Sunday, January 04, 2009

The Age Of Wireside Chats & Open-Source Media

(But first, an office pool: who'll be the first Rump-Pug to officially push "impeachment" of Obama this year? I haven't decided yet.)

The YouTubation of politics and the growing library of online video will find politicians from both sides seeing more of their hypocrisies shouted from the rooftops. The accessibility of public records is vastly different in 2009 compared to 2001. Awhile back, I searched for congressional debate opposing the repeal of the 1933 Glass-Steagall Act, and amazingly, one was there on YouTube. Senator Byron Dorgan, C-Span, 1998, 435 views. Somebody went to the trouble of saving and uploading.

As the blogsphere mines previous on-the-record position-statements and viralizes discrepancies in the glare of mercury vapor pixels, we can expect some interesting and inventive political gymnastics during the Obama presidency. The Administration plans to release weekly YouTube addresses, or wireside chats. On the stage, choreography is altering radically, and newspapers, mainstream media, and even the gut-journalism of Fox News look like ornate Busby Berkeley hoofers at a hip-hop contest.

This is a two-edged sword, but the unintended consequences will rain down on media and pummel them with hail the size of canned hams. We won't have to wait for Meet the Press on Sunday morning to present the nuances, because bloggers will have a nearly complete, nearly real-time video record, and open source information will have the upper hand. Spin vs. Anti-Spin. The evolving tech backdrop is, I think, the reason why the news business profit model is wilting, and why as a friend says, "People who believe what they read in the papers are idiots."

In the past, only big media could scan the video archives for discrepancies, or masses of expensive, service-subscribed print had to be sifted through, and now we have politicians on video and text, tagged and bagged for free. The blogsphere will repeatedly beat media to the punch and the truth, and will continue to draw eyeballs away.

When Obama takes a policy stand and Larry Craig (R-OwnPrivate Idaho) says it's an outrageous abuse of power, I'll be able to (on occasion) Google up old video where he's stridently supporting the privilege of George Bush to do the exact same thing. When Senator Reid says Republicans are obstructing urgently needed legislation, a Freeper is sure to find video of Reid praising obstruction. Where will it end? I don't know. It won't.


Still Life Living said...

If you are interested in democracy, buy GOOG - big brother edition (yes it is a perverse paradox, but after 8 years of GWB, nothing makes much sense anymore).

On a quasi-related topic, California has semi-ended its experience with public access TV. (See:,0,2832047.story) While there is some valid arguments for keeping studios available for public production, Google (along with the NYC porn purveyors) has rendered this forum relatively obsolete. Google is atleast Gonzo in its libertarian approach.

MarcLord said...

GOOG has steadfastly refused to play ball with the FCC, and with the government while the founders were still there. There are rumors that Eric Schmidt has knuckled under on search privacy.

Jon said...

To enter into the pool, I predict the first person to call for Obama's impeachment will be a fat, stupid, deaf, impotent drug addict who has a radio show.

I appreciate your sentiment, but I believe Youtube will make no more difference than The Daily Show/Colbert Report has already made. Anyone with half a brain has already been able to see the hypocrisy (such as Rove dismissing a potential Democratic VP candidate as being inexperienced, followed by a clip of him a few days later, praising the newly nominated Sarah Palin for having lots of experience since she's a governor).

So, in the last election the intelligent people voted for Obama, and the people who wanted an idiot just like them back in office, voted for someone else.

MarcLord said...


oh, I meant Congress-Critter. Limbaugh is an absolute given.

And yeah, the only people left who believe the news outlets are idiots. I just mean that the media will continue to lose credibility, and their business model will keep suffering. It's increasingly easy for people to get the real scoop.

Jon said...

Marc- I worry that the Internet is just a big echo chamber. Certain people who only read the web sites with "proof" that Hillary Clinton killed Vince Foster and ignore the well documented fact that Laura Bush killed a man, for example. At least when the MSM pretended to be balanced, there was a small chance people would learn of alternative points of view.

With the fracture of news outlets into so many narrow points of view, begin before but accelerated by the Internet, people can be deluded all sorts of dangerous obsessions.

MarcLord said...


Yes, but that was precisely what Barbara Bush was looking for in a daughter-in-law, making the story off-limits. And Hillary was having an affair with Vince Foster, so she's clean.

Short: the MSM is as hollowed out as everything else. Blogging isn't.

Long: De Toqueville described democracy as a revolving echo chamber for the losing party, and being deluded by all sorts of dangerous obsessions is unavoidable. Still, a strange interplay developed between major media and blogging; they're dance partners which both lead. As the saying goes, "Nothing's worth the MSM's attention until it's up on the Drudge Report."

I get your larger point about the end of balance and amusing ourselves to death. An ill wind there. Then I see the interplay, where stories arc in from, and wonder what's wagging what. It's the new accessibility of the record which supports a Jeffersonian stew.

With the new O-ministration, Reich Wing bloggers will start to heavily grind the other edge of the digital public record's sword. The media will too, but bloggers will be faster & more creative.

Even so, it's the far left who will YouTube to greatest effect against Team Obama. He has begged his supporters to use it so he can pull an FDR.

Jon said...

Yes, I understand your point Marc. Very interesting. While I still worry about the echo chamber effect, you've given me hope. After all, when Gutenberg invented the printing press, the resulting wider distribution of knowledge was a benefit to mankind (Ann Coulter's books notwithstanding). Like all discussions on the Internet, we must compare it to Hitler's Germany. Perhaps today's youth's greater level of diversity will offset the ability of the majority to blame the minority. While some neo-Nazi's will use the echo chamber to reinforce their beliefs, most of us will say things like "Some of my best friends on Facebook are Jewish." We can only hope.

MarcLord said...

And I yours, Jon.

One could argue that the printing press hastened the Protestant Reformation, which ushered in a hundred years of dislocation, realignment, and horrible conflict. And that the Internet may bear effects of that magnitude.