YouTube has been big for years, but today it outdid itself. The announcement of the YouTube/CNN debate and the viral Obamagirl video both spread like wildfire around the blogosphere and even the mainstream media.
Anderson Cooper and the crew at CNN have decided to throw together a new debate format that is sure to change very little in the world of presidential politics. YouTube users will submit questions (sans profanity) and a few will be presented to the candidates for the first time during a debate televised on CNN. The idea of citizens asking questions isn’t new and format sounds inventive but really doesn’t seem all the different from having audience members participate. Each of the candidates has been on YouTube before (Hilary, Obama, Edwards and McCain, Giuliani, Romney [Edwards and Giuliani have the best]) and this debate won’t reveal a lot of new policy decisions. I think this debate will be groundbreaking in the way that it forces candidates to open up and act personal. Clinton can gain the most from this debate as she is the candidate who is most commonly considered cold and emotionless. If she can come out slinging jokes and relating to normal people, she’ll strengthen her lead over the other candidates. Obama can also set his campaign back on track after a series of flat performances. I’m interested to see how the republicans behave when a bunch of hipster, progressive YouTubers ask them questions that they aren’t used to answering. They’ll have to appear hip without appearing progressive. Hm….
The other big YouTube story of today is only partially related to YouTube. The obamagirl video (seen here or below) comes from BarelyPolitical.com and features actress and insta-celebrity Amber Lee Ettinger lipsinging to a song performed by Leah Kauffman. Fox News did an asinine interview this morning and threw out tons of conjecture that really means very little. This video will do very little but it could help the Obama campaign reinforce it’s grassroots support. I doubt this will have the serious implications that some pundits expect because YouTube still affects a relatively narrow audience. YouTube’s audience is almost entirely comprised of people who are young and tech-savvy which translates into an already decidedly liberal demographic. Even though the media is having a blast with this video, I seriously doubt that it will have any long-term impact.