Friday, December 12, 2008

The YouTube Elections by: Carly Perez and Jennifer Donegan


The most important political venue of the year wasn’t the Pepsi Center in Denver, CO where the Democratic National Convention (DNC) was held, nor was it the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul, Minnesota. You could guess that it was maybe one of the cities that held the Presidential debates, but you would be wrong. In fact, the most important political venue during this past 2008 Presidential election was right in everyone’s hands, YouTube. Between the political commercials that were posted by each, the republican and the democratic campaigns, and the user generated videos; YouTube has become a phenomenon and a huge player in politics.
Two of the most viewed videos of the 2008 Presidential Election were “Yes We Can” and “Dear Mr. Obama.” The celebrity packed “music-video” “Yes We Can” was inspired by President Elect Barack Obama’s concession speech given in the New Hampshire Primary on the 8th of January, 2008; the video is a repetitive and uplifting compilation of artists pouring their soul into those three very inspirational words, “Yes We Can.” This video was created by will-i-am and Jesse Dylan, Bob Dylan’s son, and aided with the collaboration of countless other famous and not-so-famous names was not a part of the Obama campaign. Its music-video style was targeted toward the young voter, to spread the word of “Change”, “Hope”, and what it means to vote.
The second viral video on YouTube that has generated the most “hits” during the 2008 election until now is the video, “Dear Mr. Obama”. This video, written, directed and produced by YouTube username “weneedmccain”, or Michael C. Brown, is a video of an injured American soldier speaking directly to the camera or, “Mr. Obama”. His speech is pointed towards President Elect Obama about the disrespect “he” feels that Obama expressed to millions of Americans when he called the war in Iraq a “mistake.”
Our content analysis of “Yes We Can” and “Dear Mr. Obama,” was broken down into two categories, the video content and the content within the comments for each video. Then within the two categories we evaluated them by the number of times they mentioned the presidential candidates, the amount the videos touched on the major issues of the election (the Iraq war, healthcare, economy, terrorism), and finally, we looked at the frequency of election “buzz words” (change, hope, and freedom).
Our content analysis was driven by our studies’ research questions:
• What were the issues addressed in the video content?
• How did viewers respond to these videos through comments?
• Is the YouTube content and the comments of these two videos reflective of the trends that occurred during the election?
Through our content analysis and answering of our research questions, we find conclusive evidence of major trends that occurred during this presidential election that were mirrored in YouTube and the media.

Literature Review/Background:

No longer relying on the daily newspaper and nightly broadcast, news consumers are now looking to the Internet as their dominant news source. In a 2008 study, the Pew Research Center found that before the primaries began 24 percent of Americans said they regularly learned something about the campaign from the Internet; almost double the percentage from a comparable point in the 2004 campaign.3 And more specific to the Internet, Web 2.0 has shown considerable impact on public consumption. Web 2.0 is a term used to describe the evolution of the World Wide Web, which has become an interactive conversation through social networking sites, blogs, and YouTube. With the mass popularity of the Internet and Web 2.0, their main following however, is from young people. Within the same Pew study eight percent of persons under the age of 30 citied YouTube as a campaign news source. YouTube, which is the fourth top site in the United States and has a traffic ranking of three according to the Alexa Web Information Company was having a significant impact on the way people formed their opinions on the election.
Signs of YouTube’s impact on the presidential election began as early as the summer of 2006, a time when during a typical election activity would have been limited. But this year was anything but typical, as one wrong word, mispronunciation, and regretful remark was quickly posted on YouTube and available for the masses to be played again and again and again.
This degree of availability on YouTube created an unattainable standard of perfection expected by the candidates and as a result would cost a candidate the race before it even truly began. This made the candidates need to get things right the first time crucial. In the New York Times article, “The YouTube Election,” the political arena was quick to criticize this new expectation marked by YouTube. “What’s happened is that politicians now have to be perfect from Day 1,” said Matthew Dowd, a strategist for President Bush in the article. A senior adviser to Senator Hillary Clinton added to Dowd’s point saying, “It is a continuation of a trend in which politicians have to assume they are on live TV all the time.”
This presidential election crossed new territory on all fronts. But YouTube was always at the forefront, which was evident when both the democratic and republic parties participated in the first-ever CNN YouTube debates during the summer of 2007. The YouTube debates made history; for the first time ever user-generated videos were used to ask the candidates questions. “YouTube enables voters and candidates to communicate in a way that simply was not possible during the last election,” said Chad Hurley, CEO and co-founder of YouTube in the online CNN article, “Your Voice to be Heard in Historic Debate.” “For the first time in the history of presidential debates, voters from around the country will be able to ask the future president of the United States a question in a video form and hear the answer.”
The YouTube debates were an early indication of the candidate’s ability to work with YouTube. Both McCain and Obama have and had throughout the duration of the election their own YouTube channels featuring speeches, events, and TV ads. Obama specifically took advantage of YouTube’s capabilities. During the primaries, Obama’s pastor Rev. Jeremiah Wright was harshly criticized for his outspoken and highly controversial sermons. Many of Wright’s reckless sermons were posted on YouTube only aiding to the public’s distain for him, which was negatively impacting Obama. Obama however, fired right back with a rebuttal YouTube video of a speech he had made in Philadelphia. Obama’s quick response to the controversy through YouTube calmed the ciaos and attracted 5.3 million viewers.4
The progression of YouTube’s impact was evident up until the final months of the election. Initially reporting 24 percent for Americans who watched political YouTube videos, the Pew Research Center found that that number had increased to 39 percent by late October. The American public was taking an active role through YouTube by consuming and producing content for the first time in history. On the day of the election, 28 percent of voters said they had watched candidate’s speeches online.3 YouTube’s role throughout the course of this election was groundbreaking as candidates and the public took advantage of expressing their views and opinions like never before.
Our study focuses on user generated YouTube content. Specifically, a content analysis of the two most popular user-generated viral videos during the time of the election with no political affiliation, “Yes We Can” and “Dear Mr. Obama.”
Description of Video Content and Comment Content:
“Yes We Can” was released to the public viewers of YouTube on February 2nd, 2008 by will-i-am, a political activist musician and member of the popular music group The Black Eyed Peas. “Yes We Can,” is a four minute and 30 second long stylized music video and was awarded the first-ever Emmy Award for Best New Approaches in Daytime Entertainment.
The lyrics of this video are entirely derived from Barack Obama’s inspirational speech in New Hampshire. Musicians and actors echo Obama’s words, as his voice is a constant in the background. Produced by will-i-am and directed by Bob Dylan’s son, Jesse Dylan, this video was an asset to Obama’s campaign that combined the methods of education, inspiration, and celebrity in a fashion that was able to reach out to the youth vote.
Since it’s release on the YouTube channel WeCan08, the video “Yes We Can” has received over 14,419,306 viewers and is growing in viewership at a rate of about 300 or more viewers per twenty minutes. (12/7/2008). The channel itself has 4,827 subscribers, 104,355 channel views and about 1,176 “friends.” “Yes We Can,” has created strong reactions from viewers with a total of 87,507 comments. The following is a comment on “Yes We Can,” posted a month ago by YouTube user “bigpotatofive:”
I believe in Obama, but there is still plenty to fear, we cannot sit back and watch until the work is done and there truly is change. People take it for granted that even though Bush brought many problems, he kept America safe. Our enemies are patient and once we let our guard down, I will be disappointed but not surprised if we are attacked again. Don’t let your guard down.
“Dear Mr. Obama” is a short minute and 55 second video that pacts a powerful punch. The video features Sgt. Joe Cook, an Iraqi veteran, addressing Obama and his disrespectful comments towards the Iraq war. An excerpt from “Dear Mr. Obama” is as follows:
When you call the Iraqi war a mistake you disrespect the service and sacrifice of everyone who has died promoting freedom… Because you do not understand or appreciate these principles Sir, I am supporting Senator John McCain for president.
The video concludes with the veteran walking away revealing that he is an amputee, then the closing message appears, which reads, “John McCain for President, the day we lose our will to fight is the day we lose our freedom.” “Dear Mr. Obama,” was written, directed, and produced by Michael C. Brown, who goes by the YouTube alias, weneedmccain. Brown’s main reasons for creating “Dear Mr. Obama,” circulates around four main points; It is wrong for elected officials to call the war a mistake, officials complaining about the war is a moot point because neither candidate will be able to pull the troops out of Iraq for at least two years, the historical aspect of freedom and the fight against Tierney is what the United States is based upon and, the final point is to support the troops and their mission until they are able to come home.
“Dear Mr. Obama,” has received 13, 381, 492 views to date, has a four star rating, 47,266 ratings, and 3,234 comments. “Dear Mr. Obama” runs on Brown’s YouTube channel “weneedmccain.” The channel itself has 4,604 subscribers and 204,794 channel views. Because of the strong message that “Dear Mr. Obama” provides, comments were highly opinionated. The following is a comment posted by “msw47” a month ago:
The Iraq war has had such a negative view from the media. Quite a few Democrats believe they know everything that’s going on over there, which is not true for the most part. We need to finish the job so that leaders like Saddam don’t rise up again. The Iraqi government needs to stabilize itself in order for this not to happen again. I would’ve voted third party, but I just had to send a message to Obama that I am not supportive of his presidency.

With the content of “Yes We Can” and “Dear Mr. Obama” and the viewer reactions reflected in the comments we attempted to answer three research questions that shaped our study:
• What were the issues addressed in the video content?
• How did viewers respond to these videos through comments?
• Is the YouTube content and the comments of these two videos reflective of the trends that occurred during the election?
This study focuses on how the content of the videos and the viewers comments are reflective of overall trends of the election which are; The strong themes of hope and change synonymous with Obama and the “Obama obsession,” which has been evident in the media’s focus on him rather than McCain. The aim was to see how these videos and comments are reflective of these themes and trends, which we’ve been seeing all throughout this election year.
Our content analysis was broken down into two categories, the video content and the content within the comments for each video (we took a sample of the first 50 comments for each video). Within the two categories we evaluated them by the number of times they mentioned the presidential candidates, the amount the videos touched on the major issues of the election (the Iraq war, healthcare, economy, terrorism), and finally, we looked at the frequency of election “buzz words” (change, hope, and freedom).
To our knowledge, this type of research has never been conducted before which presented some challenges. One of the major challenges we faced was the inconsistent amount of comments, because comments were constantly being added. Because of this factor we decided to time stamp when we began evaluating the comments. The following is an example of our content analysis coding which we used to analyze each video:
Video: Dear Mr. Obama
Length: 13, 341, 957
Views: 47, 052
Comments: 3,234
Video Content
Mention of Candidates:
Obama: 1

Issues Mentioned:
Iraq War: 2
Terrorism: 1

Buzz Words:
Hope: 1
Freedom: 6
Vote: 0
Video Comments
Total: 50
In support of the video: 44
Not in support of the video: 6

Mention of Candidates:
Obama: 33
McCain: 38

Issues Mentioned:
Iraq War: 12
Terrorism: 5
Economy: 0
Health-Care: 0

Through our content analysis of “Dear Mr. Obama,” we found that the content of the video focused on the war and freeing the Iraqi people (figure 1.1). Figure 1.2 shows that the majority of the comments focused on the candidates with Obama having a 31 percent chance of mention and McCain having a 37 percent chance. Through our analysis of “Yes We Can,” we found that the content of the video overwhelmingly focused on the idea of change (figure 1.3). Figure 1.4 demonstrates that the comments for “Yes We Can” had a strong mention of Obama at 69 percent followed by a 22 percent chance of mentioning change.
While researching the viewer comments we found that the “Dear Mr. Obama” video had many more elaborate and educated comments from viewers that seemed to be genuinely interested in why the video creator created the video and what his thoughts were on certain subjects of the campaign. The comment board became a sort of “chat room” with many YouTube users repeatedly making comments as viewers expressed their thoughts and opinions to one another while being able to maintain an educated reproach. Overall the comments were in strong support of the video’s message and in strong support for McCain.
Although there were educated comments made for the “Yes We Can” video, the comments were much more reactive and off the wall. Many of the viewer comments were much more passionate than that of the “Dear Mr. Obama” video. Countless videos were cheers like “GO OBAMA” or very negative remarks against Obama. Overall however, the comments were mainly positive towards the video and its message.
Our study reveals that the content of the “Dear Mr. Obama” video focused on the war and Iraqi freedom, which correlated with the comments that focused on McCain and the need to vote. However, even with a 37 percent mention of McCain in the comments we found it interesting that a video in support of McCain was actually being directed towards Obama. And viewers made mention of Obama in their comments only six percent less times than McCain, although it was a video with a republican backing.
The content of the “Yes We Can” video focused on change, which correlated with the amount of comments that mentioned Obama (at 69 percent). Change was of course, the cornerstone of the Obama campaign in order to distinguish himself from President Bush and his failing policies.
This evidence answers our research question of “is the YouTube content and comments of these two videos reflective of the trends that occurred during the election?” The answer is “yes.” Overall the video content and the content within the comments were reflective of trends occurring in the mainstream media throughout the election; that is the landslide of coverage on Obama rather than McCain and the theme of change. Even when a video was in support of McCain, it is still directed towards Obama, and although the comments for “Dear Mr. Obama” were overwhelming in support of the message, Obama still had a high instance of relevance as viewers were more likely to debate the two candidates. This was not true for “Yes We Can,” where there was only a six percent mention of McCain while Obama was mentioned 69 percent of the time.
In conclusion we found that YouTube was a very effective tool in the elections especially for Obama and that the videos we analyzed were reflective of mainstream media.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Jenn's and Carly's Research Proposal on New Media and Election 08

This Presidential election has been like no other with the presence and importance of the Internet. Web 2.0 has created an elaborate tapestry that has woven its way through the minds of millions of Americans and the way they formed their opinion on this year's candidates. With the capacity to reach millions, youtube, facebook, and blogs have changed the game for the race to the white house. Our study sharpens the lens on this "new media" and how it shaped this historic election.
Our study will focus on the effects and effectiveness of new media. That is, the consequences of web 2.0, intended or not and the success it has had with it's intended objectives, such as attracting large audiences and influencing the opinions and behaviors of the public. We will interpret the effects and effectiveness of new media through three main avenues of popularity, youtube, facebook, and blogs.
Our research questions for this study include:
• What were the positive and negative effects of new media on the presidential candidates of 2008?
• Which presidential campaign was most effective in their use of new media?
• What area of web 2.0-facebook, youtube, or blogs, has had the greatest influence on the public, and why?
Our study is significantly relevant because this is the first election where anyone and everyone have been given the opportunity to stand on a virtual soapbox to spout their political ideals and contribute to the overall conversation. New media is rising in popularity extremely fast, youtube, facebook, and (a search engine for blogs) are all within the top ten for the list of the top 500 sites on the web ( The public is contributing to these sites in record numbers; 70% of Americans logged into the Internet and 20% users worldwide ( the reach is only continuing to expand as technology becomes more accessible. YouTube, for example, became more accessible through the launch of YouTube Mobile available through a web interface at And since last summer, the public has been able to connect to YouTube on Apple TV and on the iPhone via Wi-Fi. All of these outlets are increasing traffic and content as the audience grows.
YouTube is a video sharing website that holds the capability for users to upload and share millions of their favorite videos, original and not. Founded on February 15th 2005 by Steve Chen, Chad Hurley and Jawed Karim, YouTube has only grown from there. An article in the “Wall Street Journal,” written by Lee Gomes in August 2006, stated that YouTube had more or less than 5.1 million videos at that time. In the state of South Carolina that is about one video posted per person. A month later, Gomes says that the number of videos posted had grown to 6.1 million, which is at least a 20% increase. As of April 9th, 2008, a YouTube search returned about 83.4 million videos and 3.75 million user created channels and YouTube continues to become one of the most popular social networking sites out there.
The social Impact of YouTube has been greater than any of the wizards behind the curtain could have ever imagined. There have been countless videos that have gained popularity for them and for their creators solely through posting to YouTube. A good example of this would be the Obama Girl video that was posted back in June 2007. With the success of her first video, “I’ve Got A Crush On Obama”, the notorious Obama Girl formed her own YouTube Channel “” that has had over four million channel views and over 82,000 channel subscribers. Although YouTube was just a way for her to break into the media world, causing a sensation in the news media getting plays on CNN and write-ups in Newsweek. Because of the success of the Obama Girl’s videos and her channel, she has been able to bring many of her original humorous and satirical political videos to the public by streaming them on this online network.
This past 2008 U.S. Presidential Election used YouTube as a method of advertisement to get out their candidates names and faces to the public. The people had direct access to information about their candidates via YouTube such as their statements, previous campaign speeches and interviews. During the primaries, Hilary Clinton used YouTube as a more creative outlet to interact with her supporters by coming up with a parody of the season finale of “The Sopranos” with her and her husband former President Bill Clinton. This video received millions of viewers on YouTube and also was shown on news channels all around the country putting her name out there and connecting her to the more human quality of humor. ( Creating this video as a method to connect her supporters with her campaign, trying to pick her campaign song, she made herself more available and more down to earth rather than just a US Presidential candidate.
Blogs, which was coined by Peter Merholz, began gaining popularity in early 2000. Blogs were seen as virtual diaries, with online entries maintained by the creator of the blog. Since then, we have seen the blogsphere reach popularity that even the experts couldn’t imagine. Blogs receive four times the number of visits compared to traditional news (Time). There are several categories of blogs, personal blogs, corporate blogs, media institution blogs, etc. With our study, we will focus on mainstream political blogs that have the greatest amount of online traffic. These blogs include, Huffington, which has 2,777,280 compete monthly visitors, that has 2,187,547 compete monthy vistors, and with 1,836,898 compete monthly visitors. We will also look at Obama’s and McCain’s blogs on their individual campaign websites.
Facebook, which was launched in 2004 by Harvard dropout Mark Zuckerberg is a social networking website that allows free-access to connect with others. Originally created for college students, facebook is now open to the public, as users create their own profiles and contribute to their friend’s profiles by wall posts. In the summer of 2007, facebook was attracting 26.6 million monthly visitors, as the visitors continue to spend more time on the site with an average of 186 minutes per month (Washington Post). With the intensity of this year’s election users of facebook become extremely more vocal in their support for the candidates. Many donated their facebook status to their candidate, with statuses that read as follows, “Kate Kidd has donated her status to remind everyone to vote for Barack Obama today. Donate your status:” By users donating their status, a record was set of the largest online rally in history with a total of 1,745,754 people and 4,896,031 status messages set. Specifically, 70 percent of users who participated donated their status to Obama while 21 percent donated their status for McCain. After being categorized as an apathetic generation, the medium of facebook was largely instrumental in getting the youth vote off of the sidelines and onto the main stage of the political platform.
We will conduct our study through a content analysis of facebook, youtube, and blogs. We will look at each of these forums individually. With facebook we will look at political stances taken through notes, statuses, and profiles. With youtube we will concentrate on viral videos, which videos have received the most hits, links, and comments. Lastly, with blogs, we will focus on the blogs that receive the most traffic and why. In addition to our content analysis, we will also conduct a survey through facebook to sample the popularity of new media.
Our sample will be a short with an open-ended format. A sample of it is as
• Did you use facebook, blogs, or YouTube to support your candidate? If so, how, and what was your favorite site? Did you donate your status, make blog posts, or create online videos, etc…?
• Why or why not did you support your candidate through these outlets?
• If you did support a candidate via facebook, blogs, or YouTube, do you think your contribution influenced other users opinions?
With this survey and the extensive content analysis, our study will be a well-rounded investigation of the effects and effectiveness of new media.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Barbara West is a Sav!

A real reporter asks Joe Biden actually TOUGH questions. And valid ones too, despite Biden's scoffs.

She must not be a media elite.

Afterwards, the Obama campaign cried about the hawd questions and even cancelled Mrs. Biden's interview with the station to show them who's boss.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Obama Supporter Beats Up McCain Supporter... Media Silent

Obama Supporter Beats Up McCain Supporter... Media Silent

While the unsubstantiated reports of nasty remarks and advocacy of violence from attendees at McCain's rallies remains the buzz from the Old Media establishment and as the Old Media points its accusing finger at Gov. Palin, constantly calling her a racist, real violence has been perpetrated on a McCain supporter at the hands of an Obamaton. Yet, strangely enough, the media has remained silent on the incident.

Oleg Atbashian informs us that the District Attorney of New York has indicted an Obama supporter that ripped a McCain sign out of the hands of a McCain supporter and beat her in the face with the wooden stick to which the sign was attached.

The complaint reads, “Defendant grabbed the sign [informant] was holding, broke the wood stick that was attached to it, and then struck informant in informant’s face thereby causing informant to sustain redness, swelling, and bruising to informant’s face and further causing informant to sustain substantial pain.”

He rushed towards them, grabbed a McCain sign off a volunteer’s hands, and tore it apart. That didn’t seem enough.

(The Victim reports) I said, “What are you doing? You can’t do that!” And he was red in the face screaming, “You people are ridiculous!” And I said, “Yeah, whatever, but you can’t do that.”

So I reached for the sign that he ripped up, and he grabbed another sign, broke it, and ripped it to shreds. And when I said, “You can’t do that,” he took the stick from the sign and started beating me on the head with it. He broke the skin on my head, he scratched my wrist, and almost broke my glasses, and then he left.

The victim, a small middle-aged woman, flagged down a policeman. They confronted the Obamamaniac and he admitted his attack. And now the DA has brought charges.

More information can be seen on a blog named "The 'Silent' Majority No More".

So, while the media chases myths and "bedtime stories" (as Atbashian puts it) about mean, rotten, dastardly Republicans -- the ones not even the Secret Service can find -- they are completely ignoring a real assault by a real, unhinged Obama supporter.

But, who can blame the Old Media, huh? After all, everyone just knows that Obama supporters are better people than McCain supporters, right? Gosh, we can't let just one real-life Obama supporter make all the rest look bad, could we? No, better to write about mean ol' McCainiacs that don't really exist, eh?

That's our media for you.

MSM Bias... What else is new?

CBS and NBC Refuse to Scold Obama’s False Slam on McCain

Photo of Rich Noyes.

Over the past few days, the Obama campaign has been claiming — both in ads and in statements by Barack Obama himself — that John McCain would “cut” Medicare benefits by “$882 billion,” a charge that the Associated Press called “shaky” and that bluntly dismissed as “bogus” and “false.”

Yet of the three broadcast networks, only ABC News has thus far joined the condemnation of Obama’s deceptive ad. NBC on Monday would only go so far as to say “McCain’s advisors say that’s not true...” — implying that it’s merely a partisan difference of opinion — while CBS has thus far refrained from questioning Obama’s truthfulness on this issue.

For weeks now, the networks have complained about the McCain campaign’s supposed nasty and unfair campaign attacks against Obama, so when will NBC and CBS join ABC in punishing this nasty and unfair charge from the Democrats?

ABC’s Jake Tapper in a “Fact Check” that aired on Monday’s Good Morning America, as transcribed by the MRC’s Scott Whitlock:

JAKE TAPPER: Good morning, Robin. Well, in the closing weeks of any political campaign, as candidates careen through battleground states in their campaign buses, they tend to leave the facts by the side of the road. In Virginia, Senator Barack Obama launched a new attack, saying John McCain plans to gut Medicare to pay for his health care proposal.

SENATOR BARACK OBAMA: It turns out, Senator McCain would pay for part of his plan by making drastic cuts in Medicare, $882 billion worth.

TAPPER [Big red “FALSE” stamp appears onscreen]: That's false. The $882 billion number comes from a liberal think tank. The McCain campaign says the savings would not come from cutting benefits, but from program changes such as encouraging the use of more generic drugs.

On Friday’s World News Tonight, ABC’s David Wright had slammed the Obama claims as a “distortion,” but gave McCain a verbal kick in the shins at the same time:

WRIGHT : Today Barack Obama accused John McCain of undermining Medicare.

BARACK OBAMA: Time and again, he's opposed Medicare. In fact, Senator McCain has voted against protecting Medicare 40 times.

WRIGHT: That's a distortion of McCain's record, just as McCain distorts Obama's record when he claims Obama voted 94 times to raise taxes.

On Saturday’s Good Morning America, ABC’s John Berman discussed Obama’s ads, but instead of questioning their accuracy, he saluted the Democratic campaign’s incredible financial resources:

With just two weeks to go until Election Day, Barack Obama is unleashing a three-pronged attack, with his voice, his wallet, and his airplane. The latest front, the new charges about Medicare, claiming McCain would cut spending....It's a sensitive issue in key states with a lot of seniors, such as Florida and Pennsylvania....This new ad is just one of the multimillion dollar barrage from the Obama campaign. He has spent about $60 million more on ads than McCain. And he's outspending him three to one in Virginia, four to one in Florida, and eight to one in North Carolina.

On Monday’s NBC Nightly News, in a longer piece about the candidates’ health policies, reporter Mark Potter raised the issue Obama’s ad but would not condemn it as factually flawed:

POTTER: A recent Obama ad running in Florida and other states...

OBAMA AD: 882 billion from Medicare alone

POTTER: ...accuses McCain of threatening to cut Medicare benefits. But McCain's advisers say that's not true, arguing any cuts in Medicare spending will only come from attacking waste and fraud. Despite its importance, though, neither candidate has made Medicare a campaign priority.

On Saturday, the Associated Press put out a “fact check” headlined: “Obama's claim of benefit cuts suspect.” Reporter Kevin Freking found little basis for Obama’s incendiary claim:

Obama's charge is built on a shaky foundation. The campaign's evidence that McCain would make such cuts relies on a Wall Street Journal article where no specific cuts were mentioned.

In what little detail McCain discusses Medicaid and Medicare on his campaign Web site, he makes no mention of cutting benefits. He says this about the two health programs, the first for the poor, the second for the elderly and disabled: "We must reform the payment systems in Medicaid and Medicare to compensate providers for diagnosis, prevention and care coordination. Medicaid and Medicare should not pay for preventable medical errors or mismanagement."

Then on Monday,’s Brooks Jackson came out even stronger against the Obama claims:

In a TV ad and in speeches, Obama is making bogus claims that McCain plans to cut $880 billion from Medicare spending and to reduce benefits.

● A TV spot says McCain's plan requires “cuts in benefits, eligibility or both.”

● Obama said in a speech that McCain plans “cuts” that would force seniors to “pay more for your drugs, receive fewer services, and get lower quality care.”

These claims are false, and based on a single newspaper report that says no such thing. McCain's policy director states unequivocally that no benefit cuts are envisioned. McCain does propose substantial “savings” through such means as cutting fraud, increased use of information technology in medicine and better handling of expensive chronic diseases. Obama himself proposes some of the same cost-saving measures. We’re skeptical that either candidate can deliver the savings they promise, but that’s no basis for Obama to accuse McCain of planning huge benefit cuts.

Every election year, Democrats seek to convince senior citizens that Republicans are scheming to cut Social Security and/or Medicare benefits, and the media typically provide only a half-hearted pushback against such scare tactics. So far, this year seems little different.

Prop 8 Supporter Hopes Old People Die so Prop 8 is Defeated

Liberal Activist on California Prop 8: If Only Lots of Old Voters Died Before Election

Photo of Ken Shepherd.

If only elderly voters in California would die off in large enough numbers before November 4, then the final nail could be hammered in the coffin of California Proposition 8, a ballot initiative that would define marriage as between a man and a woman. That according to liberal activist Kristina Wilfore, the executive director of the Ballot Initiative Strategy Center, "an advocacy organization that specializes in using ballot initiatives to further liberal causes." Her comments were buried deep inside Michael Lindenberger's October 21 item at

Wilfore says she's prepared to take the long view in California. "I am not going to be discouraged if we lose," she says. Victory will come over time in the courts, as demographics works its influence on the nation's voting patterns, she says, noting that young people support gay marriage far more than their parents and grandparents do. "A lot of people are going to have to die" before Election Day is an easy day for gay marriage, she says.

While Wilfore was not wishing for the deaths of thousands of elderly conservative voters per se, one can imagine the ire the media would focus on such a statement of say a conservative activist annoyed with elderly voters blocking Social Security reforms.

Lindenberger quoted Wilfore in the penultimate paragraph of his article, using the final graf to herald the in-your-face activist liberalism of the mayor of San Francisco, who violated the Golden State's laws on marriage in a famous 2004 act of civil disobedience:
But not everyone has such patience. San Francisco mayor Gavin Newsom, whose office has officiated over marriage ceremonies for thousands of gays since the California Supreme Court decision, told TIME recently that he thinks the outcome of the marriage vote will impact far more than just who can marry and who can't. "We're going to have a chance to find out whether America, and California, is ready for the change embodied in Barack Obama's campaign," said Newsom. "Or does it simply stop with him?" The country will know soon enough.

—Ken Shepherd is Managing Editor of NewsBusters