Educating Ezra Klein

A mostly political Weblog.
Aug. 7 2007 2:14 AM

Educating Ezra Klein

A left whippersnapper tutored by his readers about teachers' unions.

(Continued from Page 14)

Mort is Deadly: Gawker's Alex Balk on New York Daily News owner Mort Zuckerman, profiled in the current New Yorker:

It's telling that Zuckerman only seems interesting in the pages of the New York Post, which has a vested interest in making its rival look bad.

1:53 A.M. link

Monday, July 16, 2007

Is CNN blowing it? Next Monday, CNN will  hold the first of two "CNN/YouTube" debates. It "will feature video questions submitted to YouTube which will be broadcast and answered" by the Democratic candidates for president.

"YouTube enables voters and candidates to communicate in a way that simply was not possible during the last election," said Chad Hurley, CEO and co-founder of YouTube. ...

"These debates take the bold step of embracing the ever-increasing role of the Internet in politics," Jim Walton, CNN Worldwide president.

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Yeah, yeah. But the CNN debate, as currently planned, completely misses what's so innovative and subversive about YouTube--namely the ability of average citizens to put political messages before millions of potential voters without the approval of MSM gatekeepers. Who decided that "Obama Girl" would be a huge hit? Nobody. Or, rather, the cumulative decisions of hundreds of thousands of You Tube users. The choice was largely out of the hands of those who traditionally decide what voters get to hear about candidates: editors of daily newspapers, producers of nightly newscasts, professional campaign consultants. The phenomenon rightly alarms the consultants, at least, who now have to worry that a popular amateur video could rise up and bite them at any moment. (See Edwards, John, "Feeling Pretty.") It's all too ... uncontrolled.

So who will decide which 30-second YouTube "video questions" get broadcast on Monday?

CNN will produce the televised events and will select the questions used in the debates. [E.A.]

Kind of misses the point, doesn't it? Instead of being spontaneously and uncontrollably selected by Web democracy, the YouTube questions will be safely filtered through the predictable, respectable sensibilities of CNN editors. They'll be not much different from the queries traditionally sent to the front of the room on index cards--just in video form. Sure, the questions will be asked by "voters from around the country," but debates have been accepting (filtered) email questions for years, no?

You can view the three video questions CNN's editors have already chosen as samples. They're safe and easily answered queries about discrete issues--glorified index cards.** It looks like a long evening.

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