John Edwards’ YouTube Candidacy

As blogosphere watchers already knew, John Edwards is making no small plans to conduct a lot of his expected 2008 campaign for President online. But in what is undeniably a first, Edwards pre-announced his announcement (hey, did he once work for Microsoft, or what?) in a video posted on YouTube Wednesday night.

While Edwards is no doubt smart to try to tap the same kind of Internet gestalt that powered the ill-fated but well-funded Howard Dean campaign in 2004, there are already questions being raised about leading names of the blogosphere getting a little too chummy with the candidate. One on the hotseat is PodTech star blogger Robert Scoble, who tries to maintain his journalistic objectivity in a full disclosure post that still doesn’t quite explain why Scoble thinks it’s OK for a journalist to accept a free ride on a candidate’s airplane (even when candidates or politicians charter press planes, most established news outlets pay their reporters’ travel costs). Scoble did say that PodTech is paying most other expenses for his trip, and does promise more information later. UPDATE: Scoble adds in comments below that PodTech will seek to reimburse the campaign for some travel expenses, but that it will allow Edwards to foot some of the bill.

The actual filming of the Edwards YouTube clip was done by Rocketboom staffers, according to a post on Rocketboom founder Andrew Baron’s blog.

Today Joanne, Chuck and I are out in New Orleans for a Rocketboom exclusive. We just filmed John Edwards’ first announcement that he is running for president. It’s actually an announcement of an announcement, so to speak. I then uploaded the video to YouTube and there ya have it folks, the rest is history.

Baron also promises an exclusive interview with Edwards that will be posted Thursday morning, gloating that it will appear “well before the rest of the press will meet him for his formal press announcement.”

Kudos to Edwards, for finding the Internet and using it to communicate, and a hearty pat on the back to the bloggers who were there to watch and tell us about it. But a word of warning: be ready for the fusillade of questions about your objectivity, and whether giving one set of bloggers exclusive access really makes Edwards a candidate of the people. Baron’s blog post, for example, already tries to apologize for the video looking “like a photo op,” which Baron is either too naive or already too close to Edwards to realize that a photo op is exactly what it is.

See? The questions have already started!