Opinion: Still waiting for your TXT from Barack Obama?


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Ooops. The so-last-century mainstream media beat Barack Obama’s campaign to the punch, revealing the name of his running mate hours before the campaign started reporting the choice to supporters via shiny new technology. In case you’ve forgotten, the campaign had promised to alert its followers first, via text messages and e-mail. But by 10 p.m. last night, the LA Times had confirmed Joe Biden as the Dems’ No. 2, as had the NY Times, and I’d be surprised if numerous other papers weren’t running with the story, too. (Ditto for the cable news nets.) So as I sit here, still waiting for my copy of the Obama text message (I’m not an Obama backer, I just do the things reporters do), I’ve got to wonder: will the new-media types who got swept up in the sheer niftiness of the gimmick be a little more skeptical next time? Take, for example, the Huffington Post, which gushed on Aug. 13:

That’s right, Obama is announcing his VP via text message — not via leak to a trusted MSM source, not in an editorial in the venerable New York Times, not in a sit-down with a Big Three anchorperson, not even in an eleventh-hour blog post on a wildly popular news-and-opinion site. Instead, he’s doing a total end-run around traditional media and breaking some very big news directly to The People.


To her credit, HuffPo scribe Rachel Sklar noted (as the New York Times’ Garrett Graff points out in this story) what probably is the real reason behind the text-message gambit: to collect voters’ phone numbers. In fact, not long after I signed up, the campaign hit me with an unsolicited text missive that made me regret being such a sucker.

You might also argue that the text-message thing was just a bit of theater designed to make the nation’s big media outlets chase the story of Obama’s pick more feverishly. But that’s silly. It’s a presidential race -- the pack couldn’t get any hungrier.