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Rushed again

This is becoming a bad habit. We've been on Rush Limbaugh's show again in the discussion over the YouTube CNN debate and various Republicans' attempts to weasel out of it. In full:
RUSH: The controversy here over the Republicans not participating in the upcoming YouTube CNN debate has led to lots of discussion, as some people think the Republicans are going to have this backfire on them because you gotta go out there and you gotta face the people. If you're afraid to face the people, meaning the average Americans who upload their questions via video on YouTube, then you're acting cowardly and so forth. Note the Democrats, to this day are scared to death to go on Fox, you got Barack Obama and Hillary in a meaningless argument over which thug around the world they will talk to when, the fact is, neither of them has the guts to go on Fox News for a debate. But you don't hear that portrayed in the Drive-By Media. Now the Republicans say, "You know what, the office of the presidency is a little bit higher, has a little bit more prejudice than subjecting ourselves to questions from idiots dressed up as snowmen and so forth." Now they're saying it's going to backfire on them, and this was a discussion on CNN's Reliable Sources on Sunday with Howard Kurtz. He's talking with Jeff Jarvis, media critic. Kurtz says, "They were supposed to, or at least was tentatively scheduled, a Republican presidential debate with CNN YouTube format for September. Now a lot of the Republicans are expressing reservations, have scheduling problems. Do you think the Republicans are being aware of being questioned by people who submit their queries through YouTube?" JARVIS: I think they're revealing themselves to be a bunch of fraidy cats. The Republicans for some reason have not done as much on the interpret and YouTube as the Democrats have, though in Europe it's conservatives who are ahead on YouTube, so it's not a bias thing as Rush Limbaugh tried to insist this week. I think the Republicans were trying to find some way to weasel out of this, and they used scheduling excuses, bias excuses, dignity excuses, but I think it's going to come around. I'm going to bet it's going to happen, and because they can't avoid talking to us. RUSH: They are not trying to avoid talking to you. By the way, they're going to try to reschedule this thing for December, is what I'm hearing. I never said the Republicans shouldn't do it because of bias. We all know there's bias in the Drive-By Media. We all know that CNN's going to choose questions based on their agenda, based on what they get submitted to them. We know there's going to be bias. I suggested that it would be a rotten thing to do because it's demeaning to the office. It lowers the office to the level of the lowest common denominator of pop culture. This is being presented as some revolutionary new thing, and it's not. It's no different than having an audience in there that you stand around, you run around with a microphone, let 'em ask questions and so forth, and you know how well that goes, and you know that they have never turned over, CNN nor any network has never turned over totally a debate to people in the audience. They occasionally go to people in the audience, like the ponytailed guy in Richmond, Virginia, back in 1992 who wanted all those candidates to explain to him how they were going to treat us like their children and so forth, it was gag me with a spoon time on that. If I were these professional journalists, I'd be a little upset that I'm being aced out of this. The Drive-By Media is in enough trouble as it is without their prestige being put on the line here by claiming that the debate will be better with these yahoos sitting out there with these cameras submitting their stuff via upload to YouTube.

The GOP YouTube dance continues

Kit Seeyle at the NY Times blogs that the GOP YouTube debate may be moved to a new date because Giuliani and Romney complain that they have fundraising conflicts. And, no doubt, because of the uproar their finking out was causing. And by the way, if it's fundraising you care about, paying respect to the internet would pay back more than a hundred chicken dinners. LATER: The Washington Post's blogs now report that Romney might decide to participate. I bet the YouTube debate will happen with most or all of the candidates. They tried to back out but that just didn't work; it made them look like wimps. And now they're on the record with their trepidation about the network, the format, the videos all so they can continue to blame someone else if they don't come off well talking with the people.

Malkin to Republicans: Courage

Michele Malkin breaks from the emerging party line on the YouTube/CNN debate and tells her Republicans to buck up and not slink away. Sound Screen bite: "...don't run away from the CNN/YouTube debate like the Democrats ran away from Fox." And here's David All telling the Republicans to suck up their guts and go:

The GOP’s gigantic internet mistake

The Republicans are, I believe, making a gigantic mistake in running away, scared, from the internet. They're running away from voters -- and their money. The latest indication of their fear of the internet is their attempt to fink out on the YouTube/CNN Republican debate. The party line -- as we see from Rush and others -- is that YouTube is somehow biased. That's absurd. That would be like the Democrats saying that mail is biased because the Republicans made the first, best use of it. If internet video is biased it is a damned bad sign for the right and mighty strange considering the leading work done in the medium by the conservatives in the UK, France, and Germany. Hugh Hewitt frets that listening to YouTube will open up Republicans to cheap shots. That's merely convenient paranoia. They're looking for excuses to stay away from this dance. The Republicans are scared of the internet. They are scared of us. Giuliani has, as this blog as pointed out frequently, run away from the internet and interacting with voters there at every opportunity: It shows in his pathetic internet fundraising. Patrick Ruffini, former Giuliani internet guy (we can see why that's former) frets that the Republicans will be outraised by $100 million because of this attitude. Meanwhile, Mitt Romney is sniffing snottily at the quality of the questions on YouTube... from citizens. John McCain has been stiff and scared in his videos. Sam Brownback has hardly made any videos and the ones he has made are as stiff as a Kansas silo. The entire party has left the internet to Ron Paul. And he has taken it and run. In the end, this is not only short-sighted tactically but also essentially insulting to the American people. We are on the internt. Come talk with us. What, you're too scared to? Big, tough terrorists don't scare you but we do? Come on, boys, we don't bite. But we do vote.
* * *
MORE: The Republicans can't escape us. Remember that ABC News is going to use video questions from the people. Earlier posts about Rudy's digiphobia here, here, here. Andrew Sullivan echoes the sentiment here. This is Josh Marshall's take. Here's Ana Marie Cox' reporting. * YET MORE: TechPresidents looks at the data and finds that YouTube is more Republican than Democrat:
According to comScore, YouTube actually attracts more Republicans than Democrats. Specifically, there are 3.3 million self-identified Republicans on the user-generated video site versus 3.1 million Democrats. (An addition 5 million consider themselves independent.) Digging a bit deeper, it seems like Democrats have a bit more free time on their hands. Whereas Republicans spend an average of 13 minutes on the site each time they visit, Democrats rack up an average of 20 minutes. No matter which way you splice it, YouTube is clearly an important medium among Republican and Democratic voters and the perception that YouTube is a liberal haven simply isn’t true. Coupled with new data showing that more than half of all Facebook users are not currently enrolled in college, I hereby officially declare the death of conventional wisdom.
Yes, and according to my calculations, 87.8 percent of Republican YouTubers are making Ron Paul videos.

Remix away

CNN, bless their hearts, has made the video of the YouTube debate available for downloading, which makes it easy to remix it. Have at it, video generation.

Debating the debate

I'm writing my Guardian column this week about the YouTube debate (no surprise) and as I thought about it more, I decided that it was a clash of media. Here's my take and then I'll show you the quite contrary take of a BBC editor. But it's my blog, so me first:
. . . But TV got in the way. The candidates responded to most of this with their over-rehearsed, well-spun, often-used cant: empty words about change and experience – and if anyone mentions a soldier in the family, the candidate is obligated to deliver the thanks of the nation. This is how politicians behave before the big cameras. But the folks on the YouTube videos were speaking to little cameras; they were more direct, intimate, authentic. The two media did not mix well. CNN displayed the YouTube videos in small squares on a big screen shot by a big camera – reduced, finally, to postage stamps on our screens at home, so we could barely see them. It seemed the network was afraid to show the videos full-screen because they would not look like real TV. But, of course, that’s just the point. They weren’t real TV. They were bits of conversation. But TV doesn’t know how to have a conversation. TV knows how to perform. The moderator of the event, prematurely white-haired Anderson Cooper, acted almost apologetic about the intrusion of these real people, who speak without benefit of make-up. He interrupted the candidates constantly, allowing them shallow soundbites a fraction the length and depth even of a YouTube video. So I wish we’d have the YouTube debate on YouTube and leave CNN at home. A few of the candidates are beginning to answer voters’ questions and challenges directly, small-camera-to-small-camera (as Nikolas SP Sarkozy did in his campaign and as David Cameraon does on his web site). Thus they are opening up a dialogue between the public and the powerful that was not possible before the internet: a conversation in our new public square. That is how elections should be held, amid the citizens. . . .
And then I read the BBC editors' blog with the opposite take from Kevin Marsh, a big-TV veteran and head of the net's "college of journalism." He writes of the debate:
It was a terrific clash - but not the intended clash of aspirant presidents tussling to give frank answers to the people’s questions in the people’s circus. It was, instead, a clash between two media cultures; old-style 'big journalism' and new-style 'citizen media'. On this showing, 'big journalism' is safe. . . . This time round, social networking has moved on and YouTube has entered the stage, along with zealots advocating the role of ‘citizen media’ in helping America choose the occupant of the most powerful office on earth. Uber-zealot Jeff Jarvis – who blogs here at Buzz Machine - was one of those behind a website called ‘Prezvid’ – its aim, to bring video sharing into the democratic process. Fine – except that behind it is the unwritten value system that ascribes the highest worth to so-called ‘Macaca Moments’ - named after Virginia Senator George Allen’s apparently racist comment in an unguarded moment. The relationship between media and democracy has got to be more than catching out the unguarded or unprincipled.
Mr. Marsh says that "it" -- PrezVid -- has an unwritten value system ascribing high worth to Macaca moments. Mr. Marsh, show me where that is my value system, written or unwritten. I have never said any such thing. In fact, I have fretted that we would have too many such moments yielding an resulting in an unforgiving electorate but -- characteristically, for me, if I may be the judge of that -- I came down on the side of optimism, believing that we, the people, are smart enough to discern the difference between a mere mistake or blooper and a character flaw. That is what I actually have said. Mr. Marsh chooses to project his view of what he wants to think I said on me. Either that, or he has a real problem with his antecedents. In either case, a rather surprising lapse from a "big journalism," I'd say. He continues:
Citizen media’s advocates, like Jeff Jarvis, had high hopes: “The YouTube debates could fundamentally change the dynamics of politics in America, giving a voice to the people, letting us be heard by the powerful and the public, enabling us to coalesce around our interests and needs, and even teaching reporters who are supposed to ask questions in our stead how they should really do it.” Too high. In the event, nothing new was revealed and a snowman was the star. No candidate was especially tested – indeed, they all seemed to find their key task (don’t get out, don’t give hostages to fortune) substantially easier than with a format such as ‘Meet the Press’ … or even the traditional anchor interview. As far as I could tell, the dynamics remained unchanged. Contrast Jeff Jarvis’s disappointment after the event with his hopes before it – he and others blamed the format, blamed the anchor … even blamed the system for producing too many candidates. He misses the point. ‘Big media’s’ monopoly of communication in the democratic process is over. Good. But hopes for ‘citizen media’ need to be realistic; as does any assessment of the enduring merits of ‘big media’ … like its ability to pose and press the really tough questions; like its persistence in coming back to the unanswered questions; like its ability to field ego against ego, personality against personality … not the most attractive aspect of ‘big media’, but its most necessary given the politics that we have. Maybe there is a way of fusing ‘big’ and ‘citizen’, ‘old’ and ‘new’, but this wasn’t it.
Well, we agree about the fusing but disagree, clearly, about the cause. The citizens spoke with eloquence and directness, when they were permitted to by the big media. It was the big media that messed that up.
Here is my friend Michael Rosenblum, former big-media guy now small-media guy, taking my side on the question of CNN selecting all the questions:
A few days ago, CNN started running a promo in which CNN News VP David Bohrman and a few producers sat at a table in front of laptops. “We’ve gotten hundreds of questions so far” says Bohrman, “and we have to pick the best ones to ask”. Why? Why does David Bohrman (or anyone for that matter) have to pick the best questions, or any questions. Why not just post all the video questions on the web and let the public decide which ones they like the best. In the online world, David Bohrman, (or anyone else doing this) simply gets in the way of the process. The beauty of the web is that it does not need, nor does it want ‘executive producers’ or ‘vice presidents’. Neither would I want David Bohrman to be on deciding which of the thousands of books available we will be offering tonight. Go home. The same goes for Anderson Cooper. Get out of the way.
Hell, even Adam Cohen on the New York Times editorial page -- big media of big media -- understands how it would have been better for the people to have had a role in the selection:
Whatever the ideology, these questions had an authentic feel that is too often lacking in the scripted words of paid professionals. The questions could become even more real in future debates, if the organizers drop the filtering and let YouTube users pick the questions.

Their debate

I am sorely disappointed. CNN selected too many obvious, dutiful, silly questions. Anderson Cooper didn't pace the debate; he tried to trip the runners. The videos were too tiny to be given justice. The candidates' videos were just commercials. There were far too few issues. There were too many candidates. The candidates gave us the same answers they always give. I have no doubt -- no doubt -- that we, the people, would have done a better job picking the questions than CNN did. I have no doubt that we would have heard far more substance without CNN and TV cameras in this. This should have been a debate held online: candidates answering questions directly without the need for CNN, Anderson Cooper, or their cameras. We end with the usual horserace blather of the TV commentators. A terribly wasted opportunity, this was.

Our debate: 8:30

Home stretch: Next question is about voting procedures. Chads and all that. Biden gets his 30-second "YouTube-style" video. But it's not YouTube-style. It's just a commercial. Now two voters ask whether the candidates would work for the minimum wage. Another damned gimmick. How does this make us look? A musical question about taxes with a musical punchline: "I got a parking ticket last week would one of you pardon me?" Point made. No need for the candidates to blather. Now we have a question asking whether taxes will increase when Democrats get into office as "usually" happens. Is that true? 8:46. Finally, we get to health care. Cooper says they were overwhelmed with questions on the topic and so they give us a medley. Obama says his mother spent the last years of her life wondering how she would pay for her cancer treatments. He and Edwards argue on who mandates universal coverage. Edwards tells of a man who could not get his cleft palate fixed until he was 51 years old. Clinton says it is a "national disgrace" that we have the health care we do and she "has the scars to show for" working on health care in 93 and 94; she says that "universal health care is a national value." Cooper tries to go to another question about health care for illegal immigrants and Dodd properly gets mad saying that health care is too important an issue and all the candidates should at least have a chance to talk. Cooper just repeats the question. That does not improve the quality of the debate. It adds to the cacophony of it. Obama: "I think in every single question you've heard, we've seen cynicism about change" in America. We come to a close with another twinkie question asking what "in god we trust" means. Jeesh. Can't we talk about the job of the presidency? Finally, a question about religion from a nonbeliever, cueing the obvious statements of belief from the candidates. And now guns: a question from a guy who calls his huge gun his "baby." One last shot at making us all look like nuts. Biden, to his considerable credit, says, "I'll tell you what, if that's his baby, he needs help... I don't know if he's mentally qualified to own his gun." Straight talk. Biden adds: "I hope he doesn't come looking for me." The last question promises to "lighten up the mood a little bit" by asking the candidates to look to their left and talk about what they like and dislike about the candidate there. Lightweight to the end. Biden: "I think this is a ridiculous exercise." Biden says what he likes best about Kucinich is his wife.

Our debate: 8:00

Part III: Kucinich wants people to "text peace." How hip: geek peace. Now to education: "Who is your favorite teacher and why?" OK, sweet question. But I'm not sure what it can tell us. Edwards uses it as his excuse to mention his "daddy in teh mill." Never miss a chance. We get a music video about no child left behind. Once again, I can't read it but the question is clear. Richardson would scrap it. The crowd cheers. Biden blames voting in favor of it in his friend Ted Kennedy but he, too, would scrap it. Next, a question about sending kids to private or public school. Cooper lists the candidates who, he says, sent their kids to private school. All those candidates tell Cooper he's wrong. Next, we want to hear about the candidates talking birds 'n' bees with their kids. Do we? Now to the Red State Update guys: What about Al Gore? And a snowman asks about global warming. Can we make the voters of American look any twinkier? Kucinich talks about "global warring and global warming." Can he make the candidates sound any twinkier? At last we come to the dutiful energy question. Gravel answers on taxes. I'm confused. Dodd brags that he has a hybrid. Cooper asks who took a private jet. Clinton quite properly says that we have not seriously addressed climate change. Cooper interrupts once more: That's the next question. That next question: nuclear power. The questioner says he hasn't heard the candidates on the issue and so it's at least a fresh topic. Edwards is against nuclear power. Obama is in favor of exploring nuclear power. Clinton says she'd take away tax breaks for oil companies for a strategic energy fund; she's "agnostic" about nuclear power and says Edwards is right about problems of waste and cost but also says that technology might solve it.

Our debate: 7:30

Part II: 7:30 Edwards' video plays Hair and might be funny but I CAN'T SEE IT. It's ridiculous that they run it in a small screen. I assume they think we're going to be scared away if the video isn't full CNN quality. But seeing it tiny is worse! CNN's audience is 59 and a half. They have bad eyes. They can't see these tiny videos, damnit. Now, Darfur. Now, substance. Richardson talks about what it needed; he has been there. He calls for a permanent UN peacekeeping force. Biden says he's tired of this. "Let's get right to it." He, too, went to that camp. He wants to send troops here. Gravel says the African nations don't want us because they're afraid of us. Cooper cuts him off. Clinton says that the U.S. needs to provide logistical support while still concentrating its troops on Afghanistan. Now we have a tribute to Citadel veterans killed in Iraq because the debate is there. Now to Iraq questions. The first asks "how do we pull out now?" Cooper repeats that. Well, that assumes we should pull out now. Obama -- interrupted by Cooper, which is beginning to irritate me -- says "we can be as careful getting out as we were careless getting in." 7:46. Cooper asks Biden "how do we pull out now." Once again, a question that jumps over a lot. Biden says it will take a year to pull out and we need a political solution afterwards (which is the question Biden's campaign wanted many to ask at this debate). Next question on Iraq: The mother of a soldier in Iraq for the second time blames this on the Democrats. Clinton gives the obligatory thank-you to the families of servicemen in Iraq. She pushes for a timeline. Better answer than question. Kucinich, then, too blames the Democrats for the war. It's one matter for Cooper to keep things going, another for him to keep interrupting the answers. I find him irritating. 7:52: A questioner from West Virginia tells Gravel he's offended by him saying that the dead in Vietnam died in vain. "It's a set-up question," Gravel says, "Our soldiers in Vietnam died in vain." He says you can go there and get a Baskin-Robbins ice cream cone. How that makes the deaths in vain, I'm not so sure. There are too many voices on this debate: too many candidates. A moment like that is the demonstration of it. Now Obama finds his excuse to attack Clinton for her Iraq vote. Anderson doesn't give Clinton the opportunity to respond. Cooper keeps asking them whether our troops died in vain in Iraq. As if anyone would say they did. 7:56: Should women register for Selective Service? Dodd uses this as an excuse to push his national service notion. Cooper keeps repeating the question to many of the candidates. I'm not sure why this is one of the few questions that goes to so many. Now a question from a serviceman serving "overseas" who asks Clinton why Clinton thinks she'd be taken seriously by Muslim nations that do not respect women. After the obligatory thank-you-for-your-service, Clinton recounts how she has met with leaders in many nations and she is taken seriously and many nations have women presidents. The nonissue of nonissues. Clinton says it would be most appropriate to have a woman president deal with Muslim nations. Another question asking whether these candidates would be willing to meet with the leaders of Iran, Syria, North Korea, and Venezuela. Obama says sure. He says we have an "obligation" to find ways to "move forward." Hmmm. Who would you not meet with? That's the question I would ask. Clinton says she will not promise to meet with these leaders in the first year. She says she would not be used for propaganda purposes and would meet with people based on the goals. Good answer. Edwards has it both ways: He'd meet but agrees with Clinton that diplomacy is needed first. 8:05: A questioner asks for the date we'd be out of Iraq and asks who has relatives in Iraq.

Our debate

Liveblogging reactions to the YouTube debate tonight.... 7 p.m. A good intro from a voter telling the candidates to stop beating around the (pause) bush. Before the debate, Anderson Cooper said that from the 3,000 questions, they picked 50-60. They start showing the silly videos. Damn. I knew they couldn't help trying to make us, the people, look like asses. Zack from Provo says we have a bunch of leaders who can't do their jobs. "The issue don't matter if when you get in power nothing's going to get done.... How are you going to be any different?" It's a rather pappy question and it engenders a pappy response about experience from Dodd: he might as well have hit the 'play' button his head. A stale start. "If someone really wants change, are you the guy?" Cooper asks. Silly question. Let's talk issues, damnit. Obama does his change dance. Special interests. Lobbyists. More prerecording. More stale bread. Next asking Kucinich how we'd be better off with him. What a ridiculous softball. A snowball. I'm still waiting for one of the many questions of substance I saw in the 3,000 at YouTube. (Note that our sister blog, Channel 08, is embedding the questions.) 7:10 and we're still in papland. A question from California for Clinton: "How would you define liberal?" Clinton says it used ot mean one was for freedom but in the last 30-40 years it has been turned on its head to mean big government. She prefers the word progressive -- a modern progressive (I say that's a copout... in any case, it says nothing about the issues). Gravel goes of on a Gravelesque moment to attack Obama for taking money from lobbyists and Obama replies that he pushed through a law that made that open. Now we're asking them whether they can work with Republicans and which Republicans they'd pick as a running mate. 7:13 and I'm still waiting for substance. Edwards now does his change dance. Same old same old. In most debates, the audience is told not to applaud. Why are they clapping here? I also find it irritating that they are not showing the videos full-screen, as if that would irritate us. It's harder to watch them tiny. Now it's time for the candidates' own videos. First, Dodd's about his white hair. The experience dance. Now a question about reparations for slavery. Edwards answers directly: He's against it. But he says there are other issues of equality, including mortgage inequity. Question was rather ridiculous but Edwards gave us the first bit of substance on issues. Obama changes the subject to education, also improving on the question with is answer. Kucinich is the one on the stage who's in favor of reparations. Figures. Now we're asking Dodd (why Dodd?) whether the response to Katrina would have been different if the storm had hit a white, affluent community. He takes it as a softball to go after Bush. It's 7:20 and we have someone asking the unrace-card question: Is Obama black enough? Another absurd one. Is Clinton a woman enough? Uh, she says, "I couldn't run as anything other than a woman." Well, this exchange has told us a lot. When she's elected, Clinton says, it will send a good message to lots of boys and girls. Edward -- responding to a quote from Elizabeth Edwards saying her husband would be a better advocate for women than Clinton -- declares that anyone who wouldn't vote for Obama because he's black or Clinton because she's a women, "I don't want their vote." My, how brave. Pap, pap, pap. A great moment: My friend Mary Matthews' question about gay marriage makes it onto the show. Bravo, Mary and Jen. Kucinich: Yes. Dodd won't go that far. Richardson pushes for domestic partnership and protection against hate and discrimination. 7:30: OK, they're winning me back. Now they put up the other question on the topic I liked. A great one-two punch. Edwards says he has had a journey on the issue. His wife is for gay marriage and he is not. Clinton asked her viewers to make a video. They show it on a small screen within the small screen on my small TV and I can't read it. One quarter of the way through and we haven't hit much substance yet.

And counting….

Any minute now, we'll pass 3,000 questions for the candidates on YouTube. So many questions, so few answers....

Making fun

This is giving me an uh-oh feeling about tonight's debate: CNN makes fun of the ridiculous questions submitted on YouTube. That's the standard media narrative about the stuff that we make: We're just a bunch of silly folks. Arrrggghhh. (Sadly, CNN doesn't make its video embeddable.)

Why the YouTube debates matter

The YouTube debates could fundamentally change the dynamics of politics in America, giving a voice to the people, letting us be heard by the powerful and the public, enabling us to coalesce around our interests and needs, and even teaching reporters who are supposed to ask questions in our stead how they should really do it. The debates could also demonstrate that democracy is in good hands, that we care, we are smart, we are informed. Too often, that's not the PR we, the people, get. We're masses who don't know and don't give a damn. But that's not the people you see in the vast majority of YouTube's 2,000-plus debate questions. Finally, the debates could begin to change the relationship between candidates and voters. Campaigns always have been and still are all about control, about handing down a message, about the appearance of listening. The wise candidates should go into those 2,000 questions and start answering the toughest ones, whether or not they're asked on CNN; that will earn our respect. (John Edwards plans to answer more questions after the CNN debate Monday night.) All this could happen. Or CNN could pick the dutiful, dull, obvious, sophomoric questions and make us look like a nation of dolts. I hope that won't be the case; I don't think it will. Yet CNN did give itself too much control and responsibility when it decided to single-handedly choose all our questions. They should have enabled us to select at least some of the questions and to rate, categorize, organize, and comment on them. At the very least, CNN should have asked us what we think about their choices. Not allowing that still indicates a lack of trust in us, the electorate. CNN shouldn't be controlling this. They should be organizing it. But Anderson Cooper, who'll moderate the debate for CNN, told our sister blog at the Washington Post, Channel 08:
>These are smart questions, and people are clearly living these topics. It's not just theoretical question, or an academic discussion. These are people that are very passionate about this topic. I want to make sure that this debate honors them, and honors the time they took to make these questions.
My fondest hope is that viewers -- and candidates and journalists -- leave the debate impressed with at least a few of the questions. I hope they see that handing over control to us -- or I should say, back to us -- makes for a better discussion and, in the end, a better democracy. I hope they see that we do care, we are smart. I hope they learn to involve us in their process more often. I hope we all feel better about the election and the country as a result. That is putting a lot of pressure on two hours of TV, YouTube videos, and politicians. But the YouTube debates are a crack in the wall of control of elections, politics, and media. Bring your chisels. * LATER: Preview stories from the Atlanta Constitution and NY Times quote PrezVid.

Our friends on CNN

In its leadup to the YouTube/CNN debate, Paula Zahn is interviewing some people who've posted video questions and among them tonight will be friends of PrezVid. Mary C. Matthews producer of IdolCritic (the other production so far from Exploding Video, the venture that makes PrezVid) and her mate, Jen, asking a simple, clear, direct question: "Would you allow us to be married . . . to each other?" : LATER: And here's a pastor making a powerful sermon on the same topic:


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