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Washington - Social Media: Big Bird Endangered, Lehrer Lost Control and Romney Crushed Obama

Published on: October 4, 2012 10:08 AM
By: AP
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(AP Photo/Matt Sayles, File)(AP Photo/Matt Sayles, File)

Washington - Big Bird is endangered. Jim Lehrer lost control. And Mitt Romney crushed President Barack Obama.

Those were the judgments rendered across Twitter and Facebook Wednesday during the first debate of the 2012 presidential contest. While millions turned on their televisions to watch the 90-minute showdown, a smaller but highly engaged subset took to social networks to discuss and score the debate as it unspooled in real time.

Until recently, debate watchers would have waited through the entire broadcast to hear analysis and reaction from a small cadre of television pundits. Social media has democratized the commentary, giving voice to a far wider range of participants who can shape the narrative long before the candidates reach their closing statements.

“People still use old media to watch the debates, but they use social networks and other new media to have influence, voice opinions and be involved,” said Scott Talan, an assistant professor of communication at American University who studies social media and politics. “Old media is not dead; it’s growing. But now we have more people involved and engaged because of digital means.”

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The political conversation plays out across a range of social platforms, especially on the industry giant Facebook and on Twitter, the social networking hub where opinions are shared through 140-character comments known as tweets. Reflecting the changing times, many television analysts now monitor Twitter and Facebook feeds and use information gleaned from those platforms to inform their punditry.

Twitter announced shortly after Wednesday’s debate that it had been the most tweeted event in U.S. political history, topping this year’s Republican and Democratic National Conventions.

With 11.1 million comments, Wednesday’s debate was the fourth most tweeted telecast of any kind, coming in just behind the most recent Grammy awards, MTV’s Video Music Awards and the Super Bowl, according to William Powers, director of the Crowdwire, an election project of the social analytics firm Bluefin Labs. The project found 55 percent of the social comments about the debate were made by women, 45 percent by men.

Unlike the wider viewing audience, debate watchers who comment on social media “are politically engaged in the strongest possible way,” Powers said. But, he added, “it’s a bit of a hothouse population. It does skew younger, and I’m not sure how much middle America is represented.”

Twitter scored Romney the debate’s clear winner according to Peoplebrowsr, a web analytics firm. The group found 47,141 tweets mentioning Romney and “win or winner” compared to just 29,677 mentioning Obama and “win or winner.”

Romney was also the top tweet in battleground states including Florida, Ohio, Nevada and Colorado, Peoplebrowsr found.

In Ohio, a key swing state where polls show Obama has emerged with a lead in recent weeks, the top two debate tweets were “Romney” with 15,115 and “Mitt” with 5,446. “Obama” placed third with 5,328.

Search engine Google announced the debate’s four most searched terms: Simpson-Bowles (the bipartisan fiscal commission Obama appointed); Dodd-Frank (a democratic-backed financial reform law); Who is Winning the Debate; and Big Bird.

The debate, focused on domestic issues, was a numbers-heavy discussion of the economy, debt and entitlement reform. It produced strong reactions on Twitter from its earliest moments, from the candidates’ attire and appearance - “Obama: solid blue tie with dimple. Romney: red tie with stripes, no dimple,” tweeted publisher Arianna Huffington - to Jenga, a stacking game Romney and his wife, Ann, were reportedly playing with their grandchildren before the debate began.

From there, the social chatter settled into a few major themes.

- Big Bird. Early in the debate, Romney said he would defund public broadcasting to bring down the deficit but added that he liked Big Bird, a popular character on PBS’ “Sesame Street.” Social networks immediately responded, with participants posting spoof photos of Big Bird and other “Sesame Street” characters on Facebook and setting up parody Big Bird Twitter accounts. During a lull in the debate, an ABC news executive tweeted, “avian life is outstripping human life in this debate.”

- Jim Lehrer. The veteran PBS newsman was widely panned as the debate moderator on social media, with viewers complaining he asked weak questions and did a poor job of keeping command of the debate’s time and tempo. Lehrer’s name became a trending topic on Twitter, and his performance drew jeers from countless participants. “Jim Lehrer is like the grandpa at dinner table who falls asleep and wakes up randomly shouting,” tweeted a woman with the Twitter handle of Bookgirl96.

- Romney’s big win. Social media participants marveled at Romney’s strong outing and pronounced Obama’s debate performance flat, non-energetic and meandering - a dud. While Obama has been leading Romney in battleground state polls in recent days, the consensus on social networks was that Romney’s debate performance had breathed new life into his campaign.

Obama supporters were some of his toughest critics. Andrew Sullivan, a pro-Obama writer for the Daily Beast whose Twitter feed, Sullydish, has a loyal following, declared, “This was a disaster for the president.” Joe Mercurio, a New York media buyer, wrote on Facebook, “It could have been worse.”


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1

 Oct 04, 2012 at 10:16 AM Vasserman Says:

It is really hard for Obama to say good morning without a teleprompter.

2

 Oct 04, 2012 at 11:04 AM Sociologist Says:

Reply to #1  
Vasserman Says:

It is really hard for Obama to say good morning without a teleprompter.

What point are you trying to make?

3

 Oct 04, 2012 at 11:06 AM Anonymous Says:

Reply to #1  
Vasserman Says:

It is really hard for Obama to say good morning without a teleprompter.

I have been watching Presidential debates for decades and Lehrer has to be the worst moderator ever. Both debtors walked all over him. He did not call either out or stop them when they were out of time.

I am not in favor of Meh, but he won hands down.

4

 Oct 04, 2012 at 10:24 AM dave from 5towns Says:

obama was never placed on the hot seat to answer tough question....since the media acts like his big brother...john McCain couldn't challenge him since he was 30 years past his prime...and lost his sarpnees

5

 Oct 04, 2012 at 10:40 AM Pops Says:

Watching the debate I got the impression that Obama was play-acting, trying to portray himself as wise and presidential while Romney was the one with the wisdom, intellect and insight required of a statesman and a leader of the world's most powerful nation. Obama has finallly been unmasked. Without a script and teleprompter, he is helpless. It was downright embarrassing watching him in the ring, knocked out by Romney.

6

 Oct 04, 2012 at 10:42 AM wilyamsburg Says:

#1? What r u trying 2 say? That abama repeats.. & romney says its own ?

7

 Oct 04, 2012 at 10:43 AM worried mom Says:

if romney becomes president we will lose seasme street what are going to do with our kids without big bird

8

 Oct 04, 2012 at 11:37 AM speakup Says:

The White House aides and staff are sweating bullets. Their worst fears are materializing. Five weeks before the election, the whole world is finding out what Obama's staff has known for four years - that the emperor has no clothes!!! Everyone, from Axelrod to the CNN anchors, covered up for the president throughout his tenure, and they did a great job of hiding his ignorance and lack of experience. But in just one and a half hours, Romney exposed Obama as a fumbling, ill-prepared, and basically ignorant man. Ignorant re: the economy. Lacking insight re: the most important issues facing America today. Unable to right himself or defend basic principles which he instituted. It was incredible to watch Romney destroy this so-called emperor. The emperor with no clothes....

9

 Oct 04, 2012 at 11:38 AM Anonymous Says:

Reply to #7  
worried mom Says:

if romney becomes president we will lose seasme street what are going to do with our kids without big bird

If the Republicans regain control of the White House the loss of Sesame Street will be the least of your kids worries.

10

 Oct 04, 2012 at 11:49 AM PMOinFL Says:

No question that the first debate victory went to Romney. But saying he "crushed" Obama is a bit of a stretch. Romney got caught in several lies, and he never really landed a "knockout" punch. Maybe he took pity on Obama who was clearly off his game, but after about 20 minutes I figured Mitt would deliver some hard punches. Instead he stuck to his script, and told a bunch of lies that the fact-checkers pounced on.

Don't get me wrong, Obama told a few whoppers of his own. BUT, when you are clearly winning the debate, why sink down to lying? If you're winning, keep it honest. Mitt's problem is that he has been caught in too many lies already. Nobody believes he is really in it for the middle class.

He should have used this opportunity to sell us on HIMSELF. He didn't. He told us why he doesn't like Obama, threw Michelle Bachmann's "death panels" line out there (which has already been proven to be a lie), and insisted that he would repeal Obamacare... except for the 90% of it he wants to keep.

Mr. Romney, you better figure out WHO you are and do it QUICKLY if you expect to win over voters.

It is still a win, but it was a "small win" in my book.

11

 Oct 04, 2012 at 11:53 AM Anonymous Says:

Reply to #2  
Sociologist Says:

What point are you trying to make?

That you and all you lib demoncrats are nuts for voting for obama.

12

 Oct 04, 2012 at 11:58 AM Anonymous Says:

Reply to #9  
Anonymous Says:

If the Republicans regain control of the White House the loss of Sesame Street will be the least of your kids worries.

I agree. He will cut all welfare and medicaid. My family has collected welfare for 2 generations and there are 40 of us involved. What will we do without section 8 and food stamps? I am 52 and too old to work or learn a trade at this point and my kinder are too young to learn how hard life can be. Believe me, we are scared!

13

 Oct 04, 2012 at 12:19 PM Sherree Says:

The best he could do was say "I like that it is called Obamacare"

14

 Oct 04, 2012 at 12:30 PM Anonymous Says:

Reply to #7  
worried mom Says:

if romney becomes president we will lose seasme street what are going to do with our kids without big bird

Romney just said that it is not worth borrowing money from China to support PBS, when PBS is making TONS and TONS of money through Sesame Street toys, dolls, books and videos.
PBS can support itself like every other television station. And if it can't, it can sell off the rights to another television station. Enough kids like Elmo and Big Bird that they will stay around...
And this is what you got out of the debates? THIS??? Please- decide who to vote for on more important topics. Like the ECONOMY. It is failing the way it is. We need some change.

15

 Oct 04, 2012 at 12:33 PM Anonymous Says:

Reply to #9  
Anonymous Says:

If the Republicans regain control of the White House the loss of Sesame Street will be the least of your kids worries.

But at least if Romney becomes President:
I wont be subject to Obamacare.
the economy wont be failing.
Unemployment will finally go under 8% (wait, I thought Obama promised it wouldn't go above that? Has it been under that in his entire 4 years???)
Our president wont be bowing down to foreign leaders, going on apology tours, and making a fool of ourselves in the global market.

With those things not applicable anymore to worry about, I think I can handle almost anything else.

16

 Oct 04, 2012 at 12:33 PM Anonymous Says:

Reply to #9  
Anonymous Says:

If the Republicans regain control of the White House the loss of Sesame Street will be the least of your kids worries.

ROMNEY WON! He showed the world how much a fumbling idiot Obama really is!!
Without a teleprompter, Obama is a fool!!

17

 Oct 04, 2012 at 12:35 PM Anonymous Says:

Sesame Street offers fundimental psychology for a child. If Romney is elected, expect a future of children who are hard minded and unprepared for a democracy of dignity. Of course, we can just oursource Elmo.

18

 Oct 04, 2012 at 01:03 PM Anonymous Says:

Reply to #9  
Anonymous Says:

If the Republicans regain control of the White House the loss of Sesame Street will be the least of your kids worries.

You are right. They might have a future in America and America will again be a place where people want Visas to live and to have families, and not become China. If obama is re-election you will see super inflation and no jobs because the
dollars will crash

19

 Oct 04, 2012 at 01:09 PM PaulinSaudi Says:

Romney managed to not put himself out of the running. Obama managed to not put Romney out of the running too. So Mitt lives to fight another day.

20

 Oct 04, 2012 at 01:32 PM yaakov doe Says:

Reply to #9  
Anonymous Says:

If the Republicans regain control of the White House the loss of Sesame Street will be the least of your kids worries.

The loss of Big Bird won't effect the frum since they don't have TV. It's the loss of Food Stamps under the GOP that will hurt. Remember Reagen is the one that cut deeply into section 8 funding.

21

 Oct 04, 2012 at 01:57 PM Sociologist Says:

Reply to #11  
Anonymous Says:

That you and all you lib demoncrats are nuts for voting for obama.

You should keep in mind that the "lib democrats" are no different from the old-time Republicans (before the right wing religious miltants took over the party) and because of those people you have the liberties that you have today. Religious extremists of any religion are dangerous.

22

 Oct 04, 2012 at 02:03 PM Mark Levin Says:

Big Bird & Snuffy need not worry. Quite a number of conservatives have come on record as saying they would be more than happy to help fund Sesame Street, especially while selling commercials!

23

 Oct 04, 2012 at 02:43 PM Kzler Says:

May the true Mr.Romney come forth. Is it the Mormon Romney who is his brothr's keeper or is it his running maTE Ayn Rand survival of the fittest. Is Obamacare evil or as he now says he will keep it. Are the 47% his true belief to be dumped on the wayside or is HE ready to be a President for all Americans. Mr. Romney is a chameleon changing to the circumstances as shown in the polls. He was successful for rich investors and only some of the electorate are rich investors

24

 Oct 04, 2012 at 04:16 PM Anonymous Says:

Obama looked like a deer staring at headlights heading at him.

25

 Oct 04, 2012 at 05:44 PM ChareidiMan Says:

In essence it does not really matter if Obama won the debate or not because the American people will vote him in again into office either way.

90% of voters are not educated and don't care if Romney is 10000% smarter and qualified for the job, all they care is what MTV and celebrities tell them.

26

 Oct 04, 2012 at 06:04 PM Sociologist Says:

Reply to #15  
Anonymous Says:

But at least if Romney becomes President:
I wont be subject to Obamacare.
the economy wont be failing.
Unemployment will finally go under 8% (wait, I thought Obama promised it wouldn't go above that? Has it been under that in his entire 4 years???)
Our president wont be bowing down to foreign leaders, going on apology tours, and making a fool of ourselves in the global market.

With those things not applicable anymore to worry about, I think I can handle almost anything else.

If you really believe what you have written then you probably are a member of the current Republican Party. If are not then you you should join because you like millions of other poorly educated Republicans (who have no clue about civics and economics) actually believe this narishkeit.

27

 Oct 04, 2012 at 06:25 PM esther Says:

Reply to #20  
yaakov doe Says:

The loss of Big Bird won't effect the frum since they don't have TV. It's the loss of Food Stamps under the GOP that will hurt. Remember Reagen is the one that cut deeply into section 8 funding.

is that really your bottom line? why don't you look at the country at large and see what goverment dependency is doing to america.raising our own to have this tzu gekumene attitude is also terrible. wouldn't it be better to vote republican and have our own taxes go toward our own schools? then we wouldn't have to ask for goverement tzedak. the problem is so many frum people,esepcially on the east coast,don't see an issue with that.the more you can get,the better.

28

 Oct 04, 2012 at 06:35 PM Brian Says:

Reply to #12  
Anonymous Says:

I agree. He will cut all welfare and medicaid. My family has collected welfare for 2 generations and there are 40 of us involved. What will we do without section 8 and food stamps? I am 52 and too old to work or learn a trade at this point and my kinder are too young to learn how hard life can be. Believe me, we are scared!

I have much compassion for you as I see you your family as the quintessential victim of socialism. Your family and millions of others were conditioned to forget self responsibility and just depend on government. Sadly, your family just became adept at collecting handouts and illiterate in financial self responsibility and sustainibility. The socialists in both parties did you no favor in showering you with those freebies, thereby removing all your ambitions for success, in favor of "guaranteed" survival. View this as a blessing to take inventory of your values and reassess where your goals are. Incidentally, your biggest enemy is not Obama but inflation caused by liberal fiscal policy. The value of your benefits decrease ever so more DAILY! I hardly believe Romney will cancel entitlements, but inflation will cancel the effectiveness of them. The only way to repair a lifelong vice is to hit rock bottom. Wise people see the rock bottom pitfall that lay ahead and start reversing the vice in advance. Please start fixing you problems now! It will save you and your family much grief. Good luck.

29

 Oct 04, 2012 at 07:51 PM STRAIGHT_FACTS Says:

Reply to #28  
Brian Says:

I have much compassion for you as I see you your family as the quintessential victim of socialism. Your family and millions of others were conditioned to forget self responsibility and just depend on government. Sadly, your family just became adept at collecting handouts and illiterate in financial self responsibility and sustainibility. The socialists in both parties did you no favor in showering you with those freebies, thereby removing all your ambitions for success, in favor of "guaranteed" survival. View this as a blessing to take inventory of your values and reassess where your goals are. Incidentally, your biggest enemy is not Obama but inflation caused by liberal fiscal policy. The value of your benefits decrease ever so more DAILY! I hardly believe Romney will cancel entitlements, but inflation will cancel the effectiveness of them. The only way to repair a lifelong vice is to hit rock bottom. Wise people see the rock bottom pitfall that lay ahead and start reversing the vice in advance. Please start fixing you problems now! It will save you and your family much grief. Good luck.

How could you fall for #12's post? Can't you see he is mocking all these programs? I sure hope this wasn't an honest post as who would discuss this so openly without any shame whatsoever!

30

 Oct 04, 2012 at 07:54 PM DB_from_LI Says:

Reply to #6  
wilyamsburg Says:

#1? What r u trying 2 say? That abama repeats.. & romney says its own ?

What he is trying to say is that a teleprompter tells you what to say and without being told what to say Obama is clueless/speechless. Whereas Romney without a prompter KNEW all he needed to say because he understood it.

31

 Oct 04, 2012 at 10:44 PM Sociologist Says:

Reply to #30  
DB_from_LI Says:

What he is trying to say is that a teleprompter tells you what to say and without being told what to say Obama is clueless/speechless. Whereas Romney without a prompter KNEW all he needed to say because he understood it.

You poor soul. Have any interest in real estate development? I have a large swath of land in NOLA.

32

 Oct 04, 2012 at 10:51 PM DanielBarbaz Says:

Reply to #12  
Anonymous Says:

I agree. He will cut all welfare and medicaid. My family has collected welfare for 2 generations and there are 40 of us involved. What will we do without section 8 and food stamps? I am 52 and too old to work or learn a trade at this point and my kinder are too young to learn how hard life can be. Believe me, we are scared!

"52 and too old to work"???

My dear friend, unless you are G.d for bid disabled, why are you too old to work? My father obm worked well into his 80s. He had a work ethic and wanted to contribute to society.

I suggest you try. You might find that you will be happier.

33

 Oct 04, 2012 at 11:13 PM pickythinker Says:

Reply to #26  
Sociologist Says:

If you really believe what you have written then you probably are a member of the current Republican Party. If are not then you you should join because you like millions of other poorly educated Republicans (who have no clue about civics and economics) actually believe this narishkeit.

Same classic liberal post claim every republican is from montana and nebraska.What about the millions of people who vote for obama from the slums. they are the people who vote him in because he's a) African american b) promises social security and all the healthcare you can ever need. I think you need to reexamine the democratic voting base you may be in for a surprise.

34

 Oct 05, 2012 at 10:22 AM Barry521 Says:

Big Bird brings in enough revenue to be self sustaining. Read some financial reports on Big bird programming.
It's like everything else.. Give something free, and the people will revolt the moment it is taken away.
Let all these so called free loading telecasters, either fail, or emerge as self sustaining entities.

35

 Oct 05, 2012 at 01:05 PM PMOinFL Says:

Reply to #34  
Barry521 Says:

Big Bird brings in enough revenue to be self sustaining. Read some financial reports on Big bird programming.
It's like everything else.. Give something free, and the people will revolt the moment it is taken away.
Let all these so called free loading telecasters, either fail, or emerge as self sustaining entities.

Actually... it doesn't make enough money. It makes barely enough money to pay for that ONE program. Other educational programs that don't have "fuzzy characters" to license for merchandising COST money. Education (even TV education) is not, or has it ever been, FREE. You can choose to watch PBS educational programming or you can choose not to. That's your choice.

That being said, so many local laws need to be changed in order for PBS stations to be 100% independent. Cutting off federal funding for the PROGRAMMING (which has nothing to do with the individual stations), only shifts the burden to the state/county who will have to collect that money instead.

Now the real question: How much money do we taxpayers spend on public broadcasting? $1.39 per US taxpayer (according to Forbes op/ed from 10/16/2011, but some liberal publications put it at $1.24). That includes PBS, NPR and even the science, history and civics programs & films that kids see in school.

Personally, I'm fine with $1.39/YEAR to keep profitless, educational programming on the air and in schools. Perhaps we wouldn't have as many stupid people in this country.

Conservatism + Education = PATRIOTISM

36

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