If you watched the Democratic debate earlier in the week, you saw something historic - consumer-generated questions on YouTube. Now cynics might make the case that this "debate" was just another televised series of evasions, spin, and posturing. They might also claim that similar gatherings have included questions from the audience, so what's the big deal here?
But there's something truly "democratic" about people from all over the U.S. (or the world, for that matter) having the chance to submit questions via YouTube. And it clearly made for more interesting, uncomfortable, and whacked questions - the types of queries that might even motivate more people to watch these boring spectacles. When Barack Obama was asked whether he was "black enough," you just knew that the TV debate process was in uncharted waters. Or the bizarre "question" about Al Gore - truly strange television, but something that humanized the debate.
Just as we in radio need to get more comfortable with giving up control, maybe next time politicians and the TV/cable networks will actually consider choosing the questions based on the number of votes they receive online. What's the worst that could happen? People choosing the most popular questions - or billboards or songs or "Rock Girls?" After all, isn't that what we and the politicians are trying to do - appeal to the most people?
Here are some of the other "interesting" questions (click here for all of them):