Wednesday, July 26, 2006

About the other day...

It's been an interesting day or two. The video as of this morning has been seen over 40,000 times on Youtube, and my blog has had such a huge one-day spike that it's gonna throw off my averages for the next six months. Sheesh!

Can I get back to regular blogging now?

OK, last word on the subject, then I'm moving on...

There's been a lot written about the Boxer/Lieberman video, where Maura and I managed to get some unscripted comments from both candidates. From what I've seen so far, the online media (including national blogs) have reacted favorably to this example of "People Powered Media" (PPM) . And the "Mainstream Media" (MSM) seems to think it's somewhat dangerous. Of course, this position might reflect their own prejudices and the threat to their job security.

This article from the CBS News blog was interesting:

"Just watch this video from blogger Connecticut Bob... It’s basically about two-and-a-half minutes of bloggers haranguing Boxer and Lieberman over his position on Lieberman’s position on forcing publicly-funded hospitals to make emergency contraception available."

Alright, I'm not entirely sure that asking a valid question of a Senator qualifies as a "harangue", but I'm willing to slide on that one. The fact of the matter is that there simply aren't many opportunities to get an honest response from a Senator without seeking him/her out and asking the question yourself.

I've written Senators Lieberman, Dodd, Clinton, and others many times over a variety of issues. Whenever they decide to respond, it's usually with a form letter sent by a staffer outlining the Senator's carefully prepared and politically safe views. On several occasions I've received a reply for an entirely different issue than what I've written about.

This tends to discourage the active participation of voters like myself from contacting our representitives. Maybe this is what they want. So when an opportunity arises to confront a Senator about their views in public, I grab my video camera and notepad full of scribbled questions and hop in my car.

There's an element of danger whenever a politician speaks off the cuff. I'm sure Senator Boxer would like to have had time to review her answer to Maura's question, but then we'd have been denied a glimpse into the Senator's true feelings. Some people might say this is "ambush journalism", but I think it's one of the few tools that We, The People, have to get unfiltered responses to our concerns.

Do you think George W. Bush would be able to take 5 minutes of that kind of questioning without folding up like a cheap lawn chair?

And wouldn't you love to see someone like Maura corner the President for that 5 minutes and ask him those important questions, without Karl Rove or Tony Snow or Dick Cheney or any of the other professional hand-holders there to protect and insulate him from us rabble?

"There’s nothing outrageous or incorrect at all about what’s happening in this video. These are citizens, as entitled to ask their political representatives questions as someone employed by a newspaper or television station. It’s part of what makes the Web and the blogosphere great. As someone who’s committed to the idea of transparency in the media, I applaud seeing it in our politics as well."

Thank you. You can stop right there.

Uh-oh...(isn't it obvious there's gonna be a "However..." coming up?)

"However, as someone who’s watched the political process very closely for the past dozen years, the likely response I see coming from the political class is less encouraging because the potential risk is just too high...It’s all great for life in the public square, but watching the Boxer footage today made me wonder once again, how often our politicians will join us there in the future."

Politicians will ALWAYS need to appear in public in order to run successfully for reelection. Even Joe Lieberman, who has taken incredible pains to insulate himself from his constituents, has to make himself available to the public from time to time.

And these are the opportunities for determined voters to show up and ask the questions that are so often answered via an impersonal form letter.

Another important reason we can get away with asking these tough questions is because we don't need access to a politician for our livelyhood. Most TV and print reporters are shackled by the threat that their access to a campaign may be cut off at a moment's notice if something they report doesn't sit well with a candidate. This is death to a reporter who makes his living from covering politics.

We don't have that fear. Personally, I don't give a shit if I never get into another political event for the rest of my life. Politics is an ugly business, where people not only tell the most awful lies on a daily basis, but do so enthusiastically and with complete abandon. The sleaze factor in most politicians is enough to make a reasonable person feel ill. I'll be glad once the general election is over, and I can get back to a normal life.

But for now, people like Maura, CT Blogger, Spazeboy, and many others are making the effort to get the honest, unscripted answers.

And that's why "People Powered Media" (PPM) will be a significant factor in the future of politics.


ctblogger said...


Anonymous said...

Back in the day, we used to call this bird-dogging. The pol would come to NH and in that retail environment you'd politely ask the toughest questions you could think of and the response was either a dodge or (what we now call risky) a reasoned exchange.
These guys are pros and should be able to anticipate potential questions and be honest enough to prepare a dodge. It becomes a gotcha when though lack of prep, they say stupid stuff or get snippy.
You guys did a great job, it was respectful and polite, but firm. Anyone that can't take that should find a monestery to work in.

Anonymous said...

CT Bob - I think that the footage of you and Maura should be required viewing at all schools of journalism.

Excellent initial questions by both you and Maura, perfectly concise and focused. Great follow up questions as well.

Lieberman and Boxer looked like garbage because they weren't ready for the questions and chose to be rude and lie rather than engage with you in a real dialogue. You exposed them. That is the work of true journalists. Your video is one of the most refreshing and soul-satisfying things I have seen in years. Democracy in action.

Keep up the great work and never back down!

PamB said...

Let's get some organized door to doors going! Lieberman getting a bump from Clinton, will be pushing ads like crazy using Clinton, is going door to door in the Cities, meaning he is making a HUGE last minute push.

12 Days !!! that's all we have.
Let's get copies of those Democratic lists from Lamont campaign, and get cracking on Doors ! We did this for Kerry, we MUST do this for Ned. Simple question to ask, Are you for this invasion into Iraq or are you not?

Anonymous said...

I dunno Bo,

The Washington Press Corps are not exactly light weights .

Beth said...

For you Ct Blogger

FaulknA said...

Great work Bob! Enjoy it while you can. You just know that the establishment would love to put their collective feet down upon the necks of bloggers. They've pretty much removed the common people from having any say about what they're doing as it is. This is the last level playing field there is and I pray that we can keep it that way.

Anonymous said...

Very pretty design! Keep up the good work. Thanks.