your own presidential showdown, using candidates and
their answers like building blocks that shatter the standard
conventions of a televised political debate.
Yahoo! and the
blog HuffingtonPost.com and the Web magazine Slate.com
this week will let viewers assemble their own presidential
confrontations. They can stack one candidate against
another, or line them all up by single issue.
Rose will be the moderator and interviewer who will elicit
the answer blocks in a series of interviews Wednesday with
the eight Democratic presidential candidates. Rose
will quiz each candidate separately, by satellite from
New York, on topics selected by a vote of Yahoo!
Once posted on
the three Web sites on Thursday, viewers will be able to
edit to taste. Joe Biden versus Barack Obama on the war in
Iraq. Hillary Rodham Clinton on health care,
education, and the war. All eight on a ''wild card''
question reserved for each one. And more.
Call it Web 2.0
politics. Or call it what its organizers do--a
The experiment is
the latest offspring of the marriage of politics and
the Internet. Presidential candidates have ventured onto
online social networking sites such as Facebook and
MySpace. They've established elaborate interactive Web
pages to spread their message and raise money. They've
learned to advertise based on keyword searches. They've
participated in online town halls sponsored by the liberal
MoveOn.org. And they've lived and suffered by the
power of YouTube.
''The point is
putting power in the hands of the audience and letting
them navigate it,'' said Scott Moore, Yahoo!'s senior vice
president of news and information.
The idea, said
Huffington Post's Arianna Huffington, was to reach an
audience made up particularly of young people who typically
do not get their information from traditional media
''If we're going
to increase their political participation we have to
meet them where they are,'' she said. ''That was the idea of
the mashup--that is, to empower users to create
their own tailored candidate forum experience.... They
may not sit spellbound for an hour and a half.''
Rose will ask the
candidates questions on four categories: the war,
health care, education and one undisclosed
candidate-specific subject. As the interviewer, Rose
will be allowed to follow up and to slightly alter the
questions to fit the circumstance.
interviews, if watched in one chronological sitting, would
last about two hours. But that's so old media.
''A big part of
this for us is to try to innovate and do something that
hasn't been done before,'' Moore said.
candidates, the format permits them to reach an audience
without major scheduling upheavals. They'll connect
with Rose from wherever they happen to be campaigning.
Several of the candidates who are members of Congress
will participate from Washington.
So far, only the
Democrats have agreed to be part of such a debate.
Moore, Huffington, and Slate's Jacob Weisberg want to have a
similar exchange with Republicans. Once the parties
have their nominees, Moore said he'd like to stage an
event that would also allow the candidates to interact
with each other.
testing the Internet, too. MySpace and MTV plan to hold
real-time online conversations between the candidates and
young voters, who will be able to instant-message,
e-mail, or phone text their questions. The exchanges
will be Webcast live on MTV.com and MySpaceTV.com
starting later this month through December.
''If you think
back to the 1960 [presidential] campaign, that was the
first time that television had a material impact on the
election, on who won,'' Moore said, referring to the
televised debates between John F. Kennedy and Richard
Nixon. ''I believe that 2008 will be the first time
that the Internet will have a material impact on who wins
the election.'' (Jim Kuhnhenn, AP)