Sunday, June 13, 2004

American Candidate: See How They Run … With different rules for a few, webpages outside of AmCan, and more sham.

The Candidates continue their faux runs, and the cognitive dissonance continues as the "rigorous paces" of running on reality TV don't apply to Chrissy, Showtime publicists offer excuses, and RJ Cutler and candidates provide soundbites contrary to the evidence and off the AmCan un-interactive sites.

If readers held any doubts as to whether the game was rigged, they need only look at how it's being played. While some of the candidates not eliminated in Cutler's clueless first test – a sham body count – continued onto New Hampshire, one of Cutler's privileged choices did not.

When you choose well-known candidates instead of those
"from the ranks of ordinary citizens" as Cutler once claimed, it seems scheduling can be a problem. Ms. Gephardt didn't participate in the rally at Keene NH. Presumably, this was because of her previous commitments in DC at "Capital Pride," a week long gay pride event that began on June 6th and continues throughout tonight.

Perhaps Showtime publicist John Walsh was unaware that news of Chrissy's prior gig is easily available on the Internet, because when a writer in the Keene Sentinel asked about her absence, Walsh
"without mentioning her by name," coyly replied that "the 10th candidate 'might have taken ill'."

Given that Ms. Gephardt also has a commitment to speak at a fundraiser in Atlanta on July 16th and 17th, if she's still on the show, she may also "fall ill," or get a free pass during that phase of American Candidate as well. Cutler touted American Candidate as "designed to test" the "presidential mettle" of those chosen, but in a design move that illustrates just how skewed and scripted his tests are, privilege, as usual, means making exceptions for the power players.

AmCan states on its website that candidates
"will be put through the rigorous paces of anyone running for this office," but we can safely assume that if golden girl Chrissy was ill, that promise didn't apply to her. Especially since RJ Cutler told a journalist from The Union Leader that Chrissy "was not competing in that phase of the competition."

In a repeat performance of the "special rules" by which many of the chosen candidates were allowed to participate, Cutler seems intent on illustrating for viewers that in his compromised system the privileged can play whenever they like – whether that means having access to the show long after the deadlines for participation set for the regular Joes and Jills, or skipping portions of the show's tests entirely. What's more, several of the candidates Cutler once claimed he would choose for their "vision" appear to see no problem with this state of affairs.

Lisa Witter's AmCan Webpage highlights her assertion that "Our common enemy is unchecked privilege, our common weapon an active citizenry," and that others have "convinced us to deplore politics as a dirty sport." On her brand new blog outside of AmCan, created after she announced, she adds "We learned about basic principles of fairness at very early age – at home -- in school -- at the playground. And, we are deeply offended by those that don't play by the rules."

Yet, given that Ms. Witter's page never even appeared on AmCan until the waning minutes before midnight June 7th, after her press release announcing her candidacy, and two weeks after AmCan stopped adding a few window dressing applicants here and there, one can't help but wonder if she ever made the April 9 deadline AmCan claimed it had set for the long application and accompanying video.

The question has been put to the chosen candidates on the AmCan message boards, with the added note that "videos" created by anyone associated with AmCan would indicate a "privilege" not accorded those who played by the regular rules, but to date, none of the chosen have replied. Some regular candidates have, however, and revealed that they spent not only time but also money in order to play by AmCan's rules and deadlines with overnight packages.

This active citizen would like to check Ms. Witter's privilege, amongst others already noted in this blog, because it sure seems to me that Cutler's running this game with a whole different set of playground rules, closer to a dirty sport and far from fair. But don't expect any disclosure from AmCan.

In an about face from Showtime's claim that “The purpose of the ‘American Candidate’ series is for the American people to select a 'People’s Candidate',” and Cutler's assertions that "the whole philosophy of this show is to make the [political] process available," and "engage people in the political process in a way that has never been done before," Cutler has DIS-engaged himself from any comments that might reveal just how Candidates like Witter were selected. And whether they went through the same process as the regular Joes and Jills.

Questions of selection seem particularly pertinent in view of Showtime's and Cutler's claims that we, the American people, would be making the selection. And in light of comments such as Ms. Witter's about fairness and one set of rules for all. But in Keene, Cutler refused to say how candidates were chosen, and remarked
"Eventually, we will discuss the criteria but at this phase of the show that is confidential."

When RJ? One would think an examination of the process of selection you undertook for us, the American people, would be PRIORITY ONE. Unless, of course, you're more interested in making a regular piece of entertainment, one that doesn't create any new ideas about the political process you're imitating so well, and contrary to your stated goals.

In another twist, millionaire Bob Vanech, a golden boy from Choate and Boston College, reveals that his "vision" for the participation of the American people begins by offering us pseudo-fame. Bob's site on AmCan hasn't been updated since March 31, but he's got another website he's using instead, where his main lead-in to entice supporters is the fresh new vision "Would you like to be on TV?" and the boast that his "volunteers and supporters are frequently filmed by Showtime's American Candidate camera crew for many hours a day... if you are there, you will have a great chance to be on camera... guaranteed."

Yup, that message is so important that Bob's decided to lead with it as his most persuasive pitch to reveal his "presidential mettle." Since he can no longer use his cash to buy out and out influence, it seems Bob's experience has led him to believe that the American people can be bought with the promise of fleeting TV time.

Thanks for thinking the best of us Bob – we appreciate your view of us as caring most about a possible few minutes as extras on reality TV.

It's a humorous take though, coming from a big business guy who gave free advertising to American Candidate but now claims he's going to challenge "big business" and fight against those who wield money's power to influence politics. Keep in mind too, Bob says, "To keep the campaign 'pure,' I will not accept financial contributions."

Good thing Bob … since your early efforts weren't exactly pure, the FEC has told American Candidate that contributions are a big No-No, and the news that you CAN'T accept contributions has been public for months.

But even if candidates can't buy their way through the show, as we've seen, money, clout, and privilege, sure could help when it came to getting on it.

AmCan hired gun and political consultant Joe Trippi told The Union Leader's Gil Bliss that American Candidate
“is about a system that isn’t working." He was right, and Cutler is recreating that system just fine.

If you reached this spot via google's individual page archiving, and you'd like to read more, just click AMERICAN CANDIDATE: The AmCan Sham