Bypassing the “Filter”

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Lots of interesting tidbits out there about the value of creating your own “media environment” today. The Politico’s Ben Smith profiles “HillaryHub.com” and puts it in the context of campaigns communicating directly with supporters with highly tailored messages:

Political campaigns are learning from corporate America and big-time sports, which increasingly produce and control their own news and entertainment. They’re using the Internet to compete with the independent media that President Bush famously labeled “the filter.”

His colleague Jonathan Martin reports on a similar venture on the R side, though McCain’s staff is making it all about Mitt:

In another sign of John McCain’s plan to assault former Mitt Romney over his alleged flip-flops, the Arizona senator’s campaign has purchased the website “www.mittvsfact.com” and will launch it in the coming weeks as a compendium of what they say are the former governor’s differing stances.

The McCain camp yesterday attacked Romney on abortion under a “Mitt vs Fact” letterhead that aped their rival’s campaign logo. Late in the day, a tipster pointed out that a URL of the same had been purchased and privately registered. A McCain aide confirmed today that they secured the site last month and indicated that they would use it as a sort of one-stop shop “to brand” Romney.

Clinton adviser Chris Lehane has it right when he says that creating these environments is just a start, as with any venture that’s chasing its version of commercial success, the content has to keep people coming back. Right now, HillaryHub.com doesn’t have much on it that would interest anyone who isn’t already a supporter. Mittvsfacts.com has more potential, in a Punk’d kind of way, to offer amusement to even the casual visitor.

And, yes, speaking of casual amusement, I did see this:

I, uhm, am embarrassed for everyone and would entertain any plausible theory that this is actually some kind of sophisticated oppo plant. (“It’s TOO GOOD to be just some girl,” etc.) The Obama Girl video — if it is truly just a spontaneous expression of political, er, desire — is different from what these two sites are trying to do but related in that it points up the unpredictable particulate nature of online campaigning. Mittvfacts and HillaryHub are campaigns’ attempts to use the internet to accomplish the same mission they’ve always had: control the message. Obama Girl is, well, out of control.

And speaking of controlling the message — another interesting find from Politico in the form of the NRSC’s guide to how not be George Allen. It reflects the “create your own media environment” trend in this stricture in particular:

Make blogs your first point of contact. It used to be that campaigns checked in with newspaper reporters, then everybody else. Now, friendly blogs should be the first point of contact. (The NRSC bumped the mainstream media to step eight on its nine-step plan for communicating the campaign’s message to the public.)

I’d be interested to know if this is actually happening very much. Campaign professionals can be as snobby as any liberal media elite [insert acknowledgment of this term's fuzziness], and I wonder if someone very senior in a Senate campaign would take well to being told that his first call of the week wasn’t to, say, the NYT but rather to “Captain Ed.” Then again, I wonder how many bloggers would be insulted if the call they got was from “only” the number two (or twenty-two).

RELATED: Our colleague Jim Poniewozik has his own take user-generated campaign content.