Sunday, July 10, 2011

TV: Social Media Failure

Not since the Village People attempted to go New Romantic has a celebrity made such a desperate bid for attention or failed so miserably. Yes, we are referring to Barack Obama's 'Twitter' lecture last Wednesday.

goony barack

Thursday on Adam vs. the Man (RT), Adam Kokesh explained, "But the president was busy today as part of his re-election efforts -- I mean, general public outreach, hosting a Twitter town hall at the White House and apparently the questions that got through the screeners weren't very interesting, there were a lot up there. But I'm really kind of offended by this. Not-not cause Obama did something cheesy -- I mean, no big surprise there -- but that instead of doing something legitimate with this, instead of taking the opportunity to say we are going to interact with the people, give them a chance to answ - or to ask questions and answer them really at random, they were all pre-screened and basically the thing turned out to be an excuse for Obama to hold another press conference on a variety of topics without even having to answer questions from the real media. Now this was hailed as a 'historical event' and perhaps for the president doing a Twitter town hall it was. But years ago, when I was running for Congress, we did a 'twown hall' which is what you're supposed to call it when you're doing it the right way and actually answer all of the questions that people address to you. And I was wondering why are we watching President Obama talk for a Twitter town hall instead of watching him type?"

And that pretty much summed it up except to add it was enough to make you lose your appetite, if not your lunch. We were speaking in Mill Valley that day and had just gotten done on Miller Ave so we decided to try lunch at The Cantina on Blithedale to see if was really the return or still Maria Maria but hoping a name change would improve the image. The good news, it is like The Cantina's back. The bad news, the TV screen there showed Barack was still holding court.

The so-called Twitter town hall followed his April Facebook town hall but, most importantly, it followed his press conference two weeks ago, you know the one where he acted, in the words of Mark Halperin, "kind of like a dick" and let the bitchy flow? If you're late to the party, see last week's "TV: Who's the dick?"

Reporters are still trying to figure out what happened there. The attitude didn't surprise them, nor the nastiness. They've seen both more times than they can count and certainly more times than they've reported. But this was going out live and it wasn't a flash of the real Barack peeking through, it was the real Barack for a solid 15 minutes at least. The man who so carefully crafted and constructed his public image was having a Charlie Sheen type meltdown with the whole world watching.

Immediately after that p.r. nightmare, the White House announced Barack would be doing a town hall (see "The twittering Barack" and "THIS JUST IN! THE TWIT WILL TWEET!") in an attempt at changing the dicussion and at salvaging the image.

On the latter, the White House was successful. No one watching the Twit last week saw any flashes of anger -- or brilliance for that matter. They saw only one long, never-ending yawn.

It opened like the infomerical it was with a Twitter suit, co-founder Jack Dorsey, extolling his own company. Then Barack delivered banal opening remarks that were greeted with mechanical applause and laughter so carefully constructed it brought to mind a Kim Jong-Il appearance. Especially when Dorsey declared, "And I understand you want to start the conversation off with a tweeter yourself." A tweeter? After they've spent over a year and a half 'educating' the public that Twitter posts were called "tweets"? Or Barack's ridiculous claim, "It's much easier to tweet from a seated position." Uh, actually, no. It's just as easy to Tweet standing as it is sitting if you are able to do both. And Barack should know that since he learned to use Twitter back in January of last year when the American Red Cross walked him through. Barack was standing for that session. It was done on a cell phone but Barack seemed to think at his lecture last week that a PC or laptop was required to tweet.

That he would fail the science of Twitter was only surprising if you've ever bought into the lie that he is a genius or near genius. He's a man infatuated with the sound of his own voice (as the town hall again demonstrated) who has an understanding somewhere slightly above School House Rock. That Dorsey would fail the science of Twitter was not only shocking, it should send up a flare among stock holders.

Twitter is built around the belief that anything worth saying can be said in 140 characters or less. So Twitter defeats itself when it tosses aside the rules of operation in a so-called Twitter Town Hall to allow Barack to string together over 350 words in reply to a question.

The question he was filibustering was, "After embarking on a record spending binge that left us deeper in debt, where are the jobs?"

That the question got noted in the town hall itself was a problem. Not because of the wording or the topic but because of who asked it. The question came from Speaker of the House John Boehner's Twitter feed so -- barring any hacking -- it was asked by him or his staff. Boehner is among those in negotiations with the White House currently over budgetary issues. Why he was allowed to waste time at a supposed public town hall for the public goes to just what a put-on the whole non-event was.

Not everyone was taken in. Umair Haque (Harvard Business Review) explained why he wouldn't be particpating:

Sorry, Mr President: you've got the pundits, talking heads, and powers that be right where you want them (judging from the response you've gotten so far), but little old me? I'm not buying into your latest "campaign." I'm not a "target." I'm a citizen of a generation whose future is going up in smoke faster than you can say "credit default swaps." And what you're really telling me is this: in some parts of the world, social tools can fuel the revolutions that topple dictators. Here, in the nation that invented them? They're used for marketing stunts.
Me? I'm not investing my time asking "questions" of a president who wants my "engagement" (Free today only! Get yours now!) yet seems totally, utterly disengaged with anyone not sartorially and financially gifted enough to wear a $7000 suit -- "questions" that you know, I know, and my pet hamster knows will probably never have a hope in Hades of having an impact on anything except clogging up the cutting room floor.

Back to the Boehner question, Michael D. Shear (Political Snitch) counts 3,111 characters in Barack's filibuster reply to Boehner's question. And, as Kokesh noted, Barack didn't type any of these responses. He just sat there looking dull and yammering away. It made for static television, dull viewing. Even H. Ross Perot used a pointer in his 1992 network town hall but, then again, H. Ross Perot had to pay for that time whereas the fawning media treated Barack's non-event as news.

Search the transcript for some moment where Barack's actually said something that was different or new and, except for errors, you won't find anything.

But the media wasn't interested in reporting Barack's errors. Kristina Wong 'reported' on the townhall for ABC News and wanted to emphasize the five times Barack (superficially) addressed military issues including spending. She was happy to play stenographer, just not up to reporting. Which is why she quoted him droning on that, "We've ended the war in Iraq, our combat mission there, and all our troops are slated to be out by the end of this year. We've already removed 100,000. I announced that we are going to begin drawning down troops in Afghanistan and pivot to a transition process where Afghans are taking more responsibility for their defense. But we have to do all of this in a fairly gradual way."

The Iraq War has not ended and how disgusting -- but how typical -- for ABC News to print that lie and not note that 15 US soldiers died in the Iraq War last month. The Iraq War has not ended and reality busted upside ABC News' lying ass on Thursday with the news that 2 more US soldiers had just been killed in the Iraq War.

Troops are slated to be out by the end of this year? The day before Wong did her stenography, Lara Jakes (AP) reported on the negotiations the White House was having with the government of Iraq and that 10,000 is the number of US soldiers the White House is floating to keep in Iraq with an understanding that Iraq will respond by September to the offer. Jakes reports, "Already, though, the White House has worked out options to keep between 8,500 and 10,000 active-duty troops to continue training Iraqi security forces during 2012, according to senior Obama administration and U.S. military officials in interviews with The Associated Press." And Thursday the Chair of the Joint Chiefs, Adm Mike Mullen, went on record:

David Alexander (Reuters) reports that Mullen was "at a luncheon with reporters, maintained that "Iran" (presumably the government of) was supplying Shi'ite militias in Iraq with "high-tech weapons" to kill US soldiers "the forensics prove that." Any agreement to keep US troops on the ground in Iraq beyond 2011, Mullen argued, should include some provision that Iraqi forces will address this alleged supplying of weapons to Shi'ite militias. Viola Gienger (Bloomberg News) observes, "The condition for a U.S. troop extension poses a challenge to Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki, whose Shiite Muslim political party has struggled to manage Iran's political and military influence." Meanwhile Charley Keyes (CNN) puts the red across White House flunkie Jay Carney's freshly-facialed face by reporting, "Mullen confirmed that discussion are underway. 'Negotiations are ongoing,' Mullen said, adding that any final decision would be for the presidents of Iraq and the United States. He said any agreement with Iraq 'has to be done in conjunction with control of Iran'."

Being president apparently means ABC News wouldn't dream of correcting you -- no matter how big of a lie you told.

As for his claim to be "drawing down troops in Afghanistan," by 2012, according to Barack's current spin, is not as portrayed. After that 'drawdown,' there will still be more US troops in Afghanistan than were present when Barack Obama was sworn in as president.

Again, being president means ABC 'News' will forever take your side.

And being Barack means forever pretending you've done something, eternally presenting stationary as forward momentum. Looking back on it today, Will Chapman (Daily Iberian) wonders, "It was a great publicity stunt but did anyone expect much of value to come from President Barack Obama's Twitter Town Hall last week, where Twitter users could 'tweet' questions and the president would supposedly tweet back a response?"

Chapman's right but that wasn't really the point of the event. The event was supposed to wash away the image of Barack as a dick and a bitch. On that, the event was a success though we fail to see how coming off dull and boring solves the highly noticeable enthusiasm gap in Barack's re-election campaign. But then we were puzzling both over his ill-fitting suit and his decision to button it like a woman (one trying to flaunt cleavage) and not a man? Mainly we were puzzling that to the White House, the choices were Barack comes off like a dick or he comes off like a bore. Between those two extremes is not only where most of us live but also a world of possibilities.
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