Thursday, July 31, 2008

Humanitainment’s Michael Fox: The Citizentube Interview

During the heated Democratic primary battle between Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton, one of the most popular political videos to surface was a cleverly-produced mini-movie entitled "Baracky." Made up of re-edited footage from Rocky deftly overlayed with images of Obama and Clinton, the video became a web-sensation . Humanitainment, the production team behind the video, soon followed up their first effort with an equally impressive second, The Empire Strikes Barack.

This week, Humanitainment released their latest video, "The Commander In Chief Test" (see below). It's a slight departure from their earlier mini-movies, but continues their style of blending entertainment with political awareness.

Michael Fox, founder of Humanitainment, recently took time to speak with Citizentube and answer some questions.

Citizentube: What motivated you to launch Humanitainment in the first place?

Michael Fox: I’ve always wanted to make a difference. It started by going to law school with the idea of becoming a human rights lawyer. However, sometime during orientation, it became clear that the law was not for me. I started writing screenplays, finished school and then worked for a few years as an entertainment attorney. Then, one night I met a homeless man which led to the creation of a creative non-profit to raise funds and awareness for the homeless called The New Life Project. We had a big concert with Kanye West, Common and some other great artists… but the whole non-profit process became frustrating, so I returned to my interest in filmmaking with the new mission of bridging the gap between cause and creativity. What you see in The Obamacles is an early example of where we want to take that concept.

CT: What's your mission statement, if you have one?

MF: Pop culture… with a purpose.

CT: How many people are on your team?

MF: The Obamacles were created by me and two great editors, Byron Valino and Craig Meyer.

CT: Where did the idea for your "mini-political movies" come from? Who came up with the style? How long (and how much) did each of them take to produce?

MF: The idea started when, for some reason, I couldn’t get this song out of my head called “You’re the Best” from The Karate Kid. I was singing it to everybody a couple of weeks before the Pennsylvania primary. Then, I thought about the climactic scene when Daniel LaRussa does the crane technique and kicks Johnny in the face to win the tournament. I thought it would be fun to put Barack’s and Hillary’s faces on the character. Then, I looked through all my DVDs and came across Rocky. Everything flowed from there…

CT: Your videos tend to lean in favor of Obama—can you explain why you endorse him?

MF: Of all the candidates who’ve been in the race, I believe his combination of ideals and motivational abilities is best suited to address the many challenges we face.

CT: Your first video on YouTube, "Baracky," was enormously successful, and then had to be taken down from the site. Can you go into the details as to why it had to be taken down?

MF: Rocky the movie is owned by MGM and they had it taken down from YouTube. I think it may have come down to a matter of differing political views. Given the non-commercial and educational purposes of the video, I would argue that our use of the footage qualifies for the “fair use” exception in the copyright law. In any case, the internet is still in a bit of the “Wild West” phase, so the traditional notions of copyright are constantly being challenged.

CT: How do you feel YouTube has changed or effected political engagement? Could a company like yours have even existed in a pre-YouTube world?

MF: YouTube has fundamentally changed politics. In my view, it’s largely for good… but also a bit of bad. On the positive side, it provides an amazing platform for the voice of the people to be heard and potentially spread important messages throughout the country. Like Barack says, one voice can change the world. On the negative side, it also provides a forum for misinformation and fear mongering… and also amplifies the current culture of “gotcha” politics by increasing the spotlight on, and nitpicking of, every single statement a politician makes. We certainly could never have spread our current election messages in a pre-YouTube world.

CT: Where would you like Humanitainment to be five years from now?

MF: We’ll be producing what we hope will be an innovative brand of entertainment for film and TV… in addition to some activist-oriented entertainment for the web.

CT: Do you have any favorite YouTube channels?

MF: I’m a visitor of the candidates' campaign channels… and there’s this guy who basically treats the world as his personal jungle gym. He’s pretty amazing to watch.

CT: If you could send a message to aspiring political videomakers, what would you say to them?

MF: Have a point and stick to the truth… or at least the “truth” as you see it!


John McCain’s latest campaign ad, “Celeb,” is stirring quite a bit of controversy—especially in its apparent comparison of Barack Obama with Paris Hilton and Britney Spears.

The folks at Slate, recognizing an opportunity for parody when they see one, just posted this video, a re-dubbed version of Chris Crocker’s already legendary “Leave Britney Alone" video. The result: one of the most passionate (and hilarious) defenses of Obama we've seen on YouTube.

Mama Mia!!! We Pro-Choice!

Perhaps inspired by the movie Mama Mia, three ladies from the organization ProChoiceAmerica put together this music video attacking President Bush for his policies on birth control. ABBA, green screen, and political activism—-what more can you ask for in a video?

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

U.S. Congressman Becomes a Citizen Reporter

Rep. Steve Israel (D-NY) is among Capitol Hill's most savvy YouTube users. He's already uploaded nearly thirty videos to his YouTube channel, and recently served a brief stint as a citizen reporter for Why Tuesday.

Last week, Rep. Israel along with a congressional delegation traveled to New Orleans and the Gulf Coast to see what life was life for the survivors of Hurricane Katrina three years later. In his video blog of the trip (see below), Rep. Israel speaks with survivors, including one family still living in a FEMA-provided trailer, and offers his personal observations about this national tragedy. He reserves his harshest words for the insurance companies, many of whom he believes used every loop-pole they could find to avoid helping Gulf Coast residents in their most dire hour of need.

He shot all of this footage himself. That's right, a congressman acting as a citizen journalist. This is the world we live in.

Rep. Israel hopes to shine a light not only on the present plight of Katrina survivors, but on the need for other cities (including his own district of Long Island) to prepare in the event of a similar catastrophe—and ensure that what happened three years ago never happens again.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Jackie Mason: The Citizentube Interview

Jackie Mason is a comedy legend. From his appearances on The Ed Sullivan Show to winning an Emmy for his voice work on The Simpsons, Mason has managed to remain a force to be reckoned with for over four decades. And for over a year now, he's been sharing his incendiary political humor on his YouTube channel, The Ultimate Jew. A proud conservative, Mason has no problem offering his opinions and making statements that many might find politically incorrect—especially when it comes to Senator Barack Obama (in case you're wondering, he's not a fan).

Mason recently took time to answer some questions for Citizentube. You may not always agree with Mason, but as this interview confirms, the one thing you can't call him is boring.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Davis Fleetwood is Back in the Basement

After a three-month hiatus, which many of us believed was an official retirement, political vlogger Davis Fleetwood (aka the Hermit) is back. And if you thought semi-retirement might have led him to soften his style--think again.

Citizentube Interview with 23/6's Sarah Bernard

Hilarious, smart, and often politically incorrect, 23/6 is quickly becoming one of the most popular political humor outfits on the Internet. Best known for the web-sensation "It's Raining McCain," 23/6 uses today's headlines as grist for their prolific satire mill. Citizentube caught up with president Sarah Bernard on the eve of the launch of their new animated series "Get Your War On" (see the promo below) to ask her some questions.

Citizentube: How did 23/6 come into existence?

Sarah Bernard: After The Huffington Post was launched, and it was clear that it was going to stick around for a while, Arianna (Huffington) had this idea for a website where people could auction off stuff. That idea was taken, but she also had one for a funny news commentary site. The Daily Show is, of course, the gold standard, but in the age of the web, it seemed strange to have to wait around until the end of the day to get a funny take on the news. Arianna has always loved political satire, even before her days in bed (literally) with Al Franken for Comedy Central’s InDecision ’96. So she and Roy Sekoff, the editor of The Huffington Post, started thinking about how this might work. One day Arianna ran into Michael Jackson, the President of Programming for Barry Diller's IAC, and asked him what he was working on. He mentioned a project they were calling at the time "a comedy Drudge." And that's where the partnership started.

CT: Explain the process of making a 23/6 video, from coming up with the idea to posting it on the web.

SB: Like pretty much everything else on the web, it happens in a very ad hoc way. Sometimes an in-house writer will have an idea, sometimes it'll be a performer that we work with (like Jon Glaser or Eugene Mirman or Jon Benjamin), and oftentimes it will come from Brian Spinks, our head of video content. Brian will oversee the production and final edit, along with help from Holly Schlesinger. After it’s produced, we put it up and wait for obscene comments telling us it's not funny.

CT: How did "The McCain Girls" music videos come about?

SB: We wanted to create our version of those overly-earnest, amateur political videos that have been such a fad this election season. (“Hillary4U&Me” was a favorite.) We thought there was a funny idea there, and Jon Benjamin and Patrick Borelli crystallized it into The McCain Girls. Once we developed the first video, we decided to release it anonymously. A key part of the ‘YouTube star’ phenomenon is that most popular videos are made by amateurs, and we thought The McCain Girls could reach a wider audience if people didn’t realize it came from a professional humor site.

CT: Initially when "It's Raining McCain" came out, it was unclear whether this was an actual pro-McCain video, or if it was a spoof. Where do you stand?

SB: It's different every time I see it – and I've seen it a lot...What I can tell you is that to make a video that seems badly produced and edited takes a lot of editing and producing.

CT: How did "Get Your War On" come about?

SB: 23/6’s video series of “Get Your War On” is based on David Rees’ comic strip that he created in response to Operation: Enduring Freedom. The 1980’s style clip-art strip became an Internet sensation by depicting workers in generic office settings providing acute insights and critiques of U.S. Policy post-9/11, from the “liberation” of Iraq to George Bush’s plans to send astronauts to Mars. Everyone here at 23/6 is a huge fan of David’s work, and we approached him in hopes that he would let us animate the series and focus his clip-art characters to current events, including the 2008 election season. Fortunately for us, David said yes, and Flat Black Films (the animation company behind Richard Linklater’s film, “Waking Life”), Jon Glaser, and Anthony Laurent agreed to help the project.

CT: What reactions are you hoping to provoke with this new series?

SB: Informed outrage mixed with an appreciation of the absurd. And if you’ll let me quote David Rees.... “Anyone who enjoys JibJab animations will have a nervous breakdown watching these things.”

CT: How do you think political humor, especially web-based outfits like yours, The Onion, and Barely Political, has affected this year's election?

SB: It's hard to say whether it's had a strictly political effect -- though we do take full credit for Mitt Romney dropping out. That said, satire has always been a part of politics and the election carnival. This year, the integration of the web and the political process – from fundraising, organizing, advertising, getting the message out – has been one of the biggest stories of the year, and the fact that humor is part of that seems natural. One aspect that’s striking this election season is the fact that the candidates have been forced to respond to all of the online noise around them, individuals with iMovie skills + YouTube views and professional humorists alike.

CT: Any advice for fledgling political humorists?

SB: Our editor, Jason Reich, would say that you have to know what you're talking about first and also have affection for it. The key to making something simple and accessible is having a real handle on it. For us, we’re trying to make politics funny and approachable to a wide audience, but we can't do that unless we have a real grasp of the topic. And, a wide knowledge of pop culture helps, too. (We think) The McCain Girls works because Obama Girl was such a part of the pop culture conversation, and also because everyone knows what good music videos/lyrics look and sound like, and what bad ones do, too. More simply, just go after what interests you. And hope Mitt Romney gets picked for VP.

You Choose '08: Monday Hotlist

Presidential contenders under fire, Al Gore's national challenge, Red State Update unplugged, and a pregnant vlogger on why she's voting Republican in 2008. Here's this week's Monday Hotlist.

Troops (JohnMcCaindotcom)

Why I'm voting Republican in 2008 (TheFamousStacie)

John McCain's Neverending War (jedreport)

Remix: Al Gore's Challenge to Repower America (WeCanSolveIt)

Red State Update: Obama Won't Visit Injured Soldiers (travisandjonathan)

Friday, July 25, 2008

Senator Bill Frist: The Citizentube Interview

Last week, former Republican Senator Bill Frist began a ten-day humanitarian trip through Africa on behalf of Hope Through Healing Hands, an organization he helped found dedicated to improving the quality of life for communities around the world. His ten-day journey took him through Mozambique and Rwanda, where he observed the devastating effects of HIV, malaria, and diseases that in the Western world are easily treatable. By traveling through the region, visiting clinics, hospitals, and orphanages, and working with other organizations such as the ONE Campaign, Africare, and Save the Children, Senator Frist hopes to shed light on what's happening in Africa—both the good and the bad--and inspire each of us to get involved.

Senator Frist recently took the time to answer some questions for Citizentube about his trip:

Citizentube Friday Five

Obama speaks in Berlin, McCain accuses the media of bias, hip-hop artist Nas delivers thousands of petitions to Fox News, and President Bush makes some unguarded remarks that he would’ve preferred not be recorded. Check out this week’s Friday Five.

Barack Obama in Berlin (barackobamadotcom)

Barack Obama speaks before a crowd of 200,000 people in Berlin, Germany.

Obama Love (johnmccaindotcom)

Team McCain ad that charges the media with being biased toward Obama.

Nas & Give 620,000 Petitions to Fox News (colorofchange)

Famed hip-hop artist helps deliver thousands of petitions to Fox News.

Why I Am A Republican In 2008 (dkh789)

15-year old from El Dorado, Arizona endorses John McCain.

Bush describes Wall Street as "drunk" (itnnews)

President Bush makes some unguarded remarks at a Houston fundraiser.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Heath Care Video Breaks the "Rules"

This week, HeathCareForAmerica’s YouTube channel released “Insurance Company Rules,” a video that takes a humorous approach to an issue that many people don’t find funny. Filmed and put together by the comedy ensemble the Public Service Administration, the video argues that when it comes to health care, there are two sets of rules: the ones that apply to health insurance companies, and the ones that apply to everyone else:

“We decided to create the video because we wanted to highlight the outrageous practices of the insurance industry,” Levana Layendecker from Health Care For America told Citizentube. “Insurance companies get to make the rules that maximize their profits. Their profits are skyrocketing at the expense of our health. …We don't think the American people should be left alone to fend for themselves in the unregulated, bureaucratic health insurance market.”

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

You Choose Spotlight: Franken and Coleman

With so many hot congressional and senatorial races in this years
election, today we're re-launching our You Choose '08 Spotlight series
to give you access to candidates running in States across the country.

First up, the U.S. senatorial race between Senator Norm Coleman and Al Franken.

Both Coleman and Franken have agreed to answer video questions from
YouTube users, which can be submitted as responses to this call-out video:

The top 5 videos (based on rankings and view counts) will be posed to
both Coleman and Franken and their video answers will be presented
side-by-side on on August 7, 2008.

You can learn more about Coleman and Franken via their YouTube channels
( and

The DEADLINE to submit questions is July 28th - so upload yours
today. You don't have to be a Minnesotan, just a citizen who is interested
in this election.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Generation Q? Hardly.

In his "Generation Q" op-ed, New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman asserted that young activists today are a little "too quiet, too online" for their own good, and that clicks of a mouse cannot rival the vitality of an in-person movement. But what if young activists could combine the in-your-face nature of an offline campaign, with the internet's ability to spread their message to millions?

The Harvard Right to Serve Tour is using YouTube to do just that. As part of the the Tour, openly gay Harvard University students are visiting military recruitment centers across the Eastern Seaboard, trying to enlist – and uploading video footage of each encounter onto YouTube.

"We're trying to show the country the discriminatory practices that are in place, under 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell'," says lead campaign organizer and Harvard Divinity School student Jake Reitan. But in addition to that, the campaign is also demonstrating the power of what can happen when activists mix traditional tactics like sit-ins, sign-waving, and submitting to arrest, with new media methods like YouTube to amplify their cause.

Mr. Friedman: we hope you’re taking notice.

Monday, July 21, 2008

A Tale of Two Conferences

The NetRoots Nation Conference—formerly known as Yearly Kos—took place last weekend in Austin, TX. Started three years ago by Daily Kos founder Markos Moulitsas, the conference has quickly become the most impressive gathering of progressive bloggers, politicos, and activists in the country. Whether you came to rub elbows with Wesley Clark, learn about new advances in online activism, network with fellow bloggers, or sing protest songs, the conference offered a little something for everyone.

This year, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi delivered the keynote address, but with the help of a surprise guest: former vice-president Al Gore. The two discussed, among other issues, the pressing need to address climate change and implement sustainable energy solutions:

Meanwhile, not far away, another conference was taking place in Austin: the RightOnline Conference. Founded by the Americans for Prosperity as the conservative answer to NetRoots Nation, this year’s conference attracted over 500 bloggers, activists, and politicians to discuss the latest Internet trends and tools—and how conservatives can harness these to their advantage.

The video below, posted by rgratcliffe, takes us inside both conferences, and shows that while the online momentum may be with progressives this year, conservatives are taking heed—and getting mobilized.

No Longer a Small Potato

For years, the potato has been an integral part of the global food system, serving as the world's number one non-grain food commodity. Now, as food shortages around the world become more prevalent, and the price of other staple foods like wheat, maize, and rice skyrocket, the humble spud is becoming an even more important player in the international fight against hunger. That's why the United Nations has decided to give the potato its rightful due, by naming 2008 the International Year of the Potato:

The aim of the International Year of the Potato is two-fold: to raise awareness about the crucial role of the potato in agriculture and economic security around the world, especially in developing nations, and to promote sustainable potato-based systems which would provide nutritious food for present and future generations. Other organizations besides the UN are also using YouTube to pitch in and meet these objectives. For example, the Idaho Potato Commission recently launched "ITuber Take," a contest which invited potato aficionados to create and submit YouTube videos about potatoes:

In celebration, other YouTube users are offering practical advice, like expertvillage, who is educating others on how to plant, grow, and harvest potatoes, and chefs Bruce Weinstein and Mark Scarborough, authors of the Ultimate Potato book, who demonstrate an easy recipe for Indian potato curry.

In, ahem, starch contrast, if you're in the mood for a little music, you can enjoy Potato 2008 by reveling in the melodic stylings of this potato choir, which received RocketBoom recognition, or watch the classic "My Name is Potato" video performed by Italian songstress Rita Pavone. And if you like your baked potato with sour cream, chives, and a dash of the ridiculous, you may want to explore this "Conan O'Brien"-led potato dance posse, which puts Michael Flatley to shame.

For more on how YouTube users are taking this opportunity to celebrate their carb-laden pal, take a look at the full playlist of "YouTuberlicious" videos:

You Choose ’08: Monday Hotlist

Obama visits Kuwait, Washington’s GOP party shows their “pride,” and MoveOn.Org challenges McCain on the economy. Check out this week’s Monday Hotlist.

Senator Obama With U.S. Troops in Kuwait (MilitaryNewsNetwork)

Proud (WAGOP)

All in your head (karinmoveon)

Voting Myths - Revealed by hot girl (CitizenKate2007)

Why A Republican in 2008 (mattgee24)

Friday, July 18, 2008

CitizenTube Friday Five

Recently released footage from Guantanamo Bay, a gaffe re-mix, an election parody, and a tutorial for McCain from Mr. "Video Professor"--it's all part of this week's Friday Five.

Time for Some Campaignin' (jibjab)

The folks at JibJab return with a hilarious parody of the 2008 presidential race.

"One Thing" (ColemanforSenate)

Campaign ad for Minnesota Senator Norm Coleman's re-election campaign.

McCain Finds Video Professor (jbringham1)

Video that pokes fun at McCain’s admitted lack of computer proficiency. Campaign Gaffe Remix (twentythreesix)

Humorous re-mix of this year’s most memorable presidential candidate gaffes.

Guantanamo Bay interrogation video released - 15 July 08 (AlJazeeraEnglish)

News story featuring footage of a Canadian prisoner being interrogated at Guantanamo Bay.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

McCain posts documentary on Obama to YouTube

In the last several weeks, there's been a surge of activity on John McCain’s YouTube channel. From their innovative strategy briefing, to their popular “Dr. No” video, Team McCain is ramping it up.

Today, Team McCain released a new video entitled "The Obama Iraq Documentary: Whatever the Politics Demand." Running nearly eight minutes, the video outlines Obama's various positions and statements on Iraq from early 2007 to the present. Too long for TV, this "contrast documentary" is perfectly suited for the Internet—and could perhaps be the first of its kind.

An Environmental Slice of the Hill on YouTube

You may have heard about Al Gore's speech today on climate change and the need for sustainable solutions to our energy crisis (see above). What you may not know is that for nearly three months, EnergyEnvironmentTV's YouTube channel has been highlighting these issues in an effort to raise public awareness about current U.S. energy and environmental policies.

Manned by CongressionalVideo.Com, the channel features hundreds of videos related to these issues. From hearings on energy speculation and the global food crisis, to testimony from policy wonks and Hollywood celebrities (see below), to candid sit-downs with congressional leaders like Senate Majority leader Harry Reid, the channel is an informative look at the wide variety of challenges we face in these areas.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

New Yorker Cover…of John McCain?

In light of the controversy surrounding this week's cover of The New Yorker featuring Barack and Michelle Obama, it comes as no surprise that the folks over at Barely Political would jump on the story and use it for their own satirical purposes.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Obama: the Lil Wayne Remix

If you’re up on the latest trends, you’ll know that Lil Wayne’s hot single “A Millie” is inspiring hosts of tributes and parodies around the Internet. One of the most entertaining (and political) comes from aptistheman, who turned Lil Wayne’s catchy rap into an anthem for Barack Obama:

British PM Digs Digital Discussion

Since April 2007, 10 Downing Street has had a presence on YouTube, attracting over 5,000 subscribers and more than half-a-million channel views. But when Gordon Brown took over from Prime Minister Tony Blair in June of that same year, many observers assumed he would not take to the YouTube environment so readily.

Boy, were they wrong.

In May 2008, Brown launched the first round of his "Ask the PM" initiative, calling upon UK citizens to submit video questions to him through his YouTube channel. Citizens posed their questions, viewers voted--and now the PM has responded. Of the 300 videos submitted, eight rose to the head of the poll, resulting in Brown addressing issues such as taxation, crime, the environment, and civil liberties. He also fielded a request from 14-year-old Adam Kaye who, far from exhibiting apathy, is keen to get involved in the political process as soon as possible:

Brown enjoyed the process so much that the Downing Street channel is already accepting a second round of questions – this time focusing on the 60th Anniversary of the founding of the NHS and its future role in British life. But be quick – voting is set to begin on July 14.

(original post written by Jamie Dolling)

College Republicans Go Cross-Country

Launched earlier this month by the College Republican National Committee, "Where is the Red?" is a grassroots project dedicated to re-energizing young Republicans about their party and its core values. For the next three months, four college Republicans will travel from coast-to-coast volunteering for various campaigns and seeking to register new GOP voters—without ever stopping in a Democrat controlled (blue) district. Watch this video to meet the "Where Is the Red?" crew:

The project aims to show the extent and diversity of the Republican party, as well as counter the idea, prevalent in the media, that young people aren’t excited about a John McCain presidency. As one of the "Where is the Red?" volunteers, Jeremy from Oxford, OH explains, “The Democrats have their blocks in the Northeast and some areas out West. But Republicans represent real people all over this country.”

Continue to visit their website and YouTube channel for frequent updates from the road.

Monday, July 14, 2008

America's #1 Neighbor

Today the RNC’S official blog announced that John Merguerian from Van Nuys, CA won the GOP’s American Neighbor Volunteer Contest on YouTube. Merguerian’s video profile of Jason Gilde , a college student dedicated to fighting poverty in Africa, nudged out four other contenders to take the top prize as the best example of selfless service. If you haven’t seen the video yet, check it out:

Both Megureian and Gilde will be invited to attend the Republican National Convention in September, where the video will be screened for all the world to see.

Congratulations also to the other finalists, including user FXwakeboard, whose video “Once a Marine,” was selected as first runner-up.

RNC Opens Its Platform to the Web

In a very tech-savvy move, the Grand Old Party has launched GOP Platform 2008, a new website inviting one and all to contribute their ideas for the Republican Party Platform before the Convention in September. The online discussion forum encourages Republicans to weigh-in on the issues that matter to them most. Anyone who has registered and created an account on the site can post their suggestions for the Republican National Convention using either text or video (via YouTube) and can comment on and discuss ideas posted by others, too.

In addition to the interactive elements, the site as a whole has a very web 2.0-y feel to it -- with an appealing, easily-navigable interface, video introductions from the RNC Chairman Mike Duncan and Platform co-chairs Senator Richard Burr and Congressman Kevin McCathry, as well as a call-out for visitors to add the Republican Platform Committee Facebook app to their profile.

By leveraging an open platform framework and utilizing social media networks like YouTube and Facebook, the RNC is showing their determination to narrow the Dems' lead in web-based politics. Last Friday's unveiling of followed the announcement earlier in the week that the Democrats would allow supporters to participate in shaping their party platform by hosting in-person meetings in every state from July 19 - 27. There's no question that the GOP's new initiative -- which encourages anyone with internet access to chime in from wherever they are -- opens up the political system much further. "We hope that this process will guarantee the greatest amount of public input into any platform in American history!" the RNC announces on the homepage.

According to the RNC, as of this posting (noon PST on Monday) there are already 2,761 platform ideas submitted in text, and 36 in video. This is an ambitious, inspiring effort on the part of the Republicans. But the real judgment should come when the GOP can illustrate exactly how they incorporated the feedback they received from voters as they develop the party platform before convening in September.

You Choose ’08: Monday Hotlist

A new McCain ad targets Latinos, Jackie Mason zeroes in on Obama, Mike Gravel aims for democratic reform, and the Rockabelles are back. Here’s this week’s Monday Hotlist.

NI4Office (gravel2008)

McCain TV Ad: God's Children (Spanish) (johnmccaindotcom)

Get Out The Vote, by The Rockabelles (Sailmariner)

Jackie Mason '08 Vlog 44 Obama's Flip-Flops (TheUltimateJew)

Bernie Mac makes off-color joke at Obama Fundraiser! (asathecomic)

Saturday, July 12, 2008

No more Ointment

Steve Tatum, news man on YouTube, said goodbye this week. After 562 episodes, the guy deserves a breather. His show, "The Ointment", went live to YouTube every weekday. We'll miss his suits and the faux city skyline background.

Here's the final show:

Friday, July 11, 2008

CitizenTube Friday Five

A librarian gets booted from a McCain event, the RNC goes after Obama's message of "change," and the media goes "nuts" over Jesse Jackson. Here's this week's Friday Five.

John McCain Kicks Librarian Out of Town Hall Event (caltrider)

A woman finds herself ousted from a John McCain event.

Chris Koster's "Favorite Things" (HarrisforMissouri)

Missourians sing a list of Attorney General Chris Koster's "Favorite Things."

Home on Leave (gettyimages)

Intimate portrait of a U.S. soldier, his wife, and the sacrifices of service. Nuts (twentythreesix)

Parody of media coverage of Jesse Jackson’s most recent verbal faux pas.

Obama's Iraq Problem: Change That Works For Him (rnc)

Latest RNC ad criticizing Obama for his “change” of position on Iraq.

Launched: YouTube's Conventions Program

Through unprecedented partnerships with both the Democratic and Republican National Conventions, we just debuted a video contest that will send one talented winner from each side of the aisle onto their candidate's campaign trail, and ultimately into their party's national convention in Denver or Minneapolis-St. Paul.

The call to action is simple: submit a video explaining why you're a Democrat or Republican in 2008 - the five most compelling and creative videos selected by each Convention will be voted on by the YouTube community who will determine the final winner.

Learn more in these two videos, featuring the Chairmen of both parties:

These contests are a part of our larger partnership with the Democratic and Republican National Conventions. As the "Official Search and Online Video Community Provider", Google and YouTube are contributing a broad range of technology and services to help delegates, members of the media and interested citizens around the country to access Convention events and information.

On YouTube, the two Convention staffs have been busy posting videos to build buzz about the exciting events in Denver and Minneapolis-St. Paul this summer - like speeches from great moments in convention history.

Check out YouTube's Convention Headquarters and submit your video to the contest today. It's your chance to get involved in what promises to be two of the most exciting political events this summer.

-Steve Grove

[cross posted on the Google blog]

Thursday, July 10, 2008

CitizenTube Interview: Roy Sekoff of The Huffington Post

Founded in 2005 by Arianna Huffington, The Huffington Post has grown from a small collective of bloggers to a massive operation of reporters, celebrity commentators, and citizen journalists—and like its conservative counterpart the Drudge Report, it has become a go-to Internet source for news and opinion. In recognition of its achievement, the Huffington Post received the 2006 and 2007 Webby Awards for Best Politics Blog.

One of the people responsible for the site's success is Roy Sekoff, Founding Editor of the Huffington Post and a frequent political contributor to MSNBC. Sekoff recently took time to answer some questions for CitizenTube about the Huffington Post's beginnings, their citizen journalist project "Off the Bus," and the ethics of journalism in the YouTube age.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

CitizenTube Debates: Gun Control

Today we’re launching a new feature on our blog: CitizenTube Debates. The concept is to bring together YouTube users with unique or opposing viewpoints to debate hot-button political issues--and to watch what happens!

In our first installment, users Joe Felice and The Resident met up in New York to discuss gun control. While it’s obvious they had a fun time making the video—as evidenced by their outtakes—it’s also clear they share different opinions about the 2nd Amendment.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Oilman makes wind on YouTube

If you check Google Trends everyday like I do, you'll notice that the top three search terms entered into today all have to do with one man: T. Boone Pickens. Pickens is a Texas oilman who today launched a public awareness campaign aimed at cutting America's dependence on foreign oil by more than a third in the next decade.

Though he made his fortune in the oil market (at an estimated net worth of $3 billion, Pickens is listed as Forbes 117th richest American), Pickens solution to the the energy crisis is more focused on wind power.

In a profile in the USA Today, Pickens says,

"We're paying $700 billion a year for foreign oil. It's breaking us as a nation, and I want to elevate that question to the presidential debate, to make it the No. 1 issue of the campaign this year."

Like any good 21st-century communications strategy, Pickens plan to raise public consciousness on the issue goes beyond just TV (though his PR man tells the USA today that he is aiming to get his face on TV as much as the presidential candidates) - and is taking his message to YouTube. He just launched his "pickensplan" YouTube channel today, and in videos like this one, he explains how the U.S. can wean itself off of foreign oil.

Monday, July 7, 2008

You Choose '08: Monday Hotlist

McCain's "Purpose," Gravel's "Declaration," and a U.S. veterans group's challenge - here's this week's Monday Hotlist.

John McCain TV Ad: Purpose (johnmccaindotcom)

Declaration of Independence 2008 (gravel2008)

Energy Independence Day (AmericanSolutions)

Finish the Job (VetsForFreedomVideo)

Introducing Young Americans Voting for Democrats (youngdems)

Friday, July 4, 2008

July 4 Special: The Best of Campaign 2008

Exactly four months from today, Americans will vote to elect the next President of the United States. To honor Independence Day, PoliticsTV posted their July 4 Special: 2008's Best Campaign Web Videos So Far -- a sequel to 2008: A Web Video Odyssey, which they released in May 2007.

The producers of PoliticsTV have looked back at the last year in political web video and put together the highlight reel of all highlight reels. Here are the most memorable moments in YouTube politics... in less than seven minutes.

GOP Convention: "These are your American Neighbors"

The GOP team in St. Paul that is furiously preparing for the 2008 Republican National Convention has selected the five finalists for its "American Neighbor" YouTube Contest. The contest called upon You Tube users to submit videos profiling everyday citizens who represent the best of the American spirit – citizens who put service to others before themselves. Starting today, you can vote for your favorite video on the GOP Convention's YouTube channel.

Four of the five videos profile army veterans and current members of the U.S. Armed Forces. We meet people such as Judson Hemperley, who served as a medic during World War II, and David Hale, a physician who's already served two tours in Iraq.

We meet Terry Sladic, who can boast to being the oldest serving captain in the U.S. Marine Corps – and to not losing a single member of the 177 marines and 8 sailors who were under his command.

We meet Chase Lucas, a 9-year old aspiring aviator who pays a heartfelt tribute to the men and women of the U.S. military.

And finally, we meet Jason Gilde, a young premed student dedicated to educating poverty-stricken children in Kibera and Kenya. His work on the Africa Dream Project is the stuff of inspiration.

Check back here on July 14th to find out who'll take home the grand prize: a trip to the GOP Convention in September.

CitizenTube Friday Five

A respected general causes a media frenzy, a noted journalist undergoes waterboarding, McCain vogues with Madonna, and a top-secret phone conversation gets "leaked." Here's this week's Friday Five.

Barack Obama and Bill Clinton Phone Call Leaked (barelypolitical)

Barack and Bill bury the hatchet...with a little help from Barely Political.

TPMtv: Wesley Clark Hyperventorama (Veracifier)

Mashup of media reactions to Clark's recent statements about John McCain.

Vietnam Smiles... (mccainblogette)

Meghan and Cindy McCain travel to Vietnam in support of Operation Smile.

Watch Christopher Hitchens Get Waterboarded (VanityFairMagazine)

Noted journalist subjects himself to controversial interrogation technique.

Project Make McCain Exciting: Gray Ambition (DarrylStarberry)

Through the magic of green screen, John McCain strikes a pose with Madonna.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Unions Wield YouTube for Politics

With the U.S. economy in its current fragile state, union organizations are increasingly turning to the Internet to spread their message. Recognized as having tremendous sway over their members, unions all over the country have been keeping a close eye on this year’s presidential race, and are using every means available to ensure that their concerns are addressed—from protesting and petitioning…to posting videos on YouTube.

One such example is TakeBackOhio's YouTube channel, which focuses on the issues that are important to working class families in that state: solid jobs, decent wages, affordable health care, and the right to organize. In their videos, we hear from average workers, local politicians, and union leaders, like this one featuring Timothy Litman, Business Manager for IRON 550.

Another channel in this vein is palabor08, which focuses on issues specific to union workers in Pennsylvania. In this video, BCTGM Local 464 member Peter Wingerter talks about the impact of policies such as NAFTA – and reserves some harsh words for Senator John McCain.

Finally, user robertgalinsky has started a project called Blue Collar For Obama, an interview series featuring union and blue collar workers in New York. Watch this interview with Michael, a former Hillary Clinton supporter, who explains why he’s now supporting the Illinois Senator.

PBS uses YouTube to change TV

You may not think of public broadcast television at the cutting edge of innovation, but PBS is proving otherwise. A trio of traditional media organizations, including PBS, The New Republic, and the National Review, are teaming up with social news site Reddit to create an experimental new interactive news program called YourWeek that allows people to actively participate in determining what news stories get reported.

Using Reddit, which allows users to vote stories up and down and have conversations around particular items, YourWeek producers, "search out the smartest conversation and stories from your world" and use the wisdom of crowds to determine what stories they should cover.

Basically, it's "the traditional weekly "story meeting" with 10,000 people (or more) instead of just the small editorial staff," said Erik Martin, the online producer for YourWeek, who took the time to explain the start-up's strategy to Citizentube.

"We'll post questions to the Reddit community, ask them for the best angles on stories, or just ask them which headlines from the front page they'd like to see explored on the show."

The YourWeek team then posts drafts of each of the video story segments online (here on YouTube) and solicits feedback from the community, which they then incorporate into the final version of the episode. After the show is completed, the discussion continues back on the web and users can start suggesting content for the next episode.

"Ideally," Alexis Ohanian, co-founder of Reddit, told us, "it's 24-7 news program that marries the quality of PBS journalism with the vast resources and timeliness of the Internet."

YourWeek is still in beta, so it's hard to say if this is the future of television just yet -- but our curiosity is highly piqued. Stay tuned!

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Hillary Scrubs Website of Anti-Obama Ads

The Washington Times just reported that Hillary Clinton has scrubbed her website and YouTube channel of all negative ads against Barack Obama. That's right—gone is the infamous "Children" ad, gone is the ad featuring Pennsylvania voters expressing their outrage over Obama's "bitter" comment, gone are all traces of her "kitchen sink" approach that sought to portray the Illinois senator in an unflattering flight. This move is Clinton's latest effort to restore party unity and shore up support for Obama after their long primary battle. However, it remains unclear whether erasing these videos will erase the animosity that many of Clinton's 18 million supporters continue to feel. To read more, check out The Washington Times article.

Message to Senator Edwards: you may want to follow suit...

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Tag, You’re It! – Register Someone to Vote

In one of the more original uses of YouTube during this election season, user JoeFelice has launched what he calls the Voter Vlog Project. The concept: register someone to vote, then make a video response "tagging" other YouTube users to do the same. Joe's mission is to inspire the YouTube community to register as many new voters as possible before the general election in November. Check out Joe's call-out video:

Several YouTube users have already responded to Joe's voter vlog challenge, including EmergencyCheese (aka Politico's James Kotecki):

...and TheResident:

MayorTV Seeks to Reframe Political Debate

The Nation and the Drum Major Institute have joined forces to launch MayorTV, a new web series featuring interviews with mayors from all across the country. MayorTV’s mission is to generate a conversation about urban issues in this year’s presidential campaign — issues that all too often get lost in the midst of a general election where other concerns take center stage.

“MayorTV came about from the relatively simple realization that urban issues just haven’t been talked about at a national level for quite a few years now,” Harry Moroz from the Drum Major Institute told CitizenTube. “And, when we stopped to think about it, common political rhetoric had come to portray urban issues as synonymous with poverty, minorities, and crime.”

Hoping to change that perception, and influence future public policy, MayorTV has put together an impressive roster of interviewees, including Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, Miami Mayor Manny Diaz, Baltimore Mayor Sheila Dixon, and most recently (see below) Richmond Mayor and former Virginia Governor Douglas Wilder.

Moroz continues: “Our goal is to press Senator Obama to keep and Senator McCain to start talking about cities (and to do so in public, of course). At the same time, our goal is to highlight the innovative policymaking that is occurring at the city and local level as examples of why the presidential candidates should view cities as solutions.”