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History In The Making: The Free Debate

September 21, 2007

On May 3, 2007 the Obama campaign sent a letter to Democratic National Committee (DNC) chairman Howard Dean regarding a measure to make all Democratic Presidential debates free to view after the actual event. The campaign urges Dean to make these debates available by either placing them in the public domain, or licensing them under a Creative Commons (Attribution) license. They state that by making the debates more readily available, without charge, a broader audience of Americans will be able to participate in the politics honing in on the younger generation of voters. In fact, the Obama campaign acknowledges that the Internet is becoming an important medium for political speech. The letter to the chairman was actually written as a supportive response to a letter sent to the DNC from “a bipartisan coalition of academics, bloggers and Internet activists” who believed that the measure would be incredibly beneficial to the public sector.
Following Obama’s letter, Edwards and Dodd also sent messages in support of the measure. On May 5th, a huge breakthrough occured when CNN decided to televise the June debates and make them available to the public for free without restrictions. The RNC took a different standpoint entirely however, and refused to respond to the call. In fact FOX decided against making the debates free to the public.
Overall, this victory with the Democrats has made a major breakthrough for Internet bloggers, academics, and the American public as a whole. Within this small victory lies a greater issue. The victory proves that the Internet has become an increasingly important medium used by the American public. It also raises the idea that through blogs, letters, petitions, etc. the everyday person can make changes occur.

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