I've been critical of the White House New Media office before, but I think they deserve kudos today for instigating and executing the President's first online town hall meeting. (Macon Phillips, the new media director, and Jesse Lee, the online programs director, spent a long time putting this together.) One -- the White House says that Obama wasn't briefed about the questions in advance. Two -- several questions weren't softballs. Three -- the White House web servers had enough bandwith to accomodate the demand. (To test them, I pulled it up simultaneously on several computers without a program.) To the extent that the new media operation got off to a slow start -- not really their fault, for a variety of legal, structural and economic reasons, this event will go a long away toward building that team some institutional credibility within the White House. An administration offficial said that approximately 64,000 people tuned in -- not a huge amount, to be sure, but the multiplier effect of news coverage will expand the audience. MSNBC and Fox News broadcast part of it; CNN is sticking through the whole thing.
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