If Dean, Reid, and all those state parties are serious about reaching out to voters that are not traditionally participants in the Democratic primary process, there's a much better solution than Fox News. Fox News is a Republican propaganda outfit, which isn't just my opinion, but Howard Dean's as well. But more than that, Fox News, indeed, no cable network is really involving the public in the debate process. They aren't built to do that.
But CurrentTV is. CurrentTV is targeted at young viewers who create their own media; on the home page right now there's a question 'Renewable Energy: What's th best plan?' with not a news story, but a submission form. Current is an attempt at a genuine conversation, not a top-down TV sound bite model.
When real political candidates show up at a forum, they legitimize that forum. If Fox News can host a Democratic Presidential forum, it becomes a real news outlet. Democrats are forced to watch our leaders pay respects to a group of people who regularly use their bullhorn to call us traitors. That's bad, and we don't like it. We've made our voices heard about that, and Reid is probably hoping that if he ignores us we'll go away.
But the flip side of this is that CurrentTV can also be legitimized as a real news outlet if real political candidates show up at a forum. Reid and the Nevada Democrats could play a critical role in building a new communications platform for Democratic politics by pointing at Current's citizen involvement and youth focus, and saying 'more of this please'. Imagine the creativity and innovation CurrentTV and the internet can bring to the Presidential debate process, integrating video podcasts, blogging, public discourse, and fundraising. It would crack the debate wide open.
Imagine this scenario - during the debate, CurrentTV has a web page set up for conversation about each candidate, along with a donate button and a tally of the cash coming in to each candidate. Who won the debate? Well just look at the amount of money and tally it up (this is one place the money will come from, Atrios). Pretty sweet from all sides, isn't it? Well maybe not Rupert Murdoch's but it would work for everyone else now wouldn't it?
Or take this other scenario - CurrentTV breaks down clips in real time, posting them on the web, and then asks viewers to remix answers as the debate is going on. They will play the best newly remixed clips at the end of the debate.
In 2008, rewriting the map is going to be about young voters and new media. CurrentTV is all about young viewers and new media. It's a great match. Let's crack the debate wide open - it's what we elected Howard Dean to do.