July 23, 2007 10:15 PM PDT

YouTube video debate actually worked

It may have seemed wacky at first, but the idea of allowing Americans to pose questions to presidential candidates through brief YouTube videos turned out to be a success.

The video questions posed in Monday's Democratic debate were more personal and more direct than the circumlocutions that political journalists tend to prefer, which I admit may not be a compliment to our profession.

But the problem was that the politicians ducked, weaved and often replied without giving a straight answer. (Ironically, the first user-submitted video, which asked the candidates to "actually answer the questions that are posed to you tonight," anticipated this problem but was insufficiently persuasive.)

An example: Gary Berry, a department chairman at the American Military University and 26-year Army veteran, asked a perfectly straightforward two-part question. He wanted to know on what date after the 2009 presidential inauguration all U.S. troops will be gone from Iraq and, second, "How many family members do you have serving in uniform?"

Hillary Clinton, Christopher Dodd, Bill Richardson, Joe Biden, and Dennis Kucinich responded to the question. Only Dodd actually answered it fully, saying he served in the Army Reserves and had immediate family with military careers, though not mentioning that his stint ended back in 1975.

The ducking was embarrassingly obvious. It called to mind what Rep. Charles Rangel, D-N.Y., said last year: "This president and this administration would never have invaded Iraq, especially on the flimsy evidence that was presented to the Congress, if indeed we had a draft, and members of Congress and the administration thought that their kids from their communities would be placed in harm's way."

Unfortunately, CNN moderator Anderson Cooper only infrequently pressed the candidates for a direct answer.

Questions posed by YouTube videos ranged from topics such as Iraq and Social Security to unusual queries about Al Gore and about Barack Obama being "black enough."

According to the format worked out in advance by CNN and YouTube, which is owned by Google, Monday evening's Democratic Party-sanctioned debate in Charleston, S.C., was based on video questions submitted by the public by Sunday evening. CNN received nearly 3,000 videos, and its editors selected 39 for use during the two-hour debate.

Many of the questions were more pointed than what traditional moderators might ask. One video, submitted by Rob Porter of Irvine, Calif., asked Clinton: "How do would you define the word 'liberal?' Would you use this word to describe yourself?"

Clinton replied that liberal "originally meant" someone who supported freedom, but "in the last 30 to 40 years, it has been turned up on its head." Clinton said she is a "modern progressive" and agreed with the moderator that she would not consider herself to be a liberal.

Another pointed question came from Jordan Williams, a black student in Kansas, who asked Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., how he would handle concerns about the senator not being "authentically black enough." (Cooper, the moderator, repeated the question and then apologized for asking it.)

Obama's response: "When I'm catching a cab in Manhattan in the past, I've given my credentials. Race permeates our society. It is still a critical problem. But I do believe in the core decency of the American people."

CONTINUED: Look voters--no hands…
Page 1 | 2

See more CNET content tagged:
Chris Dodd, candidate, YouTube, CNN, Barack Obama


Join the conversation!
Add your comment
An Historic First
Today was the first time the People were invited to participate in
presidential debates. The video questions were great, allowing a
more candid view of the candidates evan as they dodged questions.
But what was even more remarkable was the nationwide live chat
that accompanied the debate. This is web 2.0 in action. Thanks
you CNET and YouTube and the Democrats for changing political
process for the better.
Posted by ecotopian--2008 (451 comments )
Reply Link Flag
The questions sucked. The worst part was when some nut job asked about Katrina and black people, saying it was all Bush's fault. All he can do is sign a paper to tell FEMA to go ahead. The rest was FEMA's fault.
Posted by diabloadrian (2 comments )
Link Flag
Google is about to take over the media
I'v all ready made my opinion on other articles.

I Google is about to take over almost every communication tool, including cellulars industry.

I'v also made my opinion about this sale on ebay, which IMO can be very profitable..

<a class="jive-link-external" href="http://cgi.ebay.com/Google-Cellular-Google-Cell-Phone-com-8-domain-names_W0QQitemZ120144690732QQihZ002QQcategoryZ11153QQssPageNameZWDVWQQrdZ1QQcmdZViewItem" target="_newWindow">http://cgi.ebay.com/Google-Cellular-Google-Cell-Phone-com-8-domain-names_W0QQitemZ120144690732QQihZ002QQcategoryZ11153QQssPageNameZWDVWQQrdZ1QQcmdZViewItem</a>
Posted by erezhustla (14 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Rather the devil I know than the devil i don't
I'm not saying that Google's power is a good thing
but it's certainly not a bad thing.
I trust Google to honor their philosophy of "6. You can make money without doing evil."
I think of Google like... the Apple I wish we had.
Apple freaks me out... I don't really like the way the products are heading... I don't like the kind of users the company attracts that much... Steve gives me the willies.
The products work... mostly...
if what you want to do is what they want you to do.
Google feels more open...
but then again, they don't really make hardware or Operating systems, so i can't compare the two.
for now :P
Posted by PDG1 (24 comments )
Link Flag
This is nothing new
Err, this sort of asking people to give out questions in the form of YouTube vids is nothing new.

On France 24, on the Talk of Paris, one can give a clip of a question via DailyMotion to the interviewees. See <a class="jive-link-external" href="http://www.france24.com/france24Public/en/talk/Talk-of-Paris-FRANCE-24" target="_newWindow">http://www.france24.com/france24Public/en/talk/Talk-of-Paris-FRANCE-24</a>
Posted by eurobloke (19 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Winners on all fronts
The debate was a great win for everyone concerned - YouTube/Google, CNN, and the American people.

A great example of how the internet is helping break down barriers and give ordinary people a voice.
Posted by Rusty Digital Marketing (13 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Bovine reply!
Posted by Mister C (423 comments )
Link Flag
There's No Turning Back
This format was far more entertaining than any other debate I
have ever see while also be just as informative. I'm interested to
see how many people watched this debate as compared to other
debates. More importantly, I'm interested to see how many
people under 30 (the toughest demographic to get interested in
politics) who watched this debate.

This format may become stale after a while, but I think that now
that it has been done, it will be nearly impossible NOT to include
an interactive format in debate in the future.
Posted by toosday (343 comments )
Reply Link Flag
This is all Marketing BS--you're all Owned!
So Anderson Cooper sits down and writes out the questions he wants to ask on 3X5 cards.

Then You Tubed comes along and he matches the clips with the questions he wants to ask and calls it the Public asking the questions?

NO question without 5-6-7 followup questions in anything but an exercise in propaganda.
Posted by leaglebob (45 comments )
Reply Link Flag
I believe you have put that eloquently.


Posted by Mister C (423 comments )
Link Flag
One more example of the Hoax that US Media has become
1st, why the videos are posted on Googles YouTube?
They could have been posted on any web site that allows for Video upload &#38; playback, which would take about 3 days to set up. Why give this free Advertising to Google? Ah, forgot CNN (Timewarner-CNN-etc.) has Billions of Dollars in
Google Stock.

2nd, what are these BS questions that the CNN editors allowed to be posted? I mean there was not one direct question asking:
"Why don't we have Universal Health care, Universal Education,
Universal Daycare.." Like the citizens of any civilized country do (i.e., Canadian, French, Germans), who pay same or less Taxes than us? As a result of which they are getting richer &#38; richer every day which you can SIMPLY see by the ever falling Dollar compared to these countries currencies.

So this so called (censored) questions via Google YouTube edited by not elected people at CNN is just one more example of the lies, lies &#38; more lies that is the US main stream media, of which
Google &#38; Yahoo are an ever bigger participants.

If you want the real news, real information, you are not going to get it from main stream media in USA, try independent sources.
Such as for search engine: www.Anoox.com (aka www.YouSearchEngine.com)
and for news: www.therealnews.com
Posted by Dean_Ansari (61 comments )
Reply Link Flag
There were many copouts, concessions, and prearrangements that got in the way of this being as honest and monumental as it could/should have been.

Here again the powers that be interfered to protect their "innocent". Cooper also sold/wimped out by not pressing for straight complete answers. But then this follows his fiasco Anderson Copper 360, is he even on that show anymore? I loved that show until everyone except AC was anchoring.

This could have a major turning point . . . but was compromised. Although, it did break the ice and created a new venue of access and a forum that will hopefully stay and with the pressure of the American public, be pushed to be the honest and forthright platform that it should be. But then it could be just another Iraqi War if left to those that run the show.

Congrats to those that deserve it. Shame on those that compromised it. And you know who you are.
Posted by SandFarmer (29 comments )
Link Flag
Canada's taxes are substantially higher... America has low taxes relatively speaking.
Posted by volterwd (466 comments )
Link Flag
Anyone but another Bush or Clinton in 2008
I am supporting and voting for Barack Obama for President in 2008. I have lost respect for John Edwards. I don't have any respect for Hillary Clinton. Those of us who voted for Nader/Camejo in 2004 will never vote for Hillary Clinton. I have a back up plan if Obama is not the Democratic Party Presidential Candidate in 2008. I will vote for Ron Paul or for another 3rd party candidate in 2008. Anyone but another Bush or Clinton in 2008. The time has come to galvanize and throw the bums out in 2007, 2008. The Clintons and the Bushes have turned the White House into the ***** House!
James Partsch-Galvan, Candidate for Houston City Council Nov. 6, 2007 www.galvan.org
Posted by GalvanGalvan (3 comments )
Reply Link Flag
&lt;table&gt;&lt;tr&gt;&lt;td&gt;&lt;embed src="http://player.stickam.com/stickamPlayer/173943904-1004546" type="application/x-shockwave-flash" width="480" height="480" scale="noscale" wmode="transparent" allowScriptAccess="always"&gt;&lt;/embed&gt;&lt;/td&gt;&lt;/tr&gt;&lt;tr align="center"&gt;&lt;td&gt;<a href="http://www.stickam.com" target="_blank"><font size="-1">Express Yourself LIVE</font></a>&lt;/td&gt;&lt;/tr&gt;&lt;/table&gt;
Posted by GalvanGalvan (3 comments )
Link Flag
Its just PR for them , but still to see users participating
Its really nice to see users participating in this great platform, and posting their questions.

See U at my blog: www.boldinvestors.com
Posted by YHO12 (3 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Good Little Techies
How cute! All those little metros looked so cute on their little Google style bean bags. Concerned citizens who fit the Democrat template of America's future: disarmed, over-sensitive, emotionally unstable, disoriented, misinformed little kool-aid drinkers with laptops. They are laying out the red carpet for Tyranny.
Posted by Jadefa (135 comments )
Reply Link Flag
That is the best propaganda rant for the fascist state I have ever heard. Did you write that all by yourself or did Mr. Rove's crack team of disinformation specialists help you?

(hey! it worked for Adolf)
Posted by Mister C (423 comments )
Link Flag
Who picked these questions?
Where where the questions about the jobs leaving the country?
Somebody could have asked Hillary if she would erased the Republican trade treaties her husband shoved down out throats causing millions of middle class people to loose good jobs.
Posted by lyntone (45 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Holding My Nose
The whole process was a sham. Did CNN happen to mention July is a sweeps month?

The media and the politicians of both parties treat us all, young to old, as if we don't the meaning of the word "democracy" or the phrase "democratic process." Handpicked questions by those leaning so blatantly left does not a democratic process make. Nor does it serve democracy in any way shape or form.
Posted by novelator (34 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Next time, let US choose the questions!
Not CNN editors. Then we might have had questions about
synthetic terror, the ridiculous official 9/11 story and the growing
impeachment movement. Would they repeal the Federal Reserve
Act and if not, why not?

Since CNN is so heavily involved in the propaganda/fluff peddling, I
seriously doubt that they would allow or not try to thwart such a
method anyway.
Posted by Todd Templeton (69 comments )
Reply Link Flag
A fine idea... let's do it!
but crazy people that think 9/11 was "some kind of inside job" might ask that absurd question and make everyone in the US even more embarrassed than we already are with Bush. Gosh, those guys are NUTS!
Posted by OS11 (844 comments )
Link Flag
where's Apple?
You didn't mention Apple once in this,actually very good story - and I'm Australian. So where's the apple comment, this IS cnet isn't it? :)

Thanks for sparing us.
Posted by garrywdm (44 comments )
Reply Link Flag
It's interesting how it almost sounded like questions CNN would ask.
Posted by diabloadrian (2 comments )
Reply Link Flag
the worst debate this year!
This CNN/YouTube debate had to be the worst of the year. I did not like the CNN cherry picked questions that left out some of the most important issues(immigration?)facing our country and the format did not allow all of the candidates to answer all of the questions. So you had the fiery and honest Sen. Mike Gravel marginalized at the end while all of the focus was put on the Wall Street darlings; Clinton, Obama and Edwards. What a shame that our democratic process has come to this. Where mass media controls how we interact with the Presidential candidates.

I am sick and tired of CNN or some other major news organization telling us how to think and how to vote by way of propagandizing everything. At the end of the debate you had some stupid exercise where the candidates said nice things about one another! What a crock of BS! The American people deserve a heated debate on the issues not some politically correct, television friendly get together.

YouTube just lost a lot of respect on the street with this farce.
Posted by tetsuyo (50 comments )
Reply Link Flag
You are right & wrong
Most of what you wrote is very right &#38; good.
But you are totally wrong about our problem being Immigration, if you mean there are too many immigrants here or so called easy access to immigrants. In fact opposite of that is true, as demonstrated by Europe which about 5 years ago opened all borders within Europe and as a results ushered in an economic boom which has sent the Dollar plunging again Euro. What our national problem is, is that we pay same Taxes as European or Canadians but we get just about nothing for it, unless you count a gigantic military and one war after another, getting something for our taxes. All of which problems are possible and due to the Big media in US lying. and lying to the American people.
Posted by Dean_Ansari (61 comments )
Link Flag
Talk back to get tougher ...
The next thing is to have the dying grandmother on the video asking why assisted suicide is not legal.

Citizen 2.0 is just waking up.
Posted by bfrankbarnett (2 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Youtube Video
Add youtube video to your playlist and combine them all in one player that can be used on any website at www.MyTubeX.com
Posted by phelixxx (1 comment )
Reply Link Flag

Join the conversation

Add your comment

The posting of advertisements, profanity, or personal attacks is prohibited. Click here to review our Terms of Use.

What's Hot



RSS Feeds

Add headlines from CNET News to your homepage or feedreader.