Thursday, June 10, 2004

American Candidate (Showtime): Get the Scoop … Once every three months. Maybe.

American Candidate assured participants "it won't be a one-way conversation." But, for the last three months, it mostly has been as applicants' online efforts provided "window dressing," and they were kept in the cold about what was going on beyond the VIP velvet rope and inside the process Cutler claimed he'd be inviting the regular public to.

Folks who thought they might have a chance with AmCan asked again, again, and yet again, for any word and received resounding silence in reply. And though American Candidate still has not officially announced who the hand-picked pols are, in the first new, news release since their webpage went online in March, they want you to know Montel will be hosting. But that's all folks.

Non-potential candidates, those regular folk who applied for the show unaware that they needed a pedigree, have been asking for news for months on American Candidate's UN-interactive website.

Occasionally, usually after a persistent applicant sent multiple e-mails and called multiple times, an e-mail reply was sent offering no news except that they still had a chance and encouraging them to keep posting on the online message boards. But it was up to the regular folk to spread the word, since American Candidate couldn't be bothered.

Except, evidently, when it came to those privileged few American Candidate's hired experts had contacted privately and invited to participate. As Keith Boykin says on his website, "I've known about the show for the past few weeks."

Only weeks Keith? How ever did you get your application and video completed and mailed in by April 9?

And let's not forget the marvelously misleading American Candidate "ON THE WEB: See How They Run" that also appeared in early March, proclaiming, "For the next four months, AMERICAN CANDIDATE applicants have the opportunity to build up public support on this website."

Well, some of them, some of the time. For the most part, the ones not hand-picked. Remember, when Keith Boykin's new supporters were confused by his lack of a webpage a few days ago, after he announced his candidacy, Keith told them "I am not on the website because the website does not list the finalists." His page and others such as Joyce Riley's, Lisa Witter's, and Chrissy Gephardt's, were added deep in the night June 7th-8th after the press, not American Candidate, released the news. So, you couldn't see how they ran at all.

Evidently, what you could see was what some participants have rightly called "window dressing." American Candidate suggested to participants that their online diaries on the AmCan webpages could matter in the selection process, saying "We do read the boards and extra info helps, but we read the Diaries more." It seems, however, that candidates who offered AmCan less reading had better odds. The chosen ones who actually did have webpages offered remarkably few of the diary entries that AmCan was supposedly reading "more."

Malia Lazu appears to have offered the most. A total of three entries: two in mid April and one the first week in May.

Park Gillespie also offered only three on April 30th and May 12th and 13th. The first informed readers of the website address for a company he co-owns, and the second announced the birth of a baby. To be fair though, Mr. Gillespie's third and final entry, prefaced with the remark "Well before the campaign starts," did actually venture into politics. Apparently, Mr. Gillespie didn't realize that webpage was supposed to be for campaigning already, but decided to start early. It's been almost a month since, but presumably now that the "campaign" has begun, he'll post again. Someday.

To date, Mr. Freidrich and Mr. Vanech each have offered one entry. Mr. Mack has never posted in his diary, and under the heading "Issues," he simply tells readers "see" We would Mr. Mack, but that page is offline now that you've ditched those supporters for a reality show.

The "opportunity" American Candidate offered applicants and readers didn't pan out very well anyway, so perhaps the chosen ones simply lacked the persistence and passion displayed by some of the regular applicants.

Several applicants kept trying to use their webpages despite rampant problems. When multiple e-mails to the "help" address provided them went unanswered week after week, several resorted to posting on American Candidate's message boards complaining about webpages that wouldn't appear even after they'd been told they were "live." Others discovered that no matter how hard they tried to update their pages, nothing happened. Some found that their entries landed in an AmCan limbo while the show's censors checked their content or edited portions out. And American Candidate removed one candidate's webpage without prior notification when they didn't like his comments.

Perhaps the "opportunity" should have come with a disclaimer. Something along the lines of "Abandon all hope ye who attempt to participate here."

Post Script:
In one of the few and far between e-mails from American Candidate that a frustrated applicant kindly posted to the message boards for others to read, "Rob" explained that American Candidate has "a small staff (me, on Web)."

Presumably, that's Rob Barrett "currently developing the interactive format for Actual Reality Pictures' American Candidate." And although Rob's eagerly sought after e-mails are rare, if you'd like to see more of his writing, you can always visit his other gig at ConsumerWebWatch where he's a regular contributor.

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