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The Medium is the Message, or: Why I Can’t Even With Another Dave Brat Facebook Live Alt-Town Hall


By Anne-Marie Leake


For all of you keeping up with The Saga in the Seventh District (and who isn’t at this point – did you catch the shoutout at the Grammys from A Tribe Called Quest to “all those people who are pushing people who are in power to represent them”?), Mr. Accessible, the Seminary-Educated Economist, is graciously carving another 30 minutes out of his busy schedule of talk radio junkets and cross-country cronyism to treat his constituents to another of his trademarked exercises in futility, the Facebook Live Town Hall.

Yep, you heard me right.  He must have gotten some kind of adrenaline rush from bobbing and weaving (Brattercizing?) his way through over 7,000 questions in 30 minutes on January 31, because he’s doing it again this afternoon, February 14.  At 4:30 p.m.  On a weekday.  When many people are at work.  With only 24 hours notice.  Perhaps that’s his diabolical scheme to root out the paid protesters, you know, the jobless radical liberals  .  .  .  because we – I mean THEY” – are the only ones who won’t be at work!

While it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out what Brat gains from this format – and what his constituents lose – I will cite a professor with a PhD in marketing.  Jon Callegher of George Brown College in Chicago addresses the use of Facebook by politicians in lieu of live interaction with constituents in his article, “Applying McLuhan’s Tetrad of Media Effects to Facebook.” In it he states,

“It is an effective strategy that allows candidates to deliver their message without the immediate follow-up questions .  .  .  It also allows for tight scripting and editing, so the message should be exactly what they hope to get across compared to the uncertainty of a live announcement.”

That would certainly explain some of the bad acting witnessed during the January 31 event.

A few of Brat’s colleagues across the country have taken one for the team as the canaries in the coal mine, facing their constituents IRL.  Most notably, last week Representative Jason Chaffetz of Utah withstood over an hour of heated questioning by an unhappy audience of over 1,000.  It wasn’t pretty.  Is Brat scared?  Is he deliberately trying to goad his constituents into a fever pitch?  Is he just padding his “Town Hall” numbers?  Or is it a more nefarious distraction?  In a post-truth world of alternative facts and a huckster in the Oval Office, I’ve imagined a tinfoil hat scenario where Brat lures his detractors online at the same time that registration is activated for a ticketed in-person Town Hall for which his conservative base has advance notice.  Bada bing, bada boom, he wraps up the Facebook event by announcing the in-person Town Hall, and two minutes later:  boohoo, Snowflakes, no tickets left.

Farfetched?  Perhaps.  But we’ve seen far stranger things unfold before our very eyes over the last several weeks.  Every.  Damn.  Day.



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Anne-Marie is a marketing and communications professional who serves as Communications Director for 4VABlue, strategists for Democratic campaigns in the Commonwealth of Virginia.