It doesn’t get much more surreal than this. I’m headed north from Miami on the second deck of the Tri-Rail train using an AT&T (NYSE: T) 3G cell modem that has yet to blip (and that’s not the surreal part), trying to watch the health care bill signing — and it’s being served up directly by the White House. The cable networks will probably show some of it and the news shows will use a clip, but the Obama White House has grown adept at cutting out the middleman, using YouTube, an official Facebook channel with running comments, and an iPhone app, among others, to deliver its video message. Press Secretary Robert Gibbs tweeted pictures of the president during the historic moment when the bill passed and probably will do the same with the signing ceremony. It’s a major advance from the days when cute dog videos and a home page were the height of presidential digital savvy, whatever you think about the bill.
Update: I wound up watching bursts of the signing via the White House iPhone app as I left the train, only hearing later about Vice President Joe Biden’s newest wordplay. That took comments from people I know and news reports — not a direct link to the “F word” clip from the White House. When news makers cut out the middleman and when anyone can be a broadcaster of text or multimedia, it shifts the role of those who cover news. Just how is still being determined.