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Giuliani, Firefighters, And YouTube

Jeff Jarvis

We've been concentrating on who will be smart enough to benefit most from the internet and YouTube in this presidential election. But we should also ask who will be hurt most. And that could be Rudy Giuliani -- but only because he's not trying to use the internet smartly.

On Wednesday, Channel '08 covered the effort by some New York firefighters to take out their longstanding grudge against Giuliani -- while The Fix focused on Giuliani's prebuttal against them.

As a New Yorker and a survivor of the 9/11 attack on the World Trade Center, I have sadly seen too much of this sort of angry revenge, blaming the rage and hurt of 9/11 on one scapegoat or another. These firefighters pin all the blame on Giuliani for (1) their bad radios and (2) their dissatisfaction over the recovery of remains. That's all this video is about. Not unlike the Swiftboat commercials, it focuses on one strong grievance. It tries to use this as evidence of a fatal flaw in the candidate's character. But, really, this is more of an opportunity to vent than it is a campaign statement. This video has even less to do with the presidential election than the Swift Boaters' did. It's about the ongoing war between Giuliani and some of the firefighters.

And though, as The Fix reported, Giuliani countered the firefighters' video before it was released on YouTube and on an anti-Giuliani attack site, I say that he is not using the internet wisely.

Even before this video, if you went to YouTube and searched for the latest videos on Giuliani you'd find no end of Ron Paul videos (because he's everywhere) and then no end of videos from 9/11 conspiracy theorists and deniers and Giuliani haters. Fringe though they may be, these people own "Giuliani" on YouTube. Giuliani doesn't.

If he wanted to use YouTube wisely, Giuliani should be flooding the zone with his own videos and his own messages, his own stories of 9/11, and his own campaign messages that move past that. But, instead, his YouTube page is peppered with occasional snippets of speeches and local news reports, none very compelling. He lets himself be outnumbered online.

This is the same candidate who stillhas aprivate MySpace page! He has no Facebook page. His web site doesn't even have a blog.

Giuliani may not be scared of terrorists but it sure seems he's scared of the internet.

Whether anyone pays attention to the firefighters' attack on Giuliani will depend on whether the video is picked up in media coverage and whether it strikes any chord that makes it go viral. This one video will not do him in; the tone of the video is so strident and so focused on this specific grudge that it may have no impact on the campaign at all.

But still, Giuliani may be the candidate who is doing the worst job using the internet and specifically YouTube video. He has conceded online -- the digital primary state -- to his enemies.

By Ed O'Keefe |  July 12, 2007; 7:01 AM ET Rudy Giuliani
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Please email us to report offensive comments.

Ed -I'm amazed that you actually just compared the recent anti-Giuliani videos to the Swiftboat campaign....

Do you not a crucial difference between these?

The anti-Giuliani video are 100% true. They may - in your opinon - be one-sided and unbalanced. But the facts are NOT in question. Rudy WAS mayor, the radios did NOT work, and fire rescue center WAS moved back into the WTC, etc.

In sharp contract - the Swiftboat videos are 100% untrue. There is no corroborating evidence to support the Swiftboat allegations, and plenty of evidence to (a) suggest that they are untrue, and (b) that the depth and breadth of a supposed conspiracy needed to support a "fake" Kerry war record is completely implausible.

Yes - they may both be examples of single-issue, unbalanced, and rather heavy-handed political messaging - but is the distinction between "truth" and 'untruth" too subtle for us?

Posted by: JimStag | July 12, 2007 9:53 AM

How can the FDNY attack a man of such impeccable credentials?

His Penn campaign mgr busted for bribery
His La campaign mgr confesses to prostitution
His SC campaign mgr arrested for distrib cocaine
His close friend and ex-NYC police chief doing time for public corruption
He's anti trad family, pro disposable wife (married 3x), pro abortion, gay rights advocate
He's anti sovereignty, pro merger Can-USA-Mex, pro gov seizure of 100s thousands sq miles of land for largest private FOREIGN OWNED TOLL HIWAY in world
Tied to mob
No foreign policy experience

Such recommendations, and they dare complain about a few fallen comrades?

Posted by: Johnsona | July 15, 2007 8:56 AM

Rudolph Giuliani had this very Orwellian doublethink gem of a remark during a conference on crime in 1994: "Freedom is about authority. Freedom is about the willingness of every single human being to cede to lawful authority a great deal of discretion about what you do." This was recorded in the New York Times on 20 March 1994.

Clearly someone who believes in the principles of INGSOC such as "Freedom is Slavery" errm, I mean "Freedom is about authority" is contrary to what America itself is all about, and should never be allowed to hold public office in a nation known as "The Land of the Free."

Vote for him if you like, but a vote for Rudy is a vote for the downfall of America.

Posted by: GunnyFreedom | July 15, 2007 7:17 PM

Ed -I'm amazed that you actually just compared the recent anti-Giuliani videos to the Swiftboat campaign....

Do you not a crucial difference between these?

I too was pretty stunned that you equated the firefighters with the Swift Boaters, and that you dismissed the firefighters' video as "an opportunity to vent." If you ever lose a loved one due to the neglect or incompetence of a public figure, I trust you will not be so petty as to "vent" about it.

Posted by: Andy Lee | July 17, 2007 4:05 AM

What disturbs most of us who are anti Guiliani is the fact that he has made millions of dollars professing to be an "expert" on terrorist activities in the USA. What is even more disturbing is that those who live outside of NYC have bought this image. We are voicing our opinions because we want America to vote for the man not the image. America remembers Rudolph Guiliani as the hero of September 11,2001. He has never acknowledged any mistakes. We want voters to see the mistakes. We want voters to see the real Rudy. If they then choose to vote for him that is their right. At least however they will be informed about what actually happened and how many people were hurt and killed because of the mistakes and blatant acts of greed that were made by Rudolph Guiliani.

Posted by: M. Santora | August 1, 2007 10:51 PM

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