Blog Post

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!

24 Responses to “John Edwards’ YouTube Candidacy”

  1. It will be interesting to see how YouTube impacts the presidential campaign. Whenever anyone messes up in public–you can bet someone videoed it and uploaded it to YouTube. Imagine every candidate gaff recorded on a cell phone and uploaded to YouTube for all the world to see. Those videos can ruin a campaign (think Howard Dean 2004), but have little to do with a candidate’s ability to be a good President. Beyond that, what will the regulatory environment look like for online video sites? Where will the line be drawn for free speech with all of this new media that’s impossible to regulate?

  2. Paul Kapustka

    Sorry Francine, I can’t agree with your assertation that all other outlets are “corrupt.” There has to be a distinction between objective reporting and paid-for reporting, otherwise it’s all just advertising.

    In the post, we did give bloggers credit for their actions. But I maintain that disclosures like Robert’s are necessary, so that readers can tell determine whether information is purely objective, or whether its delivery is assisted by the source.

  3. The big boys at the big media houses must be scrambling their heads – all the infrastructure, logistics,planning and preplanning are no longer needed to reach a critical mass- just upload your candidacy to YouTube.

    Great post- referred to it in my post at

  4. Oh, please Paul, spare me the sanctimonious bs. I am not necessarily a supporter of Edwards, but I’ve had a long experience with politics and public affairs. No one is pure. This is the real world. When someone reaches out to a new way of getting to people — beyond the organized and already corrupted structures — give them credit. And give Rocketboom and Robert credit for being willing to interrupt their holidays to go to the depressing town of New Orleans, followed by the freezing states of Iowa and New Hampshire. I’ve been to both in the winter, and they are no Caribbean cruise, campaign jet or not.

  5. Paul Kapustka

    Yes, journalists do pay their way on Air Force One. Ask a few of them tomorrow at the press conferences. I know we did when I was part of a trip with President Clinton back in 2000, when I was at the Red Herring. And all the networks, wire services, major newspapers all paid their own way (and complained loudly about it too). It’s a huge expense, but deemed worth it in many cases to get exclusive access.

    My guess is that the Edwards campaign will figure out some cost to charge those who want to pay their own way; and I agree you will probably disclose things more prominently than most. But mainstream journalists probably don’t even think about needing to disclose such things because most of them have ethics clauses that prohibit accepting free travel, etc.

  6. I’m talking with the campaign about covering my part of the plane ride too. Or, at least charging me the same as I’d pay for a commercial jet ride.

    So, you’re saying that all the journalists who ride on Air Force One pay their own way? I seriously doubt that. Either way, you’ll know what I’m getting — that’s a much better deal for readers than you get from 90% of the mainstream journalists out there.