Fanning the Flames: The Freedom Project Blog


Fear the Snowman?!

By Shawn Healy
I've written extensively (see my 8/10, 7/25 and 5/4 posts) about the degree to which the current candidates for president have embraced new media as a means of furthering the reach of their respective campaigns. The Democratic contenders, especially the frontrunners (Clinton, Obama, and Edwards), grabbed the baton from party leader and former presidential candidate Howard Dean in 2004 and kept it moving full speed ahead. The GOP contenders, with the exception of Romney, have run more traditional campaigns, although Fred Thompson's use of cable news, conservative blogs, and even a YouTube video lampooning Michael Moore are signs that Mitt may soon have some competition on the right.

Romney himself derided the first Democratic CNN-YouTube Debate, chiding the quality of questions while pointing to the now famous snowman concerned about global warming. The reluctance of Romney and fellow frontrunner Rudy Giuliani forced CNN to reschedule the Republican round of interactive questioning. Both cited scheduling conflicts, and the network has since agreed to move the event to November 28th in St. Petersburg, FL.

One creative cyber filmmaker crafted a satirical spoof of the Democratic debate and the feeble attempts of Romney and Rudy to undermine the new media format. (Warning: this video probably warrants a PG-13 rating).

Last week, MTV and MySpace announced an ongoing dialogue between voters and individual candidates (11 in all) to be webcast live on both sites beginning on Sept. 27th. John Edwards will kick off the process, responding to questions from an online audience submitted via email, instant message, or text. The web sites will enable viewers to rate candidate responses to individual inquiries through interactive polling.

These conversations, and the aforementioned CNN-YouTube Debates, are signs of the times and candidates on both sides of the aisle are wise to embrace new media alternatives as a way of reaching and mobilizing younger audiences. The obituary of the losing contender on November 4, 2008, may well be written in HTML code, casting aside network news, print journalism, and direct mail as so 2004.


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Managing Director

McCormick Freedom Project

Shawn is responsible for overseeing and managing the operations associated with the McCormick Freedom Project. Additionally, he serves as the in house content expert and voice of museum through public speaking and original scholarship. Before joining the Freedom Project, he taught American Government, Economics, American History, and Chicago History at Community High School in West Chicago, IL and Sheboygan North High School in Wisconsin.

Shawn is a doctoral candidate within the Political Science Department at the University of Illinois at Chicago where he received his MA in Political Science. He is a 2001 James Madison Fellow from the State of Wisconsin and holds a bachelor's degree in Political Science, History, and Secondary Education from the University of Wisconsin at Madison.

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About Fanning the Flames and the McCormick Freedom Project

Fanning the Flames is a blog of the McCormick Freedom Project, which was started in 2006 by museum managing director Shawn Healy. The blog highlights the news of the day, in hopes of engaging readers in dialogue about freedom issues. Any views or opinions expressed on this blog represent those of the writers alone and do not represent an official opinion of the McCormick Freedom Project.

Founded in 2005, the McCormick Freedom Project is part of the McCormick Foundation. The Freedom Project’s mission is to enable informed and engaged participation in our democracy by demonstrating the relevance of the First Amendment and the role it plays in the ongoing struggle to define and defend freedom. The museum offers programs and resources for teachers, students, and the general public.

First Amendment journalism initiative

The Freedom Project recently launched a new reporting initiative with professional journalists Tim McNulty and Jamie Loo. The goal is to expand and promote the benefits of lifelong civic engagement among citizens of all ages, through original reporting, commentary and news aggregation on First Amendment and freedom issues. Please visit the McCormick Freedom Project's news Web site, The Post-Exchange at

Dave Anderson
Vice President of Civic Programs
McCormick Foundation

Tim McNulty
Senior Journalist
McCormick Freedom Project

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