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January 29, 2014

Obama’s State of the Union Goes PowerPoint

Ready as I was to do the usual — to riff on my own screenshots from the television broadcast, along with published news photos — something curiously different happened watching the SOTU last night. Having given up cable after moving to the Bay Area, I pulled up three feeds on the computer, NBC, C-SPAN and the White House. Anyway, before I knew it, I was consumed by the White House feed with its multimedia component and the way Obama, his words and the slides were playing together. (Excuse me, by the way, if the Administration has done this “Obama-enhanced slideshow” thing before, but I’d still guess a lot of people are new to it.)

What with our White House “Photo Access” Salon scheduled for February 9th, what has been on my mind these days is how much the White House communications product can be termed political propaganda and how much it’s genuinely informational and fostering constructive engagement. If nothing else, last night’s online State of the Union broadcast by the White House, combining slides and live video, opens the door to still one more way technology is modifying and expanding political communication.

What you see below are The Bag’s live tweets with screen shots I took from the White House feed. Let me say up front that the tweets — with the exception of the guy in the cornfield and the Iran nuke threat — run to the cynical and the propagandistic. Still, I have to say there’s a lot to like about this new delivery. Above all, I admired the Administration’s effort when it came to information that can quickly make eyes glaze over that was suddenly enlivened.

Along with the frames leading this post, here are a few more screen grabs that never made it to Twitter that show some more moves.


Putting a face on unemployment using invited guests in the First Lady’s box.

I don’t think they’re examples. Those are Republican legislators in the red, I believe, and this is a genuine wedge issue.

And Kentucky’s Republican Gov, also in the First Lady’s box, is with us.

… Now, I can understand if some of you think this is largely digital lipstick on a pig. With the problems we’re facing though, I’m hoping that — on top of the greater marketing and entertainment value — it also leads to better bacon.

(screen grabs: WhiteHouse.com)

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