From Aliens To Televangelists, The GOP Gets Ready for YouTube

By Gail Shister 

Gail Shister
TVNewser Columnist

Republicans are less snazzy than Democrats, says CNN.

More precisely, YouTube videos submitted for tomorrow night’s G.O.P. Presidential debate include fewer “snazzy productions” than did those for the Democrats’ event, says David Bohrman, executive producer of CNN’s debate coverage.

“There’s a difference in mood and tone to many of the questions,” says Bohrman, CNN’s senior vice president of political programming. “There are fewer of what you’d call ‘YouTube-style videos,’ with lots of music, morphing and special effects.”

Though less elaborate, the vids feature “a couple of really excellent songs and some elaborate televangelist programs.” Along with the usual aliens and vampires.

CNN logged some 5,000 videos for the G.O.P. — up from 2,000 for the Democrats July 23 in Charleston, SC, according to Bohrman. About 40 will be used during the 8-to-10pmET debate in St. Petersburg.

The audio quality is much better this time, Bohrman says, “maybe because we complained about it in the first debate.”

As for the questions, “We’re trying to avoid obvious Democratic grenades and ‘gotchas,'” Bohrman says. “We want natively Republican questions that spark topics of interest or take advantage of candidates’ differences on issues.”

CNN avoided sleep grenades by closing down video submissions three days before the starting bell. More than 750 came in Sunday, last day for entries.

With the Democrats, videos were accepted until 3amET on debate day. Four bleary-eyed CNN staffers pulled an all-nighter, sifting through 500 submissions. Five were good enough to make air.

CNN is still bruised from criticism over its most recent debate, the Democratic face-off in Las Vegas earlier this month. The post-debate show was slammed because it didn’t fully disclose that CNN analyst James Carville is a maxed-out donor to Hillary Clinton and that analyst David Gergen once worked for President Clinton as well as other ex-Presidents.

“We sometimes forget that not everybody remembers who these people are,” says Bohrman. “Labeling them more overtly may be the smart thing to do.” He says he’s not sure who will critique the Republicans.

Meanwhile, Bohrman and his “secret cabal” have been putting in 15-to-18 hour days editing videos on the network’s new high-tech bus, CNN Express.

A bus?

“It’s the best hi-def production facility we have, with a really robust edit system and server,” he says. “It’s better than most edit rooms at CNN.”