- The Washington Times - Friday, March 20, 2009

They may not control either chamber of Congress or the White House, but Republicans appear to be doing something right when it comes to YouTube.

Eight out of the top 10 congressional channels on the online video hub belong to members of the Republican Party and have surpassed Democrats in overall video views, according to TubeMogul Inc., an Emeryville, Calif.-based tracking firm.

House Minority Leader John A. Boehner - whose floor speech against the stimulus bill is the third-most-popular congressional video with 467,454 views - has encouraged Republicans to think of themselves as “entrepreneurial insurgents” reaching out to the American people.

“Given that we are in the minority in the House, we need to think of ourselves not primarily as legislators, but as communicators, and we need to use every tool available to communicate our better solutions to the problems facing our nation,” said Michael Steel, a spokesman for Mr. Boehner.

TubeMogul analyst David Burch credited Republican dominance to “stimulus outrage” videos like Mr. Boehner’s, in which he dropped the 1,000-plus pages of the bill on the floor.

“It looks like they’re just more adept at playing the news cycle,” Mr. Burch said.

Overall, Republicans surpassed Democrats with about 4.9 million video views compared with nearly 4.3 million as of Tuesday . Despite having fewer overall videos, Republicans also ruled in terms of average views per video with 1,572.85, compared with 750.03 for Democrats.

But with more than 3 million views, the most popular channel is that of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, California Democrat, whose introductory video featuring two cats roaming the U.S. Capitol is her most-watched at 332,678. She also has the most videos at more than 1,600.

“The speaker’s YouTube channel is a window into what’s happening in Congress, from the floor to the hearing rooms - updated nearly daily to show constituents what Congress is working on,” said spokesman Drew Hammill, who pointed out that Mrs. Pelosi has been on the video-sharing site since May 2006, making her the first member of Congress to join.

The most popular congressional video - and the second-place channel - comes from a perhaps unlikely candidate: Rep. Don Young of Alaska.

Mr. Young, the target of an federal ethics probe, narrowly survived a primary challenge last fall. But a five-minute floor speech he gave in favor of drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge has garnered nearly 1 million views.

“We didn’t expect it but we’re very happy,” said Meredith Kenny, a spokeswoman for Mr. Young. “I guess this one really struck a chord with people - it just started getting forwarded and forwarded and next thing I knew I was getting it back from a friend in Kansas.”

Behind Mr. Young is Rep. Donald Manzullo, Illinois Republican, in third place with 858,658 views. His heated questioning of Interim Assistant Treasury Secretary Neel Kashkari over American International Group Inc. bonuses is the second-most-popular video, earning 817,365 views.

Aside from Mrs. Pelosi’s “Capitol Cat Cam,” speeches and television appearances make up most congressional YouTube videos. But some lawmakers have made an effort to be different.

In addition to providing standard congressional fare, Rep. Tim Ryan, Ohio Democrat, has used his channel, dubbed “TimRyanVision,” to communicate with constituents in a casual, often humorous way. For example, in one clip of him test-driving a GM Equinox, he first pretended to burn himself on a fuel cell, later calling the car a “total chick magnet.”

President Obama’s White House channel on YouTube - with 4,412,410 views as of Thursday evening - dwarfs the hits received by most members of Congress individually. But altogether, cumulative views for lawmakers edge out the executive branch with 9,294,865.

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