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Democrats to Launch An Online Talk Show

By Brian Faler
Monday, March 7, 2005; Page A04

The Democrats are getting their own talk show -- in cyberspace.

Two Democratic political consultants are preparing to launch a weekly online political talk show that will showcase the party's message, lambaste Republicans and, they hope, open a new front in the ongoing media wars.

It's called DemsTV.com, and each Tuesday, beginning tomorrow, the Web site will feature 20 minutes or so of talking-head chatter from a rotating cast of young Democratic operatives.

"The primary focus is on politics, and, frankly, a heavy focus is on pointing out the foibles and scandals and dirty little secrets of Republicans that we think don't receive as much coverage in the mainstream media as they might," said Dan Manatt, one of the producers.

This week, he said, the program will include opposition research on the GOP's possible 2008 presidential candidates, the panelists' picks for the "blogger of the week" and their predictions of who will be the most important Democratic leaders in the coming years.

The program, which its creators say is the video equivalent of a blog, does not have any formal connection to the Democratic National Committee. But it represents the latest wrinkle in the partisan war for online attention. The Republican National Committee launched its own show online earlier this year, with a series of interviews with GOP politicians called "Off the Record."

Both parties used Web videos during last year's presidential campaign to launch inexpensive, television-commercial-style attacks on the competition. But it remains to be seen how many people will tune in for their longer, program-length offerings. "[We think] we have a formula for an online show that people will watch," Manatt said. "Time will tell if we're right."

Blogs Draw a Blank, Mostly

It's been the year (or so) of the blog, which is funny because most Americans say they are not familiar with the online sites.

That's the conclusion of a new CNN-USA Today-Gallup poll, which found that nearly three-quarters of the public -- 74 percent -- is "not too" or "not at all" familiar with the sites. Blogs (short for "Web logs") are online journals in which amateur, and sometimes, not-so-amateur, pundits discuss whatever is on their minds, from television shows to political candidates. The remainder of those polled were divided between those who said they were either "somewhat familiar" (19 percent) or "very familiar" (7 percent) with blogs.

Three percent of the respondents said they read blogs every day; 12 percent said they visit them at least a few times a month. Forty-eight percent said they never look at the sites, and 24 percent said they do not have access to the Internet.

NRA Gets Credit on Hill

There are scores of interest groups out there, but which, really, gets their way in the halls of Congress?

According to a new poll, it's the National Rifle Association. A National Journal survey of more than 70 members of Congress suggests that the NRA is the "most effective" interest group on Capitol Hill. The organization received nearly twice as many votes -- 25 -- as AARP and the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, which tied for second place. Each received 13 votes.

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the National Federation of Independent Business rounded out the lawmakers' top five. There were some differences between how lawmakers from the two parties responded to the poll. Republicans named the NFIB as the most effective group, followed by the NRA and the Chamber of Commerce. Democrats picked the NRA, followed by AARP and AIPAC.

© 2005 The Washington Post Company