The Highs and Lows of ABC's 'Twitterview' with McCain

Republican senator and former presidential candidate John McCain made what some politicos are calling Web history Tuesday by conducting an online interview via Twitter with ABC talk show host George Stephanopoulos.

The brief “Twitterview” included about 10 questions for the 72-year-old McCain, who provided clipped answers tailored to the micro-blogging service’s 140-character limit. You can read a transcript of the interview at Stephanopoulos’ blog.

The interview lasted about 15 minutes and briefly touched on some meaty topics, including the AIG bailout, Pakistan, and Iran. The format had its pros and cons. On the plus side, Twitter’s character limit forced McCain to get to the point. In a conventional interview, politicians tend to ramble for a minute or so before addressing a reporter’s question. But with mere 140 characters to state your position, there’s no time for fancy talk. Example:

GStephanopoulos@SenJohnMcCain AIG: Would a President McCain break bonus contracts? Obama teams says that would cause more harm than good

SenJohnMcCain@GStephanopoulos i would have never bailed out AIG, the real scandal is billions to foreign banks.

Then again, the Twitterview did lack the depth you’d find in a traditional print or broadcast interview. The 140-character limit accomplished one of two things, depending on the question: 1) It made it difficult for McCain to expand on his points; 2) It allowed McCain to prove brief, superficial answers without offering greater detail.

GStephanopoulos@SenJohnMcCain What worries you more: Pakistan or Iran?

SenJohnMcCain@GStephanopoulos both. the challenges are different but both significant.

Will Twitterviews become commonplace in American journalism? They’ll play a role, perhaps, particularly because Web spectators will enjoy watching the ping-pong interaction of a real-time interview.

Who’s next, Joe Biden?

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