Mitch McConnell’s YouTube Fiasco

by John Hawkins | January 12, 2009 7:34 am

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell has FINALLY created a YouTube channel[1]. For that, I will give him a tiny smidgen of credit. However, McConnell’s YouTube goes to show exactly how clueless the Republican Party is with technology.

Currently, McConnell’s channel has a grand total of 2, count ’em, 2 subscribers. He has 6 videos in the channel that have the following view counts: 19, 5, 28, 38, 3, and 16 views. Those pathetic view counts aren’t a surprise when you consider that Mitch’s lead video is this coma inducing snoozefest,

The channel name? “RepublicanLeader”

That says it all, doesn’t it?

Here we have the Senate Minority Leader belatedly embracing technology that is years old, doing a mediocre job of it, and they’re not even bothering to seriously promote it.

I spoke to a Senate aide about this and his reply was something akin to, “What, is he going to call the Politico to let them know he has created a YouTube channel? He’d look ridiculous.” But, there’s the problem, isn’t it? What is he doing with the channel that makes it worth telling anybody about?

Here’s an important lesson for the Republican Party: the point of having technology isn’t just to be able to say that you have it; it’s to do things with it.

Now, if we were talking about just some run-of-the-mill senator, maybe this would be Ok — dull, but OK.

But, as McConnell’s channel declares, he’s the “RepublicanLeader” in the Senate. A little more should be expected out of him.

“Like what, smart guy? Give me an example!”

Sure, how about McConnell creates a channel that features different Republican senators explaining conservative principles that they agree with? He could have one explaining their support of the 2nd Amendment, another talking about originalism, etc., etc. Heck, a channel that simply featured Mitch McConnell doing that would at least be interesting. It would at least give people a reason to link the videos.

What if Mitch answered a question from his constituents, from bloggers, the highest rated question on YouTube each week — whatever — what if he did that each week? That would at least have the potential to draw people’s attention.

How about a video mash-up of Mitch McConnell’s best floor speeches? How about web ads pushing Republican positions? Heck, what if Mitch talked to the heavies at YouTube about what he could do to create traffic? Sure, they lean left a bit, but I got to talk to them when I worked with Duncan Hunter’s campaign and I found that they had some fantastic ideas. Whatever their ideology may be, ultimately, their goal is to increase the number of views on their network so they can make money.

“Oh, but John, it’s just a stupid YouTube channel. It’s not like that’s going to get the GOP going again” — but again, we’re getting back to the core of the problem: that’s the GOP’s default attitude. They do a half-*ssed job of doing anything they don’t feel comfortable with.

They don’t make a strong pitch to minorities, they don’t make a strong pitch to young voters, they don’t work to build up infrastructure, they don’t try to promote conservative bloggers, they don’t work to take advantage of tech. This sort of mediocre effort is the rule, not the exception, and it needs to change.

Update #1: A representative a Senator McConnell emailed to add a little bit of back story on this issue. Long story short, he wanted me to know that,

… Sen. McConnell has actually been using YouTube for about 2 years and was one of the first offices to be using it consistently.

…The main reason we didn’t have an “official” YouTube channel until now, is that we were fighting with the Rules Committee for 2 years about what we were allowed to do on YouTube.

Long story short, we won, and they wrote a rule letting anyone use third party websites without content restrictions. With that out of the way, YouTube approached us and the other leadership offices to participate in launching their new service for Congress, the House and Senate hubs…

In starting a new channel, we obviously wanted all our old video content to come over with it, but we were told by YouTube that they either couldn’t or wouldn’t move videos between channels for some reason.

…So instead I put some of Sen. McConnell’s best floor speeches (like you suggested) on the channel so there would be something ready for launch and added some of our old videos as favorites.

…Finally, regarding the welcome video, it may be a little dry, but we were asked to do that video by YouTube to help launch the service.

I’m glad you noticed our channel and decided to write about it, even in criticism, since a lot of it was constructive. But I just wanted to explain why things look the way they do.

So, there’s a little extra context on the whole issue.

  1. YouTube channel:

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