Yesterday we witnessed the final demise of political journalism. A TV news talk show host who used to be a political operative interviewed a former presidential candidate on important subjects such as foreign policy and the economy, in a format that required all answers be rendered in 140 characters or less.
It was billed as a "Twitterview," conducted by George Stephanopoulus, with John McCain as the hapless interviewee typing out such bons mots as "hi george im a little slow".
McCain recently began Twittering, which is to say, typing out short and banal descriptions of whatever flatulence happens to enter his brain and posting it on a Web page. For journalists and politicians, and for McCain in particular, Twittering has been an embarrassing exercise in the flogging of useless new media fads.
Why useless? Because in the world of politics, where people ask serious questions about serious issues that affect the actual lives of millions of people, it is basically impossible to give a full and intellectually honest answer to those questions in 140 characters. Thus:
GStephanopoulos@SenJohnMcCain What worries you more: Pakistan or Iran? SenJohnMcCain@GStephanopoulos both. the challenges are different but both significant.
Well, that clears up that pressing little geopolitical issue!
John McCain has obviously gotten the message that he needs to be a little more tech-savvy and learn about new technology. And George Stephanopoulos has obviously gotten the message that the coveted twentysomething demographic that news outlets have been losing for a generation enjoy using Twitter. But to attempt to use Twitter for a genuine policy discussion is just a dumb, unreadable stunt.
Sara K. Smith writes for NBC and Wonkette.