Saturday, December 16, 2006

Sarkozy and the blogosphere

Ohmynews has posted an article detailing Sarkozy's failures in dealing with the online media: first the leaked interview in which he declared his candidacy, and second his very poorly taken speech at the Le Web 3 conference in Paris. It ends with some words of warning for what may come.
The consequences for Sarkozy are more benign: he surely did not make new friends among the Web 2.0 community, but most attendants will not vote during the elections next year. Yet, with the official campaign only just beginning, such a superficial and sometimes arrogant approach of online media could have tremendous consequences in a country that hosts Europe's biggest population of bloggers.

While Sarkozy should definitely learn to tread a bit more carefully when dealing with the online media in general, it is clear that some bloggers are falling into the trap of too much self-importance. Sarkozy is going to rise or fall on the merits of his ideas and personality, regardless of the fact that he angered plenty of blogging delegates. It is true that Socialist candidate Segolene Royal has utilized the internet to a remarkable degree, which has helped (but was certainly not the sole cause) to propel her to where she is today. Yet despite all of that online effort, she is still 50-50 with Sarkozy.

There is a way that the online media can destroy candidates. During the 2004 American presidential election, a group calling itself "Swiftboat Veterans for Truth" came out saying that Democratic nominee John Kerry had won his Silver Star in Vietnam based on a firefight that may not have occured. This questionable news was seized upon by the right wing media (internet, radio, and television) until mainstream media like CNN had to cover the allegations. At the end of the day it really didn't matter what happened in Vietnam that day during the war, what mattered was that many voters got a slightly negative view of Kerry, and he ended up losing.

If such a political attack was orchestrated in France during this election season against either candidate, the blogosphere and online media would play an important role. But you can't leave any lasting damage on Sarkozy just because he did not stay for questions at Le Web 3.

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