CBS's Expert: Obama's Site 'Clean,' McCain's 'Cluttered' w/ 'Chaos'

For the fourth straight weekday as Barack Obama vacations, he received better coverage on the broadcast network evening shows than the non-vacationing John McCain. Without fresh video of Obama, the CBS Evening News came up with a new way to tout Obama's campaign as they compared the Web sites of the two candidates and declared Obama's far superior. Reporter Daniel Sieberg asserted “McCain's Web site is still playing catch up to Obama's use of cyberspace.” Turning to “Web design expert Doug Jaeger,” Sieberg echoed Joe Biden in applying the term “clean” to Obama as he highlighted how “Jaeger describes Obama's site as clean; and McCain's as cluttered.” Jaeger complained about JohnMcCain.com: “He's using lots of different typefaces at all different sizes which gives you a feeling of chaos.”

Sieberg soon trumpeted how on BarackObama.com “kids have their own special area, including a logo to color,” while the dour McCain “offers a game called Pork Invaders on his Facebook page,” but if you do well, Sieberg sarcastically noted, “you're rewarded [pause] with a statement about pork-barrel politics.” Withe the contrasting numbers on screen, the CBS reporter also championed Obama's transcendence on social networks which are largely only used by younger people:
The Obama campaign may hope the Internet will do for Obama what television did for John F. Kennedy in 1960. Just compare the candidate's popularity on the social networking sites Facebook and MySpace. While both campaigns hope their supporters spread the word, Obama is "friended" almost seven times more than McCain.
ABC and CBS ran full stories on how Hillary Clinton's name will be placed in nomination and she'll get a roll call vote at the Democratic convention with ABC's Kate Snow relaying that “Chelsea Clinton may introduce her mother on stage.” NBC anchor Brian Williams read short item on the agreement -- the newscast's first story this week about either the Obama or McCain campaigns.

The NBC Nightly News, which back on July 31 didn't utter a syllable about the doubled GDP, led with bad news on inflation as Williams intoned from Beijing:
Inflation in America is on a run. The official inflation rate jumped 5.6 percent in July compared to the same time a year ago. We haven't seen an increase like that sine 1991 -- it's a 17-year high and American families are feeling it. It's where we begin our reporting here tonight...
My earlier NB posts detailing ABC, CBS and NBC evening newscast coverage this week:
For Monday night: “Obama on Vacation, Yet Earns More and Better Coverage than McCain
That posting recounts how CBS allocated more than three minutes to a “CBS News Exclusive” fawning interview and profile by Couric of “Barack Obama's brain,” Valerie Jarrett, who “just may be the most powerful woman in Chicago besides Oprah.”
For Tuesday night: “Weekday #2: No Media Benefit for McCain from Obama's Vacation

For Wednesday night: “CBS Scolds McCain: 'Respect Takes a Backseat to Ridicule'”
The story about the Web sites aired on the Thursday, August 14 CBS Evening News, joined about a fifth of the way into it:
REPORTER DANIEL SIEBERG: We went to Web design expert Doug Jaeger for his professional review, which started with a complaint.

DOUG JAEGER, FOUNDER, THE HAPPYCORP.COM: This is the home page, okay, this is where we're greeting people. Do you think these guys could make eye contact with us? No.

SIEBERG: Jaeger describes Obama's site as clean; and McCain's as cluttered.

JAEGER: He's using lots of different typefaces at all different sizes which gives you a feeling of chaos.

SIEBERG: Both Web sites target specific audiences. McCain goes after six, including veterans, lawyers and sportsmen. Obama has 18, ranging from Asian-Americans to women. Kids have their own special area, including a logo to color. McCain offers a game called Pork Invaders on his Facebook page. Kill enough pigs, and you're rewarded [pause] with a statement about pork-barrel politics.

BEN SMITH, THE POLITICO: Obama's then goes on to do what McCain's doesn't, which is to provide his supporters this whole infrastructure to organize themselves to do things that are going to help get Obama elected, and McCain's just doesn't do that.

SIEBERG: The Obama campaign may hope the Internet will do for Obama what television did for John F. Kennedy in 1960. Just compare the candidate's popularity on the social networking sites Facebook and MySpace. While both campaigns hope their supporters spread the word, Obama is “friended” almost seven times more than McCain. Enter a zip code on Obama's site and you can find, or evenput together, events, like this fundraiser organized by Arlene Geiger.

ARLENE GEIGER: It allows everybody who wants to do something to put their thing out there and see if people get excited about it.

SIEBERG: McCain has just recently added a similar events feature. He's been using a different approach to get supporters to "spread the word." The campaign supplies the talking points, you post them on a blog and get reward points for doing so -- redeemable for prizes like riding the Straight-Talk Express. But McCain's Web site is still playing catch up to Obama's use of cyberspace, and there are fewer than 12 weeks to Election Day.

ANDREW RASIEJ, FOUNDER, PERSONAL DEMOCRACY FORUM: Building communities online takes time. So it's sort of like trying to get a 747 to take off from a small regional airport. There ain't enough runway.

SIEBERG But there's no guarantee that online enthusiasm will translate into votes for either candidate. Still:

RASIEJ: I don't think you can get elected President of the United States without using the Internet, but you're certainly not going to get elected President of the United States with it alone.

SIEBERG: Making the Internet a new voice for the people - and maybe a transformative tool for the candidates. Daniel Sieberg, CBS News, New York.
CBSNews.com online version of this story.
Brent Baker
Brent Baker
Brent Baker is the Steven P.J. Wood Senior Fellow and VP for Research and Publications at the Media Research Center