Senator John McCain and ABC's George Stephanopoulos have just wrapped up the most widely anticipated Twitterview of all time. How does the burgeoning social-media tool work for a political interview? Here are some of our takeaways:
It's just as easy, or probably even easier, to evade questions on Twitter than in face-to-face interviews. Stephanopoulos's first question was "How do u tweet -- dictate or type? Blackberry or pc?" McCain said BlackBerry and PC, but neglected to answer the first part. Later, when Stephanopoulos asked McCain if he agreed with his daughter's recent highly public opinions, McCain responded, "like any family we agree on some things and disagree on others." Thanks, that's very helpful. Also, great job having your daughter's back.
Having access to the Internet and, at least in McCain's case, probably some staff during the interview didn't make the interview any more accurate. How did McCain pull off claiming that he hadn't backed an AIG bailout, and convincing Stephanopoulos that he hadn't, when actually he had? You're on the Internet right now — look it up!
Brevity can be a curse and a blessing. We've worried that the 140-character tweet limit would inhibit politicians from giving thoughtful responses on complex issues. And that's still true, but it also forced McCain to simply cut to the chase, sparing us from the superfluous framing politicians utilize in their spoken answers.
Even so, the format wasn't exactly efficient. While it's kind of interesting to follow along with the action as it unfolds, Stephanopoulos and McCain could have covered the same ground of the 35-minute Twitterview in about 2 minutes on This Week.
McCain has a sense of humor about the whole thing: "Thanks a lot george, let's do it again soon. now i look forward to reading our followers comments and insults."