YouTube is beginning to change politics, as the rising new Internet service is making it easy for anyone to make video available. Short video clips with political messages are chipping away at another Old Media monopoly, the political ad. Back in the old days, as far back as a year ago, you had to have a big budget to produce and air a political ad. Limited time spots for such ads on broadcast and cable TV made them expensive. But like other upstarts like online auctions and blogging, cheap video distribution is rewriting the rules. Industry old-timers are criticizing this new competition; while it is true it is easy to put a false and/or misleading political video on YouTube, that is hardly a new phenomenon. It’s easy to find Old Media examples of wretched excess in political ads dating back a hundred years or more. Politics in the 1800s was a bare knuckles fist fight compared to the relatively sedate mudslinging that goes on today. When the powerbrokers who have the most to lose start shooting the messenger (YouTube and its innumerable imitators), you know there is something to it.

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