- The Washington Times - Wednesday, April 19, 2006

For all its blessings, there are days when I wonder about the usefulness of technology, such as this morning, when the following crossed the e-mail transom:

AUSTIN, TEXAS and WASHINGTON, D.C., April 19, 2006 — Politicians and liars should consider themselves warned: A new Web site (AmbushTV.us) is literally taking aim at the biggest hypocrites on Capitol Hill and in the mainstream media. Providing citizen journalists with a powerful Web-based platform on which to post videos they get after tracking down and interviewing elected officials, AmbushTV represents the most aggressive effort yet undertaken to provide citizens with cutting-edge tools to hold Congress and other national officials accountable to the people.

To get the ball rolling, AmbushTV is setting a “bounty” in the form of an old West-style “Wanted” poster that features five categories of offenses:

* Immigration Hypocrites - video of members of Congress who “talk tough on immigrants - but hire an illegal immigrant at home for child care, yard care or other work”;

* Impeachment Flip Floppers - “members of Congress voted for Articles of Impeachment against Bill Clinton in 1998 for lying about sex, but defend President Bush today for one or more of the following offenses: authorizing the leak of classified information about an undercover CIA agent, warrantless wiretapping of U.S. citizens, and lying about the grounds for the war in Iraq”;

* Mile-High Corporate Club - “U.S. House and Senate members who use private corporate jets for traveling to campaign events and other purposes … You can do the homework yourself to check out the ownership of any privately registered aircraft that you see a politician boarding” by using a database site provided by AmbushTV;

* Suck-Up Journalists - “if you work in a news organization — or if you view raw satellite feed — and you can capture off-air video or audio of a journalist sucking up to a politician, we want it!”; and

* Hill Hackers - “footage of (sneak smoker and House Majority leader) John Boehner or any other ‘Hill hacker’ that you can get on camera as he or she takes a drag on a coffin nail.”

Explaining the need for the new Web site, AmbushTV Founder Yehudi Mercado, who also is co-founder of Web design firm Horseback Salad, said: “Forget the media. This is all about wedia - people like you and me taking control to draw the attention of elected officials and the public to the real priorities of this nation’s people. AmbushTV was founded by people like you who are committed to fostering representative democracy, justice, fairness and freedom. We are just regular folks. We aren’t corporations and we aren’t fronting for special interests. We don’t even all belong to the same political party.”

Of course, I really, really want to believe that Mr. Mercado is a person “like you and me,” except, well, I thought that lying in a federal court proceeding — the basis for the articles of impeachment against President Clinton — is, well, a crime. Perhaps Mr. Mercado doesn’t, which means, frankly, he isn’t a person “like me,” and perhaps not like you, either. And the smoking thing — I’m not a smoker, I don’t endorse smoking, but I do believe in individual freedom. If an adult wants to use a legal product in a legal manner, it’s their business and not mine. Instead, the “Ambush” approach seems to be a gateway for more “Nanny State” intrusion into legitimate conduct.

As has often been said, the great thing about the Internet is that anyone can be a publisher, of text or video. The terrible thing about the Internet is that anyone can be a publisher. The key, I would submit, involves being responsible — or, in other words, grown up.

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