From The Big MONEY:
Late last week, the Public Broadcasting Service took a break from tickling Elmo and tried to get funky with the Interwebs and this whole YouTube thing. PBS anchor Ray Suarez hosted "America Speaks to BP," an hour-long conversation with Bob Dudley, the gentleman ("President and CEO," to be precise) heading up the company's "Gulf Coast Restoration Organization." Dudley was on hand to answer or dodge any question the world's Netizens had about the ongoing catastrophe down N'walins way, and Suarez was there to moderate the conversation. We're not sure if it was a singular moment of corporate accountability, a perfect opportunity for an oil company to spread its spin far and wide, or just another ham-fisted attempt to figure out how to make the Internet work for the media instead of disrupting it.
The gimmick: the Web's interlocutors submitted their questions in text or video form, via Google (GOOG) and YouTube. You can watch the whole thing here. And for the record, it wasn't quite the awkward fiasco that was CNN's YouTube primary debates in 2008; in fact, there were more than a few tough questions. Still, it was hard to escape the suspicion that this was a lot of bells and whistles under the guise of Internet-enabled participatory democracy.
Nevertheless, the following moment was truly priceless. After a barrage of serious questions, Suarez showed Dudley this viral YouTube clip of BP execs haplessly scrambling to cope with the consequences of spilled coffee:...
...And Dudley—who claimed he hadn't seen the clip, despite the fact that 8 million people have watched it so far—got a chance to put on his sad face. Behold the glory of corporate spin in action, courtesy of everyone's favorite online video platform.
YouTube. It's the greatest vehicle for democracy we've ever seen. Or it's just another way to spread bullshit all over the field. Or it's both.