No, I’m not talking economic growth or border security or energy independence. I’m talking about access to political debates. I missed last week’s major Dem debate and this week’s GOP versions. I move around a lot, and I assumed that in our IP-connected, anytime, anywhere media world, I’d have no problem finding an unedited copy of the debates to sate my appetite for democracy. No such luck.

Sure there were five million sound-bitten clips on YouTube and much in the way of text-based blog analysis. MSNBC, the sponsor of the dem debate, has a version on its website, but it lacks the full introductions, is incomplete or chopped up and doesn’t allow fast forwarding. iTunes was happy to provide me with the 2004 presidential debates (because painful flashbacks are just what I need right now) and the infamously reliable BitTorrent networks came up blank.

It’s easier to find child pornography online than a US presidential candidates debate. There is something very wrong when a citizen actively seeking to engage in the democratic conversation is left empty-handed on such a simple request. Imagine, these major media companies are “protecting their intellectual property” by denying access to obviously public-interest content.

Well, times they are a-changing. In a letter to Howard Dean, Sen. Obama wrote:

I am writing in strong support of a letter from a bipartisan coalition of academics, bloggers and Internet activists recently addressed to you and the Democratic National Committee. The letter asks that the video from any Democratic Presidential debate be available freely after the debate, by either placing the video in the public domain, or licensing it under a Creative Commons (Attribution) license.

Sen Edwards and Republican Matt Margolis (of Blogs for Bush) support a similar stance.


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