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Opinion: Today, President Bush makes Web history

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Sometime around 5 p.m. EDT today, watch for a little bit of Web and White House history: President Bush’s first interview conducted only with online organizations.

Mike Allen of Politico.com will be questioning the president for the online and ink-on-paper outlet, as well as Yahoo.com. A video crew will record the roughly 20-minute session in the Roosevelt Room at midday for posting about five hours later, just as the president is scheduled to leave Washington to begin a five-day Middle East trip.

Is it a big deal? Not in the format.

‘It’s just like any other interview,’ Deputy White House Press Secretary Tony Fratto said.

And Allen, per usual, will offer up a story on the talk. But the online sites also will provide access to the full, unedited video, along with sections parceled out on different topics.

For Allen, Politico.com’s chief political writer, the interview will be much like any other --except it will be conducted in front of a video camera.

‘He’s George Stephanopoulos,’ Fratto said.

Well, Stephanopoulous without hair.

Fratto said Politico and Yahoo approached ...

the White House with the idea several months ago. ‘It’s a unique format,’ he said, noting that Bush ‘does lots of interviews’ but that ‘very, very few are aired in their entirety.’

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And that is what politicians and their aides so often long for: Unfiltered access to viewers, and for a very long time.

‘The exciting thing about this is [the video] is up there all the time,’ Fratto said.

For better or worse, for all concerned.

-- James Gerstenzang.


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