull the plug. In a case of very bad timing, Arizona Sen. John McCain, hours after announcing his official candidacy, is scheduled to be the featured YouChoose candidate, a decision McCain’s people say they are comfortable with, despite the information provided by the Press.
"YouTube is a new phenomenon," says Matt David, spokesperson for the campaign. "As such, sometimes it will be harmful and sometimes it will be helpful."
But after the campaign was made aware of the banner placements after they were actually posted, David finally responded, "We’re looking into the situation."
While many of the videos themselves are nothing more than spoofs, the titles can pack a punch.
"Rarely do presidential candidates have the chance to communicate with such a large number of voters and directly solicit their ideas and their input," said Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney in a statement announcing the YouTube initiative on April 12. "I’m looking forward to interacting with this engaged community of people about the new generation of challenges confronting our nation."
After learning of the ill-placed ads, a source with the Romney campaign, who was not familiar with the content that would run below his candidate’s banner, told the Press, "Most people will recognize that the ad is created by YouTube, and that any placement on the site is coincidental."
While no reasonable person would be expected to think these candidates endorse or intentionally choose these inappropriate pages, the potential for embarrassment is certainly there. Campaigns are very frail by nature, and one weird step—for example, Howard Dean’s overenthusiastic speech in 2004—can completely derail a presidential bid. The way the YouChoose’08 campaign is set up, Sen. Barack Obama’s photo could very well be one inch away from a video that is pro-Ku Klux Klan, as were the photos of Romney, Edwards and McCain. Why they would want to remain associated with such content is beyond some people.
"I suspect that the obvious problem for the candidate is that the opponent can publicize what most people would consider his ad on inappropriate sites," says Stanley Feldman, professor of political science at SUNY Stony Brook. "The candidate whose banner ad appeared would need to explain why their ad is there. It would be an uncomfortable issue for the candidate."
Political flacks see the benefits of the Internet, but the dangers loom large.
"As a consultant, I would advise all of my candidates to take advantage of the opportunities the Internet affords us, including MySpace and YouTube," says Anthony Manetta, a New York campaign consultant. "That increases your visibility, your profile, and also, you tap into a certain demographic, younger generations of voters."
But he understands the need for vigilance.
"I would call on the campaign to be more diligent in terms of where they are placing their advertisement," says Manetta.
In speaking with several ’08 campaign sources, it was obvious that the news of the ad placement came as a shock to most, especially the McCain campaign, which was notified by the Press minutes after the senator’s announcement speech. But despite the information, the campaign will move forward. One highly placed campaign source from another camp said, "This is not good," when informed of the situation.
After the Press informed YouTube about the problem, the banner began disappearing from some pages, and was replaced for a time by an alternate banner, including a generic YouChoose link that took the visitor to a master page with all the candidates’ YouTube channels. A YouTube spokesperson said, "No comment," when asked if the situation was being addressed.
Now that YouTube and some of the campaigns have been notified, the situation maychange quickly. But for Romney, Edwards and McCain, the damage may already have been done

This is quite interesting. I, for one, had noticed what was appearing there, but hadn't given much thought to it. Is that because we are so dumbed down that we it just appears as an afterthought after the days of Mtv's Rock the Vote alongside that of Sir Mixalot?

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Fred Thompson

Fred Thompson
Former U.S. Senator (R-TN)