When leading Republican candidates Rudy Giuliani and Mitt Romney demurred on attending a Republican presidential debate hosted by the video-hosting site YouTube, some web-savvy Republicans protested. That's the background for New York Times reporter Katharine Seelye's "Allies Urge Republicans to Join YouTube Debate" Thursday.
"When the leading Republican presidential candidates started to squirm last week about attending a Sept. 17 YouTube debate, in which the public would ask questions via video, there was a surprising backlash from the world of Republican and conservative bloggers."
What's so "surprising" about bloggers wanting their party's candidates to participate in an Internet debate?
Seelye later referred to the situation as "a mess." Then there was this identification of blogger-author Andrew Sullivan
We all had the opportunity for some real political fun this week when Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama contradicted each other in the CNN/YouTube debate. If you did not already see it, one of the YouTube questioners asked the candidates whether they would be willing to meet with the leaders of rogue nations, without preconditions, during their first year in office. Obama answered that he would. Clinton answered that she would not.
Those are differing positions, right? Diametrically opposed, actually? Well, maybe not, or at least not according to Jonathan Alter of Newsweek. In his July 27 article "Talking to Dictators," Alter wrote: "[o]n the substance, their views are almost indistinguishable." Indistinguishable?
Alter's surprising conclusion comes after his own summary of the post-debate fracas between Clinton and Obama:
For various reasons, the majority of the Republican presidential campaigns have said they are not going to participate in a CNN debate co-sponsored with the Google-owned YouTube.com.
Despite the fact that the Democrats' YouTube debate featured left-wing questions far out of proportion to questions from the right (see NB's prior coverage of the debate here), Republican activist Patrick Ruffini is arguing the GOP is really dropping the ball. Here's an excerpt from an open letter he's attached to a petition urging the candidates to change their minds:
We've read the news reports that only two of your fellow candidates have agreed to attend the Republican Party of Florida/YouTube debate, and there are major candidates considering snubbing the event.
As Republicans, we believe this is a serious mistake. Every Democratic candidate eagerly accepted the opportunity to answer questions from the American people via YouTube, even Hillary Clinton, the most cautious and calculating of the bunch.
Nothing biased here, just an amusing video to kick off your weekend. Yesterday shortly after 3:30 p.m. Eastern on "Studio B," Fox News anchor Shep Smith cracked up his guests and crew by joking about the all-too-frequent incidence of false fire alarms at Fox News Headquarters in New York.
Newsbusters revealed the overwhelming left-wing bias of the YouTube video question clips at the CNN Democrat presidential debate on Monday night. One of the most outrageous questions of the night came from Anne Laird of Pennsylvania (pictured at right), who identified herself as an employee of Planned Parenthood. Laird asked, “My question is, we here at Planned Parenthood support comprehensive sex education, and I'd like to know if any of you as candidates have talked to your children about sex, and used medically accurate and age-appropriate information?” Laird uses the word “we” in the question -- due to the fact that her clip was one of 22 that was submitted by Planned Parenthood and its supporters on one YouTube.com account with the user name PPVotes.
Laird, an Altoona, Pennsylvania native who works for Planned Parenthood in the Pennsylvania state capitol of Harrisburg, asked her question at a recent Planned Parenthood conference in Washington, DC, as revealed by an article in the Altoona Mirror. Other attendees at the conference asked a range of questions which reflect Planned Parenthood’s comprehensive sexual agenda, from “Would you push for the passage of the Equal Rights Amendment?,” “Will you repeal the global gag rule?” (referring to the Mexico City policy of the Reagan administration, which was reinstated by the Bush administration), to “Would you protect a woman’s right to control her body?” (an obvious reference to Planned Parenthood’s support for Roe v. Wade).
Over at Time's "Swampland" blog yesterday, journalist Joe Klein all but suggested the GOP candidates might be hoping to chicken out of the upcoming YouTube debate on September 17, given the leftward slant of the YouTube questions.
Given the generally irreverent and, well, liberal tone of the questions last night--and the general skew of the YouTube audience leeward, do you think it's possible that some of the Republican candidates are having second thoughts about participating in their version of the CNN/YouTube debate on September 17?
And might there be an Ailes gremlin whispering to the candidates: The Dems stiffed us at Fox. You can stiff CNN.
I'm glad Klein agrees with us that the agenda of questions on Monday skewed heavily left-of-center, but where he's off-base is suggesting that Republicans should also be pushed from the left in the debate format.
One way you can tell the media roots for liberal Democrats is by how it can’t choose just one for president. They’re all still viable, so...they’re all still fabulous. Trying to say one is better than the others seems just impossible for some reporters. And what about when the candidates fight each other? The fights are minimized, since Democratic party unity is important for their electability.
As Matthew Balan has mentioned, CNN has offered praise to all the Democratic candidates, but to me, political reporter Candy Crowley seemed a perfect example of that telltale Praise Everybody Syndrome. On Tuesday’s American Morning, Crowley asserted, that Hillary Clinton, John Edwards, and Barack Obama, "all did really well in getting their points across," even when they were fighting each other. From Crowley, this sounded a bit repetitive – because she also spread praise all over the candidates – and a few candidate spouses – last Friday morning, and even as anchor John Roberts explained their recent spats, she refused to elaborate on the fights and turned the subject back to praising Democrats all around.
Every four years, journalists present themselves as objective questioners in presidential debates only to be roundly, and correctly, denounced by conservatives for being anything but. When, oh when, we ask, will America be able to enjoy a candidate forum free from liberal reporters inserting their slanted worldviews into the discussion? When, oh when, we ask ourselves, will they get out of the way?
It looks like we should be very careful what we ask for.
Unlike their "American Morning" counterparts who liked most of the candidates, CNN legal analyst Jeff Toobin and CNN contributor Roland Martin had clear favorites on who was the best Democrat at the CNN/YouTube.com debate. In the post-debate special on Monday night, host Wolf Blitzer asked Toobin about Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama's response to a YouTube video questioner who asked whether the candidates would meet with the leaders of rogue counties like Iran, Syria, and North Korea in their first year in office. Toobin gushed, "I thought on this issue, and throughout the debate, this debate was Gladys Knight and the Pips. Hillary Clinton is the dominant figure in the party. She's the dominant figure in the debate. And everybody else was responding to her." About twenty minutes later, Martin took issue with Toobin's comments, and argued that Obama did as well as Hillary in his answer.
In the lead-up to Monday night’s YouTube debate with the Democrat presidential candidates, CNN ran prime-time specials previewing videos that might be featured during the debate, and most of those featured came from the liberal side. It should be no surprise then that video clips featured left-wing clips by almost a 3 to 1 margin versus the conservative clips - 17 liberal clips to 6 conservative clips, out of a total of 38 video question clips.
Video of 10 of the liberal questions (6:20): Real (4.53 MB) or Windows (3.79 MB), plus MP3 audio (2.15 MB).
During the course of tonight's CNN/YouTube Dem debate, Barack Obama got off this zinger at Hillary's expense.
BARACK OBAMA: One thing I have to say about Senator Clinton,s comments a couple moments ago: I think it's terrific that she is asking for [Iraq withdrawal] plans from the Pentagon [A+ for condescension there, Barack!], and I think the Pentagon response was ridiculous. But what I also know is that the time for us to ask how we were going to get out of Iraq was before we went in. And that is something that too many of us [like you, Hillary] failed to do. We failed to do it.
The screencap shows Hillary's reaction. What was going through her mind?
Just a moment ago, radio host Rush Limbaugh was blasting the mainstream media's notion that the YouTube debates represent a revolution in American presidential debates.
Not so, says Limbaugh, at least in terms of the content of the questions asked. They're still as inane and moronic, or brilliant (in rare circumstances) as they've always been because they're the same inance, moronic, or brilliant (rare circumstances) people asking them.
Instead, Limbaugh insists, we are seeing a revolution in media technology being confused for a nascent political revolution.
Now couple that, the notion that "new voices" are being heard in the YouTube debates ,with the wild left-wing skew we've documented at NewsBusters, and you see the media's liberal bias at work in staging the 2008 election in terms of liberal issue battlegrounds.
For those interested, there are currently 2,794 video questions that have been submitted for consideration to be asked at Monday's CNN/YouTube Democrat debate. Those that can stomach it should go here.
However, be forewarned. Some of the submissions are quite absurd.
With that in mind, Bryan at Hot Air has selflessly and admirably taken one for the team so to speak, and actually looked at about 1,100 of these videos reaching the following conclusions (emphasis added):
[*OBSCENE LANGUAGE CONTENT WARNING*] It doesn't get uglier than this. Using the crudest of language and the filthiest of depictions, a video skit posted on YouTube by veteran comedian Louis CK presents the Catholic Church as existing "solely for the purpose of boy rape." Louis CK is a veteran performer and writer who has been featured on network television. Last year, he had a sitcom, "Lucky Louis," which ran on HBO.
The skit begins with an "introduction" by Louis CK saying that he wants to learn about the Catholic Church. The next scene places him in an office across the desk of a priest who is a "spokesperson for the Archdiocese" of New York.
LOUIS CK: Uh, so, what is the Catholic Church? What are you guys all about about?
In last night’s CNN special on their upcoming YouTube debate, Paula Zahn previewed some of the video questions that had been sent in. The topics up for debate last night included faith and values, the environment and gay rights. Zahn led the segment on faith and values with the comment, “we are seeing an amazing variety of questions about faith and values for next Monday’s debate.” Unfortunately the four YouTube questions that followed were anything but a “variety.” The transcript of the questions follows below.
Over the last week CNN has been airing hour-long specials to promote their upcoming YouTube presidential debates. CNN has been asking viewers to submit videos to YouTube.com for a chance to have their questions answered by presidential candidates. Of the videos aired so far, those with a leftist slant have greatly outnumbered those from a conservative viewpoint. Of the videos aired on Monday night MRC concluded that distinctly liberal video submissions outnumbered conservative ones by a margin of 8 to 1 (though a slim majority of total videos shown were neutral or non-partisan).
CNN has been particularly adamant in their use of video submissions calling for universal or socialized health care. On Wednesday night CNN recycled a video that had already aired on Monday, despite that fact that some 1,400 videos had been posted on YouTube at that point. The video was submitted by Kim of Long Island, New York who is battling cancer.
As part of their week-long series of specials previewing their upcoming presidential debates with YouTube, CNN interviewed Dr. Mehmet Oz on Wednesday evening. Oz and host Paula Zahn discussed the media-driven "crisis" in health care. Zahn asked Oz, "what is the answer to piercing the bureaucracy. That is certainly something you can't fix overnight." Oz's answer: "Well, one of our biggest challenges is nihilism. People don't think they can fix the problem. But we can, Paula."
Dr. Oz is a cardiologist, an author, and is a regular contributor to Oprah Winfrey's radio show "Oprah & Friends" on XM satellite radio. In her first question to Oz, Zahn asked, "how much of a crisis are we in, when it comes to health care." Besides listing the "deep-seated lack of confidence" among health care workers, and the technological backwardness in tracking patients and their records in the industry, Oz used the oft-repeated line that "to boot, 50 million people roughly don't have any insurance at all." Of course, this is just a sound byte that is used to support the sense that there is a "crisis," and doesn't tell the whole picture, as a recent BMI report demonstrated.
On Monday night, CNN aired a special hour promoting the upcoming "CNN/YouTube" presidential debates. CNN is encouraging viewers to record their questions for the presidential candidates and post them on YouTube.com. In anticipation of this historic event, hosts John Roberts and Kiran Chetry shared just a few of the thousands of video submissions CNN has already received. Of the videos aired on Monday, a disproportionate number were distinctly liberal. Of the 19 individual videos shown (excluding some brief, zany clips), 10 were politically neutral, 8 were liberal or critical of conservative and/or Republican policies, and only 1 was clearly conservative.
Updates below. (Close look at whiteboard in video calls Ann Coulter a "whore," etc.)
By now you may have heard about "Obama Girl," an attractive young woman dancing and singing a tune about having a "crush" on the Democratic presidential hopeful. It's all the rage on the cable news nets this afternoon. Doing some digging around the Internet, however, I was unable to find who exactly is behind the viral video phenomenon, but I did find it was registered through GoDaddy.com, the Web site registrar made a household name for its racy TV ads.
At any rate, "Obama Girl" Leah Kauffman (see update) doesn't appear to be a random young woman with a camcorder and Internet savvy. Her video "I Got a Crush on Obama" serves as the inaugural media stunt for BarelyPolitical.com, a Web site created on May 30 that has a skimpy "about us" section:
Twenty years ago, on June 12, 1987, President Ronald Reagan, standing on the west side of Berlin’s Brandenburg Gate, gave a speech that many believe signaled the beginning of the end of the Cold War.
In this extraordinary moment in history, President Reagan challenged the Soviet Union’s Mikhail Gorbachev:
General Secretary Gorbachev, if you seek peace, if you seek prosperity for the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe, if you seek liberalization: Come here to this gate! Mr. Gorbachev, open this gate! Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!
(14:50 EDT) Video of Tim Russert misspelling "Iraq" at bottom of post.
When California homeschooler Evan O’Dorney, 13, won the National
Spelling Bee on Thursday night, the nation’s press reacted with a yawn.
of focusing on the winner, The New York Times ran a story about an
immigrant from India who lost in the second round of the competition.
That boy, Kunal Sah, 12, who is living in Utah, had hoped a victory
would secure his family’s legal status in the United States. Thus, the
Times managed to use the National Spelling Bee as one more forum for
pushing the plight of immigrants.
Not until the middle of the story
did The Times get around to announcing the winner, noting only his name
and hometown and the fact that the AP reported his victory.
The “Clueless” star and animal rights activist, Alicia Silverstone, was the guest directly following the Rosie/Elisabeth dust-up, and it looked like she snubbed Hasselbeck, or did she just make a mistake? When approaching from the token non-liberal’s side of the stage, Silverstone stepped up onto the platform with the couch to greet the hosts and instead of greeting the pregnant Republican in the brightly colored dress, the PETA activist walked right by Hasselbeck’s outstretched hands. The Republican host actually touched the actress’ arms to welcome her, but Silverstone moved past Hasselbeck and clearly greeted Behar, who was standing directly beside Hasselbeck. She then hugged all of the hosts except Hasselbeck (YouTube video here).
The “Weekly Standard” profiled libertarian-leaning conservative and political commentator turned documentarian Evan Coyne Maloney, whose new documentary about the leftist ideological indoctrination and pervasive political correctness in the US higher education system is called “Indoctrinate U”. Saturday May 19, CSPAN ran a segment about his film on the network’s “Washington Journal”, but CSPAN posts footage of the shows online (when they have it up, I'll post it. His spot is at the two-hour mark). You can see a clip of his film on YouTube as well as the film's website, Indoctrinate-U.com.
“Indoctrinate U” focuses on the pervasive trampling of free speech and thought on college campuses and traces the modern history of free expression on campuses from the ‘60s through today. The doc covers personal stories like “the Kafka-esque nightmare faced by Steve Hinkle, a student at California Polytechnic, whothe school attempted to sanction for placing a flier in the university's multicultural center announcing a speech by conservative African-American author, Mason Weaver.” It also features a professor who “excitedly tells the camera ‘whiteness is a form of racial oppression…treason to whiteness is loyalty to humanity’.”
The “Weekly Standard” highlighted what the documentary covers (my emphasis throughout):
I want my MTV! Somewhere a soldier or sailor in Iraq or Afghanistan is probably thinking that today. According to the AP, on May 14, the Department of Defense blocked “worldwide” the US troops who use its networks and computers from accessing 12 popular websites that include, YouTube, MTV, MySpace, Blackplanet and Photobucket. The Defense Deparmene which the DoD said“take up a large amount of bandwidth, and others that can open up department computers to hackers and viruses.” (emphasis mine throughout)
US Forces Korea Commander (USFK) Gen. B.B. Bell explained in a memo sent out Friday that the new policy will not impact the military's ability to send and receive email, but the “Department of Defense has a growing concern regarding our unclassified DoD Internet, known as the NIPRNET. The Commander of DoD's Joint Task Force, Global Network Operations has noted a significant increase in the use of DoD network resources tied up by individuals visiting certain recreational Internet sites.”
If you've ever wondered why stories critical of Islam are often dropped off sites like YouTube and Digg, look no further than this email currently being circulated among YouTube users encouraging the formation of a private group to promote Islam through gaming YouTube's favorites system:
Date: May 14, 2007, 11:18 AM
to all muslim brothers and sisters please read
Our Islamic videos will not get full attention unless they come in
the top ranked videos in youtube. For this purpose we all Muslims have
to rate the videos to 5 stars and have to add them to our favorites.
This will not be achieved if we Muslim Youtubers are scattered, i.e.,
one muslim rating one video and other muslim rating another. So we have
to be highly organized. We will do a massive campaign of focusing to
rate a single video collectively at once, so that it can show up on the
top videos at least in the “Today’s top videos” list.
New York Times political reporter Adam Nagourney is typically hyper-sensitive to any hint of a Republican "attack" on a Democrat (not so much the other way around). So it was refreshing to read him actually having a little fun needling Democrat presidential candidate John Edwards on Friday as "The Breck Girl" for his preening over his hair and looks when he thinks he's off-camera (most notoriously in a widely seen YouTube video set to "I Feel Pretty")
Nagourney on Friday wrote about the mini-flap over Edwards' two $400 haircuts and brought up the YouTube video while suggesting a perception of hypocrisy.
"John Edwards, the North Carolina Democrat, announced on Thursday that he was reimbursing his campaign $800 to cover what his aides said was the cost of two haircuts -- yes, you read that correctly -- by a Beverly Hills barber, though, perhaps, the word stylist is more applicable….Mr. Edwards has presented himself in the Democratic field as an advocate of working-class Americans, lamenting the nation’s growing economic disparity."