Macaca Moments Reconsidered: Electoral Panopticon or Netroots Mobilization?
- ISSN: 19331681
- DOI: 10.1080/19331681003748891
This article addresses popular misconceptions about so-called Macaca momentshigh profile candidate gaffes that are captured on YouTube, receive a cascade of citizen views, and contribute to some substantial political impact. Since the 2006 Virginia Senate race, when Senator George Allen made the original Macaca gaffe and went on to be narrowly defeated by his challenger, the term has become synonymous with the transformative influence of YouTube. This article constructs a case study of that Senate race through the archived blog posts on DailyKos, the largest progressive blogging community in America. It compares this case study with a second high-profile candidate gaffe occurring in the 2008 election seasonMichele Bachmann's verbal misstep on Hardball with Chris Matthews. The central argument of the article is that the impact of these high-profile moments, and of YouTube more generally, must be viewed in the context of the campaigns and organizations attempting to engage in partisan mobilization. YouTube provides additional tools for parties and political organizations, but its influence is often overstated when academics and commentators focus on the technology in the absence of the organizations that use it.