Briefing 2.0: the State Department makes a bold move

Assistant Secretary of State Sean McCormack announces Briefing 2.0 on YouTube (and below).

The State Department’s spokesman will take questions from ordinary folks, and incidentally bypass the press corps. Sean says “this should be a lot of fun”, I’m not so sure that’s the word I’d use but “fun” is relative.

I like the idea. While Steve at COMOPS “can think of several not-so-fun questions” can be asked, I like the idea that the quadrennial town hall will move its way into daily interactions with the Government. It can make what seems like foreign affairs (yes, that was a lame pun) not so foreign while fulfilling the mandate of the Bureau of Public Affairs:

The Bureau of Public Affairs carries out the Secretary's mandate to help Americans understand the importance of foreign affairs.

This mandate, by the way, already included answering public questions by phone, email, or letter. Now, also by video message.

There’s room for another evolution, but is there time?

Last week, soon after Briefing 2.0 was launched, I looked and there were only 37 views of the YouTube video and two video responses. The first was about the lack of American Republican support of Scottish, Welsh, English republics. “Why have American presidents been so helpful to British Monarchy but unhelpful to British republicans?” I wonder if that was a question Steve was thinking about.

This evening, the video had been viewed 1,600 times and there were 12 video responses. The deadline is Halloween (31 Oct 2008). Will anybody ask a last minute question in costume?

Seriously though, this is a good step in the right direction to better inform and engage the American public in foreign affairs, including academia and of course bloggers (but of course we are establishing our own exclusive forums away from “traditional” media and the “public” ;).

Update: Does Al Kamen read this blog?