After yesterday’s mini-scoop on the Economist’s mildly anticipated decision to endorse Obama, we are considering updating our magazine slogan. Out goes “Britain’s Intelligent Conversation”; in comes “Prospect: always first with the stories that matter to middle America.” Today, we also have something of an exclusive. Sadly, it is only obliquely related to news from America, which currently focuses on the cratering McCain campaign. (Sarah Palin has, so it seems, “gone rogue”—she is off message, and continues to talk about her recent wardrobe malfunction—while fivethirtyeight keeps the contest on a knife-edge with its odds that Obama has a mere 96.7% chance of victory.) Instead, it is this excellent video mapping tool I was sent by a friend this morning, released overnight, which allows the discerning 2008 procrastinator to optimise their election-related time wasting, by viewing the relative popularity of various political YouTube clips.
It’s quite fascinating—in particular because of the way it helps lift the lid on the right wing videos— those on the right hand side of the graph above. Worryingly, despite having what must amount to a chronic YouTube condition, I had barely seen any of them. Why worrying? Cass Sunstein’s Republic.com argued that self-chosen media spaces, in which one was insulated from opposing opinions, were the principal danger of the information revolution. The internet, he argued, allows people to avoid serendipitous encounters with ideas they don’t like: gun nuts only see pro-gun websites; liberal pinkos stick to the Daily Kos, and so on. Rather disturbingly, it seems this rule applies to my election video watching also. Having visited the site, however, I have been happy to learn the truth behind Obama’s enthusiastic support for infanticide, in addition to seeing a hot new video doing the rounds, from a 2001 interview, in which the young Obama scandalises America by coming out in favour of mild progressive taxation. Catching up on right-wing videos: not a bad way to spend the day, as I’m sure Mr Sunstein would agree.
(Ps – in exchange for our constant stream of internet scoops, we need your help. In our next edition, we may do a round up of the best internet things of the election. If you have any favourites, please leave them in the comments. I’ll start the ball rolling with mine: this fabulous Mike Huckabee parody, from way back in December 2007.)