Tech, Politics and Grassroots, Crummy Little Podcast

Crummy Little Podcast Episode 3: Todd Van Etten

There aren’t many people who can keep up with the ever-evolving intersection between technology and politics. Todd Van Etten, Chief Digital Strategist for The Herald Group, is one of them, and he does it well. He’s this week’s guest on the Crummy Little Podcast, chatting about online politics and advocacy.

You can download/listen here or through iTunes.


Why the NFL loves Deflategate

ESPN’s Steven Wulf recounts a non-controversy Major League Baseball faced in the early 1990’s, when they tried to enforce regulations about glove sizes. Wulf points out that MLB handled the situation quietly and without fanfare, in contrast to how the NFL seemingly flubbed and fumbled their way through Deflategate. Had the NFL handled Tom Brady’s appeal better, he theorizes, we might not have been talking about it for the past couple of weeks.

But would the NFL really want a situation like that – where people aren’t talking about the league?

It may not have been the actual strategy, but things worked out pretty well for the NFL. Sports media spent the back half of July talking about the league. Fans had something to debate and discuss among themselves. And the controversy wasn’t initiade by someone smacking a woman or a kid.

For all their bluster, the Patriots come out of this pretty well, to. They’ll have a chance to rest their 38-year-old quarterback for a quarter of the season, but have him ready to go for the playoffs. They’ll also get an extended look at backup Jimmy Garappolo so they can figure out how talented he is and what kind of draft picks they’ll trade him for.

For the league that thrives on constant attention and chatter, what could be worse than handling a situation like this quietly?

media, Politics and Grassroots

Could Obama win another term?

That was the big question in this week’s post at Communities Digital News. The answer (spoiler alert): You bet he could. President Obama is possibly the best campaigner the Oval Office has seen, and he certainly has more tools to help him than any of his predecessors.

An under-the-radar element of this discussion is that it sprang from a comment Obama made speaking in Africa, where he told a group of African diplomats to move away from governmental systems which allow someone to declare himself “President for Life.” He’s right, of course, but the comment had a hint of first-world arrogance. (Imagine the optics of a white American President saying the same thing.) It’s a good thing he said it, though, and that he escaped criticism for doing so.

Crummy Little Podcast, media

Crummy Little Podcast Episode 2: Beverly Hallberg

District Media Group Founder and President Beverly Hallberg is one of the savviest media professionals in Washington, D.C., and she did a great job previewing the upcoming Republican debate on this week’s Crummy Little Podcast. She also talks about why Hillary Clinton isn’t connecting with voters (and why Bernie Sanders is). There’s even some baseball talk at the end.

Download the podcast here or check it out on iTunes.

media, Politics and Grassroots

The Republican debate is set up all wrong

No kidding, right? But there are two big problems with the debate to talk about in this weekend’s post at Communities Digital News.

In reality, fitting a giant candidate field into an hour long debate is a square peg-round hole problem. The networks, sponsors, and even the Republican party are trying to figure out how to handle a historically large field using the same promotion vehicles they used when only a handful of people could afford to mount a primary campaign.

It may not happen every single cycle, but it will happen again. Networks need to use the 2016 primary season to figure out how to handle it.

Crummy Little Podcast, media, Politics and Grassroots

The last thing the world needs is another crummy little podcast…

…But, as Chris Elliott replied when David Letterman asked him if people would want to see a movie like Cabin Boy, “Ask me if I care.” (And I’m pretty sure that flick won an Oscar.)

My newest project is the Crummy Little Podcast – an excuse for me to talk to smart people about stuff I find interesting. The first guest is an old Friend of the Program, Matt Lewis, who talks about his forthcoming book, Too Dumb To Fail: How the GOP Won Elections By Sacrificing Ideas (And How It Can Reclaim Its Conservative Roots). Donald Trump, The Simpsons, and the Counting Crows all come up, as you’d expect.

Check out some extras and keep up to date over at Or, if you’re so inclined, subscribe on iTunes.

media, Politics and Grassroots

He’s Trump! He’s Trump! He’s in their heads. (Sorry.)

Donald Trump is leading the pack? Not so fast. This week’s post at Communities Digital News does some critical analysis of those results that news media ought to be doing. The polls the news reports are citing aren’t looking in the right places, nor are they asking questions of the right people. They should know better than to project a front runner off of that but knowing better probably doesn’t help attract eyeballs.

In a just-recorded podcast episode with friend-of-the-program Matt Lewis (and some post-podcast discussions) he pointed out that there is a legitimate affinity for Trump. It is kind of nice to see a Republican who doesn’t walk on eggshells and apologize for his or her beliefs, which is something too many national GOP figures do. So there is something to Trump’s early support.

But is it anything more than name recognition? FiveThirtyEight doesn’t think so.

In reality, showing up to vote is much different from answering a telephone poll, especially in caucus states. It takes a lot of hard, specialized work. That’s why Trump’s fundraising will be interesting to watch, even if he doesn’t really need the money. For all his millions, fundraising shows an organizational discipline that can translate to other fields as well.