Will the Real Citizen Kotecki Please Stand Up?

July 6, 2008 at 11:44 pm (Blogs, Presidential) (, , , , , )

Was James Kotecki a journalist prior to joining politico.com?

No.

Reasons Why?

1. Comparing James Kotecki to Chris Matthews is like comparing the chimp that bangs on square peg in a round hole till he realizes there is square whole, with a gorilla that smashes both the peg and the holes . . . and then poops on the debri (In this analogy, the part of the gorilla is played by Chris Matthews). I write this to say that there is a subtle nuance to Kotecki’s observations that may come from the niche market of youtube politics, or it might come from the fact that he is not obligated mostly by ego to have the loudest voice as it seems Matthews, Olberman, and Papa Bear O’Reilly are. Having the loudest voice however isn’t a prerequisite for being a journalist either so that alone won’t disqualify him from the fourth estate.

2. Going back to the Last Campaign but particularly the Boys on the Bus another big difference is Kotecki straying from the typical news story that has the life of your average cold bug. This was particularly evident during the Democratic Primary where gave shout outs to Congressman Ron Paul Senator Mike Gravel for their interesting approaches and willingness to come to his dorm room. I his post on Dodd on Emergency Cheese was also an example of how while many talking heads were rattling on about what Obama or Hillary said or didn’t say, Kotecki was looking for the candidate that most exemplified his particular ‘field’ of politics and youtube. I guess it could be argued that he, like Matthews et al, is choosing the candidates that epitomize some noble standard, but I think that puts into question more what the standards of the pundit class is. The Dodd youtube clip was a perfect example of how Kotecki personally favored Dodd’s clip because it fufilled specific series of citizen journalism meets voter activism meets youtube. I seems that journalists and pundits can not specifically state what their criteria are for praising or critiquing candidates. The may say its the search for truth or something but I how can you both be a herald of fact and be so partisan as an O’Reilly or Olberman? Kotecki makes his rationalizations clear.

3. EmergencyCheese is Kotecki’s own creation and though he is using the youtube platform, based off the Washingtonian article, he was posting before youtube. Though we often equate the O’Reilly Factor as ‘owned’ by Papa Bear, it is owned by News Corp. If Kotecki is considered a journalist than by logically so would Rupert Murdoch. Kotecki is more like Charles Foster Kane of the first two-fifths of Citizen Kane before he gets all creepy (You have been warned, Mr. Kotecki). Kane was the publisher not a journalist himself, though he influenced what was and wasn’t in his papers. The idea of a citizen journalist is certainly a new one, and I think it applies to Kotecki’s early work on Emergency Cheese, but this I think is unfettered approach to relaying a point of view, combines publisher/editor/journalist which is not the same as a just a journalist.

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Are Right-Wing bloggers Having any fun? And Voter Generated Content as Activist Tool

June 22, 2008 at 8:05 pm (Uncategorized)

I would like to present two sections to this week’s entry. One: I wanted to post some of my favorite and some of the more notorious voter generated videos over the last year. Two: I wanted to go over some voter generated content that is more about activism.

I was going to do a top ten but found the task a little time consuming and plus not very interactive. Garrett brought our attention to the john.he.is mashup by Public Service Administration, which was funny and certainly somewhat topical.  He said it First is another of PSA’s video is comical take on news the way George Allen and the ‘macaca‘ moment and the Wright videos did. Unlike Allen, McCain isn’t actually videotapped saying the offensive slur that Nick Juliano of the Huffington Post reports, so while it is funny and itself a little offensive, it won’t be the unmaking of McCain the way as maccaca was for Allen in 2006. The john.he.is works precisely because the McCain campaign can argue about context all they want, but the actual footage is what incriminates him.

One of the things that I have continually noticed is that subjectively speaking, the more liberal leaning voter generated blogs and particularly the videos are more fun than any of the most viewed anti-Obama material. Beyond the blatantly racist videos found on youtube, I couldn’t find a single voter generated video that is both topical and funny (which I believe are two key componants that drive the viral nature of online content). I am sure its out there but most of the stuff I found which I won’t link to, attempts to demonize Obama. This might not be a big deal, but stuff like the Obama Girl (I got a Crush on Obama), Baracky and Empire Strikes Barack are funny but more importantly speaks to the phenomenon of the campaign that is not talked about. Its reaching people who would otherwise consider themselves apolitical.  When was the last time a candidate brought out the positive. There was a moment right before the Pennsylvania Primary when Obama’s campaign got in trouble because people were plastering old voter generated content (posters and stickers) all over the city. The campaign had nothing to do with it, and particularly because of FEC regulations, strongly tried to dissuade it, but even the police who stopped by the office couldn’t really do anything (in fact one of them picked up a yard sign and bumper sticker). Could anyone imagine the same thing for Kerry or Gore? Maybe Dean but I always believed that Dean’s was more the activist’s candidate.  Sure some could argue that people showed up to his meet-ups who hadn’t been involved in politics before but that doesn’t mean they weren’t non-political activists. Meet-up started so fans of Lord of the Rings could meet monthly. As silly as it might sound, they and the the popular ‘witches’ meet-up group were activists in their own right. They would seek out information, have action plans of a sort (finding inaccuracies in the LOTR movies, a new incantation-Really I have no idea but follow me), and they left the more pedistrian part of their lives (family, work, etc) for this activity. That was the Meet-up phenomenon. It was people who were already out doing stuff, and at the time Dean was the candidate for that type of person. The movement that Obama I believe is different. Over the course of 50 Primary battles, Obama’s candidacy is activating people who I believe are not just the activists or the netroots. Its something wholey different and I am curious to see how this evolves.

Anyway. . . This stuff is funny and fun and provocative and I look over at the opposition and its just anything but and clearly playing to fears of low-information voters (though how many of them make up the web audience, and of those, how many look to the web for their political news?). Where is the haha GOP?

2.

I have been more and more curious to how either side of the political spectrum their voter generated content in increasingly interesting ways. Open Left has begun a a project Searching for John McCainis ‘a massive, online activism campaign designed to make at least ten million non-partisan, poll-tested, on-message voter contacts that reveal the damning truth about John McCain entirely through mainstream news reports and McCain’s own words.’ Through mass blogger participation and the use of embedded hyperlinks, Searching for John McCain will connect millions of curious, low-information swing voters to negative, mainstream news articles about John McCain without 99% of those voters even knowing that Searching for John McCain exists. This is the next evolution of the googlebombs of 2005-6. Just two years ago, the technology was not quite there for this type of assault on a campaign. Another example of bloggers taking the helm this election cycle was from Wired (Originally found on Personal Democracy Forum) where bloggers managed to work with DC police to arrest Larry Sinclair who alleged committing misdeads with Obama. This reminds me a lot of the section in First Campaign of how the blog community scared off potential nominees for Chair of the DNC allowing Dean to march in as savior.

Other links I want to talk this week:

Moveon.org v. FISA

Ron Paul and digg.com

1,00,000 for Obama on Facebook

Other Great Mashups

Vote Different

McCain YouTube Problem

NSFW-Obama/Clinton Mashup-Jimmy Kimmel homage

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More on LGF . . .

June 12, 2008 at 11:29 pm (Uncategorized) (, )

I am reducing my grade of Little Green Footballs from B+ to B-. One of Johnson’s recent links really doesn’t pass ‘do I have to hold my noise when I read this?’ test.

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Little Green Footballs v. Open Left

June 12, 2008 at 11:16 pm (Blogs, Uncategorized) (, , )

I choose Little Green Footballs and Open Left primarily because the each had initial posts that caught my attention Tuesday. Open Left relates a recent Washington Post article regarding what this small donor army of the Obama campaign might mean. LGF writes about vulnerabilities in on Obama’s blog. Both were coming from different sides of the Obama as ‘Internet President’ argument.

Assessment of the sites:

Little Green Footballs and its main writer, Charles Johnson comes out of what I would like to believe is a burgeoning political philosophy that is largely conservative in mindset but without the ‘loyalty’ to the Republican Party. I guess Libertarian would fit but I really think that many in this group, don’t really identify with any kind of political labeling. The content of LGF seem almost entirely driven by what I call the Miller/Hitchens Effect: Named after Dennis Miller and Christopher Hitchens, two razor sharps wits that were arguably more left leaning  pre-September 11, and who have knowingly or unknowingly follow the the path of the Darwinian Conservatives. Both have spent the last seven and half years spotting a pro-war/anti-Islam agenda. The Wikipedia describes him the blog as transformed from of his ‘ of bicycle racing, programming, web design, and the occasional humorous news item into a very active discussion of the War on Terror, Islam and the Arab-Israeli conflict.’

I don’t know if its fair to compare the two as Open Left has more overtly partisan anti-Republican bent while LGF really is more centered on the issue of the middle east conflict. Johnson’s style is more abrupt, letting links speak for themselves. It really feels like he is breaking news in the vein of The Drudge Report. Open Left is not written to be so much of a news source but an analysis and activist journal. Throughout the week the closest it comes to disagreeing with Obama is in their prediction on legislation that would pass if the Democrats gain the ‘Hat Trick’ in the branches of government.   I make this point because though you will likely find me agreeing with Open Left on the issues, I think I am a more LGF in my demeanor, at least when it comes to my news. I probably have too much of an political organizer mentality where its more about finding ethical ways to win, rather than pat myself on the back for having noble ideas. Noble ideas only get you the votes of people who already agree with you. If what I saw in on both web sites is on par with what is normally posted, LGF did more to make me want to put my defenses up particularly when it comes to the candidate I support.

I may have more on this tomorrow, but for now, before school, I did a lot of work in the youth vote movement. Here is an link to Project Vote relating how the surge in youth voting is happening not across the youth demographic so much as the youth demographic with some college experience. What immediately comes to mind is the accessibility to internet issue. I would be interested in anyone’s thoughts on if they think there is population of young people who are not engaged in this Presidential Cycle which is more than ever being engaged on the not entirely accessible medium of the internet.

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Reflections on the Last Eighteen Presidential Primary Months

June 8, 2008 at 11:22 pm (Obama, Presidential) (, , , , , , )

With Senator Clinton conceding yesterday and the path to the nomination clear for Senator Obama and Senator McCain, I thought it would be interesting to take some of what I have read from The Boys on the Bus and The Last Campaign and discuss similarities in campaign style with the 2008 Presidential candidates and the candidates of 1948 and 1972. In full disclosure, I spent two months (March through April in PA) working on Senator Obama’s Presidential campaign. Still I will try to be as unbiased as possible. Please comment if you think I am off the mark or if you see other similarities
Also, I am fully aware that the 1948 and 1972 primary season was nothing like this year’s prolonged Democratic Primary race. Nominations by party leaders in 1948’s Republican and Democratic Conventions determined the nominee while the Primaries were seen more as a gauges of support. And McGovern became the front-runner early and after winning all 273 of the California delegation (it was not proportional as it is now) ran away with the nomination.

Senator Clinton Equals Governor Dewey

Senator Clinton reminds me very much of how Karabell portrayed Governor Dewey’s run for the nomination and the white house. They are as follows:

  • Clinton and Dewey both launched their campaigns as the presumptive favorite within their parties only to lose a great deal of their sparkle toward the end
  • Both relied early on national opinion polls to gauge their ‘electability,’ but faltered largely due to their opponent’s extensive field outreach,
  • Both used New York’s proximity toNew Hampshire to help solidify their status in the race for the nomination.
  • Hillary, at least initially, took a far more moderate approach than the other Democratic candidates, opting, like Dewey, to ‘minimizing risk and avoiding sharp edges.’ (p. 83)
  • Both relied heavily on good relationships with party leaders.

Obviously there are differences but from the standpoint of the campaign mentality, but I believe this is pretty accurate.

Senator McCain Equals Harry Truman.

Despite the difference in party affiliation, the campaigns of both Truman and McCain have some interesting similarities.

  • Both campaigns could be characterized by their hawkish approach; Truman had Communism, McCain the War on Terror.
  • Both had slow starts to the campaign.  McCain and is campaign were all but dead in the beginning of the race for the White House.
  • Truman wasn’t that popular even within his own party. McCain like Truman, had issues with differing factions with his own party.
  • Both were members of the Party seen as least likely to win in November.

Senator Obama Equals Henry Wallace, Senator George McGovern and oddly enough Senator Strom Thurmond.

First a word on the Obama campaign:
I think there can be little argument at this point that more than anything, how the campaign turned this Freshman Senator into the Democratic Presidential nominee, has effectively changed the way presidential politics will be run for years to come. The campaign has broken all previous fundraising records using the internet and small donations. It understood the delegate math better than any other campaign and neutralized Clinton’s win New Jersey with gains in places such as Idaho. It has also had the first truly 50 Primary state strategy that will become the model for future races. With that said, there are elements to the style of the campaign that are similar to Wallace, McGovern and yes even Thurmond.

  • The Anti-war approach: McGovern’s popularity with young people can largely be attributed to his opposition to the Vietnam War. Wallace too, was able to initially galvanize support from the PCA through his opposition to a escalating tension with the Soviet Union. Obama’s opposition to the war helped launch his Senatorial run and his Presidential.
  • Like McGovern, Obama’s fundraising relied heavily on a large group of small donors.
  • Thurmond’s passionate oratory skills and youthful vigor were what helped him garner 38 Electoral Votes.
  • McGovern’s rise came from the implosion of presumptive frontrunner Muskie’s campaign. Obama’s Iowa victory put the first dent in the ‘inevitability’ argument of the Clinton camp.
  • Also of note here, was Muskie’s inability to adapt to this new type of press coverage. This strikes me as very similar to the Clinton campaigns, but largely former President Bill Clinton’s, inability to understand the viral nature of his gaffe on the internet. McGovern’s campaign gave the press the kind of unfettered access to, not only to campaign materials, but to the tools (phones, mimeographs, etc) that made making the news easier.
  • Thurmond’s Presidential aspirations came two years into serving a term as Governor of South Carolina. Obama has served only 4 of 6 years in the Senate.

[It is my hope that Senator Obama fairs better than these three]
One last note: I think it’s interesting that the pack mentality of the press corps in 1972 is hyper present today.  I don’t know how many times a particular talking point (like the Idaho/New Jersey delegate math point I made earlier) gets rapidly circulated and becomes ‘the’ talking point. My subsequent posts will be chalk of more links.

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Viral Attack

May 22, 2008 at 11:21 pm (Obama, Presidential) (, , )

Jonathan Martin and Ben Smith of politico discuss the Obama’s campaign’s strategy for dealing with viral smear emails

I have actually seen quite a few of these. While I think its a problem, perhaps more to blame is the ‘prolonged’ Primary process. I also wonder how many of these potential voters who are swayed from this would actually vote for a ‘liberal’ politician.

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