Tag Archives: politics

Front-row seat to John Edwards sex scandal

Rielle Hunter sitting next to him)

I had no idea that when former Senator John Edwards invited me to come along on his plane back in December of 2006 that I would have had a front-row seat to a sex scandal. John Edwards today admitted he had an affair with Rielle Hunter back in 2006.

I, along with a few other journalists I had a front-row seat and have some of the only photos of Hunter.

See, stuff like this always seems to happen to “other people.” People you don’t know. Never have met. Don’t care about.

In this case, though, my wife, Maryam, interviewed Elizabeth Edwards. I interviewed John and sat next to Hunter. All while not having any clue about the secret they were all keeping.

It reminds me that as a blogger/journalist I have to always capture images, not knowing what the real story actually will turn out being. And always keep looking beyond what I was being presented.

The photo above is Hunter sitting next to Edwards. I never saw them behave inappropriately in front of me and Edwards let me hang out with him nearly around the clock.

There are lots of stories on Google News. Personally, my thoughts go out to everyone involved.

Here’s all my photos of the trip with John Edwards where he announced he was running for President of the United States. Unfortunately the videos I shot are gone, PodTech pulled them down and I don’t have the copyright on those, so can’t repost them.

Here’s my photo of Hunter:

Edwards' videoblogger - Reille Hunter

My Fourth of July Present to you: the geeky Congresswoman

Get in a patriotic mood by listening to our conversation with Zoe Lofgren, the world’s geekiest politician (she’s a Congresswoman from Silicon Valley). This is part of our trip to Washington DC.

“We’re boring,” she said, when I noted that Andrew Feinberg chastized me and other tech bloggers for not going to Washington DC more often (Andrew runs the Capitol Valley blog and setup these interviews for me).

After that bit of joking around we got into broadband policy, network neutrality, immigration policy, R&D incentives, and she tells us what geeks should pay attention to in the political world of Washington DC.

Enjoy, and enjoy the Fourth of July with your families. For those of you who aren’t Americans, see ya on Saturday.

Some notable things she said: “it’s ridiculous,” she said, that we’re increasing our prosecution of nannies and decreasing our prosecution of organized crime.

She advocated for a chief technology officer and decried that there are still lots of pieces of the government that are still working on paper.

Regarding advertising, she admitted that the technology is moving faster than Congress can move.

Thank you to Seagate, producers of great storage devices, for sponsoring this show, which makes it possible for us to bring stuff like this to you.

Our DC Trip in videos

We shot most of the interviews on our two HD camcorders, but they are a lot harder to work, especially when we had to do five interviews in one day, like we did on Wednesday. We now have a new rule: no more than three interviews on any one day. Five almost killed us, especially since two of them weren’t in the same place so we needed to take taxis across town (and after doing all that work we had a party where 500 people showed up to see me and Gary Vaynerchuk — thanks to Andrew Feinberg and Nick O’Neil and several others for helping to make that a really great event).

We did so many interviews and meetings I am having trouble remembering them all.

Let’s see if I can remember them all, and link to their videos on Qik.

  1. Speaker of the House’s Private Balcony. Great views down the National Mall.
  2. Senator Tom Coburn. We got that on Qik, but it’s hard to hear — we’ll get our HD version up in next couple of weeks.
  3. Representative Tim Ryan. Part I on Qik. Part II. HD version coming soon. Those were shot with Andrew Feinberg’s Nokia. I also shot it, but we had a ton of trouble getting a reliable connection, so I didn’t get the whole thing. But my recordings are here: Part I (before the Interview started). Part II. Part III. I called Tim “the Twittering Congressman).
  4. A tour of the Senate’s Press Room (recording devices and computers are not allowed into the press area on Senate Floor).
  5. Representative John Culberson. I liked him the best, he started out by showing us how he ambushed a reporter with his Qik video camera. Then he sat down with us and we had a fun conversation. Andrew Feinberg also filmed this interview and got a different point of view on the conversation (I liked his view better, and my camera crashed so I missed some of the coolest stuff while we were walking through his office. Luckily Andrew got that).
  6. Kyle McSlarrow, CEO of NCTA. Only filmed on our HD camcorders, we’ll have that up in the next couple of weeks.
  7. Representative Cliff Stearns. Only filmed on our HD camcorders, we’ll have that up in the next couple of weeks.
  8. Representative Ed Markey. Only filmed on our HD camcorders, we’ll have that up in the next couple of weeks.
  9. FCC Commissioner Jonathan Adelstein. Here’s my view of the Interview on my cell phone. It’ll be fun to see this compared with our HD camcorders.
  10. Representative Zoe Lofgren. Only filmed on our HD camcorders, we’ll have that up in the next couple of weeks.
  11. Barack Obama’s Tech Advisor, Alec Ross. Not filmed, since it was just a breakfast meeting.
  12. White House Deputy Press Secretary Scott Stanzel. See below.
  13. Deputy Director of Newseum, Jack Hurley gave us a tour of the Newseum. More on that in a second. See below.

We had two cancellations due to scheduling conflicts. Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi and Representative George Miller. We’ll be back in DC in September, so will try again then to setup interviews with them.

The Newseum tour was split up into several parts. The Deputy Director of Newseum showed us around.

  1. Lobby and 2-million-pixel screen. Shows us a news helicopter hanging in lobby and world’s largest hydraulic elevators.
  2. Top of Newseum (great views of the Capitol).
  3. Today’s Front Pages (every day they hang more than 600 front pages from around the world — printed out via PDFs).
  4. The 9/11 Gallery where a piece of the Pentagon, the cameras of the only journalist to die, front pages from around the world on 9/12, and the top of the World Trade Center.
  5. First Amendment walkway and gallery, which explain and demonstrate the freedoms Americans have due to the First Amendment.
  6. Master Control where a wall of computers and screens let a group of technicians to run all the systems in the museum (which is massive).
  7. Internet, TV, and Radio Gallery. Twitterer Jim Long is even featured in one of the videos on one of the walls that explain blogging).
  8. Journalists Memorial, which shows the hundreds of journalists who’ve died. Also shows off an armored pickup truck that protected journalists and is riddled with flak and bullet holes. Later, at about 3 minutes into this video, we see a map of the world which shows whether or not your country has a free press.
  9. Interactive newsroom gallery. Here you can create your own newscast, and play a game to test out your journalistic ethics.

Scott Stanzel, White House Deputy Press Secretary, shows us the Rose Garden, the outside of the Oval Office, the press area, and more. Sorry about the poor quality, I couldn’t get much bandwidth out of the Rose Garden. Later Marine One (a helicopter that holds the President) arrives, and I get told I can’t do live video while the President is outside. Even later Scott takes us into the White House Briefing Room and gives us a tour of that.

Finally, as we were checking out of our hotel we encountered a crowd of press and protesters waiting for Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama to show up.

Anyway, as we get more of our “pro quality” video up I’ll link those in as well.

The changing power in Washington DC

On Thursday morning I was at breakfast with Alec Ross. One of the tech guys who advises Barack Obama. He told me to look around the restaurant at the Mayflower hotel in Washington DC. He said I had landed a breakfast in one of the most powerful rooms in Washington DC (I had no idea I had before breakfast had started). Then he said “they are pissed.”

But back to who they were. He said they were the Democratic Party’s top “bundlers.” These are people who raise funds for candidates. They hold parties for rich people in their home towns and “bundle” those rich people’s donations together.

Until now they played a major role in deciding who the next president was, and they, Ross told me, do that to have access to the President.

Back to why they are pissed. Barack Obama, Ross told me, is raising tons of money $50 to $100 at a time outside of this “bundling” system. The people in the old system don’t like that a new system is being built and that they aren’t part of it.

ABC News was there at the dinner where Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton spoke together later that night and said you could cut the tension in the room with a knife.

Of course, it’ll be interesting to see if Obama’s new donors will get tired of constantly being seen as an ATM, which is the reaction of some over on FriendFeed.

Interesting to have been in that room, though, talking about tech policy with one of Barack’s advisers. He told me that Obama is going to make tech (both the policy of, and understanding of) one of the key differentiating points between Obama and McCain. To me that mattered more than who was raising money for the candidates, even as that story swirled all around us.

I asked Ross to get Obama online to demonstrate he’s willing to use online media to listen to his supporters and have conversations. I also encouraged Ross to bring Obama out to meet with other bloggers so he could explain his tech policies and how they are different from McCain’s. Of course, maybe they should just pass out this video, where McCain admits he doesn’t know how to use a computer.

Of course, at the Personal Democracy Forum earlier this week, that alone caused a pretty sizeable debate. Does a President need to know how to use a computer? Does that affect his view of the tech industry? Several Congressmen and women (Democrats, of course) told me it does. We were debating just that over on FriendFeed all week.

Regarding the Presidency, several Congressmen and women made it very clear they couldn’t wait to have a new President, no matter who it is. Both Republicans and Democrats told us that (mostly off camera). Why? They said this administration has blocked so many of their efforts that the Congress has totally frustrated them. 2009 will be an interesting year in politics, the city felt like a pressurized bottle just waiting for someone to pop the cap off.

How is technology changing the world of Washington D.C.?

Jesse Lee blogging in WordPress

When I walked into the Speaker of the House’s press room and saw a staff member (Jesse Lee, Senior New Media Advisor for Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi) typing a blog into WordPress, I knew the world had changed (I remarked that I knew that Matt Mullenweg, founder of Automattic which makes WordPress, was a smart guy from the first time I met him). That’s Jesse on this post typing into his WordPress-run blog.

When I was talking with Senator Tom Coburn and he didn’t flinch when we turned on our live cameras during our interview, I knew the world had changed.

When I pulled out my cell phone like a tourist and no one looked at me like I was a dork, I knew the world had changed.

When I was talking with Representative Tim Ryan and he was talking about debating his fellow Congressmen via Twitter, I knew the world had changed. (Here’s his Twitter account).

When I visited the Senate Chambers and saw laptops on the floor, I knew the world had changed.

When I was talking with Representative John Culberson and he talked about showing President Bush Twitter and Qik (and getting shut down by the Secret Service), (Part I, Part II, Andrew Feinberg filmed the whole thing with his camera here). I knew the world had changed. Plus he ambushed a TMZ video crew this afternoon.

Some things that haven’t changed?

1. The President, today, was shown Qik and Twitter by Congressman John Culberson. Here’s his Qik account. Here’s his Twitter account. Culberson said he was amazed by the technology and almost agreed to do the first Qik interview from the Oval Office, but that the Secret Service jumped in and said that that was a no-no. His Twitter message from the Oval Office is the first from the White House that Culberson knows about.

2. The press room at the Senate was fairly old school. Laptops and cell phones are not allowed into Senate chambers. Culberson, in his interview with us, told us that he was going to break rules and bring his cell phone into some congressional hearings and film them so his constituency can see what goes on.

3. Culberson had not yet seen FriendFeed, but said that he’d been shown Summize (live Twitter search engine)┬áby Erica O’Grady. He promised me he’d try FriendFeed.

At one point I looked at my son, Patrick, who is helping me out on this trip, and wondered just how much the world would change in his lifetime?

Tomorrow more questions and answers as we do even more interviews.

Visit NYC & Washington D.C. with us

Tonight my 14-year-old son, Rocky (my producer), and I leave SFO to start what is bound to be one of the most interesting weeks in our lives. One thing we’re going to try to do is bring you along whenever possible. Before I get to that, though, I can’t say thank you enough to Andrew Feinberg of Capitol Valley.net and Washington Internet Daily enough for getting us into see some really interesting people. He, and his team, have been doing all sorts of work with us for months to make this trip happen and he’s been doing it for free without any expectation of anything in return. Unbelieveable guy and team and all of us at FastCompany greatly appreciate his partnership.

Here’s where to follow me:

1. On my Qik channel. I’ll do frequent live Qik videos. I’ll try to Twitter when interesting ones are about to start.
2. On my Twitter feed. I frequently Twitter from the road about what we’re doing and experiencing, plus I can answer your questions there.
3. On my FriendFeed. Even better place to talk with me. My Twitters, photos, and other things, show up on FriendFeed within minutes of me doing them and this is the best place to talk with me. I probably spend 80% of my time there, so watch this to see the best stuff.
4. Another important feed to watch is my “Likes” feed on FriendFeed. This is totally different than #3 and is YOUR stuff that I’ve “Liked.” If you want to see if there’s some value to FriendFeed this is a good place to lurk and it’s where I track the top news items.
5. On my Flickr feed I’ll post photos. My Nokia phones can get photos up within seconds of me taking them.
6. I’ll be participating in the chat room on my Kyte.tv channel — the chat room there is better because it stays up permanently and I can participate in it via text, audio, or video.
7. Rocky Barbanica, my producer, has a Twitter feed too, and so does Andrew Feinberg.

I probably won’t write many blogs here until I get back. We’re just way too busy. Check out our schedule.

TODAY: A BBQ with my dad and brother and our family. We take the red-eye to New York tonight at about 10 p.m.
SUNDAY: A free day in NYC. The Personal Democracy Forum is throwing a dinner in the evening, which we’ll attend.
MONDAY: We’re attending the Personal Democracy Forum and I’m on a panel where we’ll be talking about the Live Web (of which you are getting a great demo of above). The panel is at 2 p.m. Eastern Time. I’m sure we’ll Twitter and Qik and Kyte that a bit. After the panel we’ll take the train to Washington DC.
TUESDAY: Most of these interviews will be 15 minutes and we’ll be literally running from one interview to the next. I am not sure which ones I’ll be able to Qik, but we’ll try to Qik at least some of them:

WEDNESDAY:

THURSDAY:

  • Still being planned out. Possible tour of White House. Also will probably play tourist and see the Newseum and other museums. Jim Long, NBC Camera person at the White house, and famous Twitterer, is working on something, but hasn’t been firmed up yet.

Whew!

Anyway, please come along and we’ll try to get you to participate. If you have any specific questions for any of these people, please leave them here and we’ll read them during our interviews.

A Silicon Valley-Washington DC conversation

Several months ago Andrew Feinberg, founder of the Capitol Valley.net blog, laid down a challenge to me and other tech bloggers: why don’t we ever come to Washington D.C. to get the politicians’ view of the tech industry?

After all, politicians have huge control over our industry.

They can decide things concerning network neutrality, taxation, whether universities get funded so that our industry will have a constant stream of new potential new employees, immigration (one tech-industry CEO recently told me his company is losing its best R&D talent which we educated here, but then are forced to go back home due to immigration laws), wireless bandwidth allocation, and much much more.

These are issues that the “shiny new thing chasers” like me don’t often talk about cause, well, they require doing homework and building partnerships and, well, going to Washington DC. Most of the geeks I hang out with don’t like hanging out with politicians. They would rather watch an hour-long-PowerPoint presentation on some boring enterprise-focused technology than hang out with politicians.

But I saw value in Andrew’s plea. He was right that we need a new conversation about technology and politics, particularly because there will be a regime change in Washington DC in January (even McCain would bring a different approach to the tech industry than Bush had).

So, next week me and the crew from FastCompany.tv is headed to New York for a day to attend the Personal Democracy Forum. Andrew will do some interviews there with me and I’ll be on a panel discussion.

Then on Tuesday we’re headed to Washington DC. Right now we’re tentatively speaking to four congressmen/women including Nancy Pelosi, speaker of the house.

My agenda for the week?

1. Learn about pending or upcoming legislation that will affect the technology industry.
2. Start a dialog between tech journalists and politician’s staffs, so we will have better understanding of what they are thinking and will have a chance to get our audiences feedback on potential legislation.
3. Hear how the regime change (er, Presidential election) will affect what they are thinking and what executives at technology companies should be aware of going into 2009.
4. Listen and bring you into conversations. I hope to do some Qik videos while there, and have some discussions on Twitter and FriendFeed.

Andrew also has us scheduled to interview a few key members of the FCC and we’re still working on our schedules to fit in some other fun stuff.

Plus, on Wednesday night we’re hosting a party which is open to all — wow, 122 are already signed up on the Facebook page for the party. We’re hosting Gary Vaynerchuk, the web superstar behind Wine Library TV and owner of one of the biggest wine stores in the world, along with a few other surprises.

Anyway, I really want to thank Andrew Feinberg. He did all the heavy lifting on this week and it should be an amazing week. He has my deepest respect and can’t wait to see what conversations start.

We’ll publish our calendars as we get them firmed up. Unfortunately in the world of politics even the best planned out calendar can instantly change due to world events, so we probably won’t know for sure we’ll get interviews with specific people until it happens.

Anyway, anything you’d like us to look into while we’re there? Leave suggestions on the comments here.