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MTV Turns Out to Be Obama's Space


Obama holds court in an MTV-ified Coe College campus in Cedar Rapids, Iowa (AP).

Technology isn't for everyone.

Last month, The Trail was at the University of New Hampshire in Durham for the first MySpace/MTV instant messaging presidential forum, watching a confused John Edwards try to make sense of color-coded, pink-or-green graphics that rated his answers on the spot. "Go back to that graph again," a perplexed Edwards said after answering his first question. "How do I read this thing?" (The answer is green, good, pink, bad.)

Today, in the hopes of experiencing this forum in its online glory from our Washington D.C. office, The Trail repeatedly tried to log on to the forum held at Coe College in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, at 1:30 p.m. EST. First on MTV.com. No luck. Then to our MySpace account on MySpace.com. No luck, either. The streaming wasn't working, and all we could watch was the introduction of Chris Cillizza, our colleague who's co-moderating the live event. It was the introduction over and over and over again.

About 30 minutes later, the connection finally worked. For frustrated web viewers or those who missed it altogether, MTV is airing the forum tonight at 7 p.m. In the meantime, here are some highlights.

When asked whom Obama would like to see play him in a Hollywood version of his life, he first picked two-time Oscar winner Denzel Washington but then settled on one of Hollywood's most bankable stars, Will Smith. They have the same big ears, he noted. (How about his wife, Michelle? "There's nobody that good-looking," he said to laughs and applause.") To highlight his foreign policy difference with Sen. Hillary Clinton, who's leading the national polls, he said he'd be willing to sit down with the leaders of Iran. We have to "offer them carrots, as well as sticks," he said.

The popularity of Stephen Colbert's presidential run -- at least in South Carolina -- was brought up, and Obama took the time to criticize the broadcast media, saying that news execs should be worried that many young Americans are so distrustful of mainstream TV news that they get most of their news from a fake newscaster. He was asked about a wide range of topics, including hate crime legislation, immigration policy, gay rights and net neutrality, a big issue especially in the political blogosphere. Some companies want to charge different rates for logging on to different sites, Obama said, and that defeats the purpose of a fair and equal Internet.

Obama was in his element, surrounded by the kind of young college-age voters who for months have energized his campaign. He leads the Democratic field in the number of supporters and friends on MySpace and YouTube, and he's been out in front of his competitors with his presence on other social networking sites as LinkedIn, Black Planet and Eons, the MySpace for senior citizens.

At least for those who can log on to those sites.

-- Jose Antonio Vargas

By Washington Post editors  |  October 29, 2007; 6:33 PM ET
Categories:  A_Blog , Barack Obama  
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