Eliot Spitzer’s Advice to Democrats
Eliot Spitzer is a former Governor of New York State. He served as New York State Attorney General from 1998 until 2006 and as the 54th Governor of New York from January 2007 until his resignation on March 17, 2008. He is currently a Slate magazine columnist and professor of political science at City College of New York.
Question: How do you assess President Obama’s effectiveness in handling the financial crisis?\r\n
Eliot Spitzer: I went through a first year in office as Governor where you come in with tremendous expectations and you try very hard to define a reform agenda and a year later you wake up and you say, wait a minute, not everything had worked. It’s difficult. The effort to reform any system, any structure is fraught with the risk that the forces of the status quo will array against you, whether it is hospitals, whether it is the unions that work in the hospitals, whether it is the teaching establishment. So, it doesn’t mean they’re bad, good, indifferent, or invidious. It just means that those who were benefiting from the current system don’t want things to change. The President has encountered that. Has he pushed aggressively enough for reform in every instance? No, I don’t think so. The financial services I’ve been critical of where he has ended up until very recently with Paul Volcker’s ascension on the issues of restructuring the banks, which I think is important.\r\n
On other issues, I think he has been spectacular. I think the tone that he has set, the fact of a President who is thoughtful, who is smart, who is inquisitive, who tries to address issues, whether it be global warming or our relations with foreign nations at the level of intellectual accuracy and thoughtfulness is wonderful to see. But these issues are sometimes intractable. I mean, you look at the roadblocks to progress in the Middle East. He’s tried; he has appointed superb people. Does it mean you can get parties that have irreconcilable differences to sit down and agree?\r\n
So I think he is a wonderful public servant, he will go down, I’m persuaded, as a great President. The recent political bumps with the election of Republican Senator from Massachusetts are part of the both maturation process and process of learning how to use the levers of power that will make him stronger in the years ahead.\r\n
Question: What advice would you give the Democratic Party as midterm elections approach?\r\n
Eliot Spitzer: Well, look. I hesitate to say I’m giving advice. I just, you know – but here’s what I’ve said and what I’ve written for Slate and elsewhere. There is a choice that the White House has to make at this point. Do they go the path of instrumentalism? Do they choose to try to be incremental in their efforts and thereby reach accommodations with Republican Party in a spirit of bipartisanship? Or, alternatively, do they do what I would encourage which is to say, “Wait a minute. We have a progressive agenda, that agenda of reform in financial services, in healthcare and education is correct. We still have 59 votes in the United States Senate; we still have a very significant majority in the House of Representatives. We will do everything we can to enact a meaningful fundamental reform agenda because that’s what this nation needs.” Let’s not kid ourselves. We are in a very treacherous point in terms of our economy, in terms of our competitive position, visa vie the world, in terms of the social contract that has been crumbling in our nation. So if we don’t take those fundamental steps, we’ll be in trouble. So, I would encourage them to be aggressive. Do that which his perhaps riskier, which is to push the progressive agenda at this very moment, and if it leads in November consequently to a choice to be made by the electorate, that’s good. Let the public see a choice between a Democratic Party that believes in progressive values and a Republican Party that is standing in opposition, and we will see which way we go.\r\n
I think the mistake they have made, and this has been a mistake of tone and a mistake of communication, has been to let the Republican Party over the last number of months appear to be the party of populist anger. And it is absolutely mind-boggling that Sarah Palin and Scott Brown have been the beneficiaries of populist anger, rather than Barack Obama and Democratic Senators. So, I think that is a communication problem that we need to think about and overcome.
Recorded January 21, 2010
Interviewed by Austin Allen
In the wake of Martha Coakley’s stunning defeat in Massachusetts, the ex-Governor offers some words of wisdom to Obama and his party.
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What does sports fandom look like in the new normal?
- With the masses huddled at home and glued to our screens, the last several months of frozen competition provided an opportunity for sports franchises to experiment with creative modes of fan engagement, often involving multiple media channels.
- On another level, this is a challenge that wasn't prompted by COVID-19 and won't go away when COVID-19 does.
- Franchise marketers are accelerating their digital transformation processes, finding innovative ways to connect with fans online, with VR, community building and repackaging classic content.
Head back to the stadium – virtually<p>After months of deprivation, fans are panting to see their favorite teams. For the moment, they are so eager to return to live sports that they are ecstatic over any live game broadcast. On July 5, some 5.7 million people tuned in to the Southampton v. Manchester City match, making it the Premier League's most-watched match ever. </p><p>But as time goes by, the shine of live sports will wear off. An empty stadium is disappointing both for viewers at home and for players. The NFL's "virtual draft" event in April drew a larger audience (15.6 million) than Monday Night Football did last weekend (14 million), even though the former was little more than a televised Zoom call while the latter was a marquee matchup between two of the hottest teams in the league, the Chiefs and the Ravens.</p><p>The time has come for the sports industry to find creative ways to harness technology for the next generation of fan engagement. What can we learn about the future based on what worked best during the pandemic?</p>
Breathe new life into regurgitated content<p>Filling up gaps in the programming schedule with reruns of classic games worked well at first, but returns are diminishing. Success requires networks to put more work into their content choices.</p><p>Tommy Stimson, managing director at Qualitative Insights, <a href="https://marumatchbox.com/4-actions-fan-engagement-sports-covid-19/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">points out</a> that fans aren't very interested in games from the last 10-12 years. Footage from these games is already widely available online, plus "The known outcome and familiarity with the content makes the reruns less-than-satisfying." Instead, Stimson recommends showing iconic, historical sports moments that most of today's fans haven't seen or experienced. </p><p>Fans appreciate reruns far more when the footage is interspersed with new analysis and commentary, either from current players or from the athletes who were playing at the time. One of the darlings of Netflix's pandemic-era programming lineup, Michael Jordan's <em>The Last Dance </em>documentary, which followed the 1997-98 Chicago Bulls on their title run, drew an average of 5.6 million viewers for each of its ten episodes.</p><p>Many teams hosted social media-integrated "watch parties," where former players shared their personal memories and fielded questions from fans while streaming classic games, and fans were delighted with the multi-screen experience, which dovetailed perfectly with game rerun telecasts. <a href="https://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/survey-sports-with-empty-stadiums-means-millions-of-americans-will-be-engaging-from-home-301094037.html" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">One poll</a> found that 76 percent of U.S. fans want more watch party-style viewing options moving forward.</p>
Screenshot of New England Patriots re-watch party ad
Credit: Facebook<p>Networks would also do well to tap into the <a href="https://bigthink.com/culture-religion/money-sports-success" target="_self">deeper reasons</a> why people follow sports, by sharing narratives about how teams come together as a unit, or times when players overcame adversity. Viewers are eager for behind-the-scenes content that reveals how players stay in shape, how managers set strategies, or the motivating factors behind decisions to trade, draft, and otherwise acquire talent.</p><p>As brands collect more viewer data, they can also deliver more personalized content experiences that engage fans more deeply. </p>
Invite fans to vote for in-game elements<p>Giving fans ways to have a real effect on in-game elements is another winner for the sports industry. Juventus has long been a trail-blazer for digital transformation, so it's no big surprise to see the storied soccer franchise leading the way again.</p><p><span></span>Juventus <a href="https://www.socios.com/new-goal-celebration-song-for-juventus-is-revealed/" target="_blank">invited fans to vote</a> for its new in-stadium goal celebration song using Socios, a token-based voting and rewards platform, to ensure that the results wouldn't be sabotaged by rival fans or manipulated by hackers.</p>
Credit: Twitter<p>Fans overwhelmingly chose Blur's "Song 2," and were rewarded by <a href="https://www.dailymail.co.uk/sport/football/article-7868543/Juventus-fans-chose-iconic-Blur-track-goal-anthem-pioneering-blockchain-vote.html" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">hearing the song four times</a> in the first back-to-business game between Juventus and Cagliari. </p> <p>Socios has been doing some interesting work in the digital fan engagement realm beyond the Juventus example. Its parent company, Chiliz, partners with teams to issue blockchain-based, franchise-branded coins. Apollon Limassol FC decided to put on a head-to-head skills challenge between players, with <a href="https://medium.com/chiliz/apollon-fc-apl-fan-token-sells-out-in-6-minutes-generating-100k-f3bc6a98e75d" target="_blank">fans using tokens to vote</a> on the matchups. In esports, itself a social distancing-friendly concept, fans of Spanish team Heretics were able to vote on which players would go head to head in Fortnite death-matches.</p>
Encourage fans to connect together at home<p>Part of the beauty of sports is that it forges relationships. Season ticket holders connect with neighboring seatmates in the stadium; families bond over a shared love for their teams; friends come together to watch the big match and analyze it ceaselessly during and after the game.</p> <p>It's difficult to translate this to a situation where even private socializing is frowned upon, but it's not impossible. </p> <p>To build hype as the NFL season neared, Pepsi <a href="https://www.marketingdive.com/news/pepsi-delivers-tailgate-in-a-box-to-football-fans-hankering-for-game-day/584016/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">tapped into this demand</a> with a "Tailgate-in-a-box" kit that includes an outdoor projector and a range of Pepsi products. The kit is valued at $5,000 and was delivered to sweepstake winners, so it's unclear how this will translate into the general market, but the opportunity is clear. Pepsi is also experimenting with a "tailgate tour" that brings live music and outdoor games to fans viewing from home. </p> <p>The <a href="https://www.sportbusiness.com/2020/09/nba-leverages-microsoft-partnership-to-revolutionize-virtual-fan-experience/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">NBA led the way recently</a> by offering 320 fans the opportunity to "attend" games in the Orlando bubble. At-home viewers logged in through Microsoft Teams, and their streamed likenesses were beamed onto 17-foot video boards set up around the courts. The tech made it look like viewers were sitting next to each other, plus participants could interact with each other and see and hear their reactions in real time. The NBA has other plans to allow fans to chat during games, display a real-time statistical overlay, and introduce gaming elements as well. </p>
Credit: Instagram<p>Technological advances, including <a href="https://bigthink.com/what-would-it-take-to-create-a-fully-immersive-virtual-reality" target="_self">virtual reality</a> (VR) and augmented reality (AR), offer teams new ways to offer virtual fan experiences.</p> <p>Another option that could become very popular is <a href="https://losangeles.cbslocal.com/2020/05/27/virtual-reality-sports-fans-broadcasts/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">audio AR</a>. Powerful recording equipment picks up the minutiae of sounds that make up the audio backdrop of in-stadium viewing, and then broadcasts it to at-home viewers. AR allows the noise to grow louder or fainter as viewers "move" closer to or further away from the action. Brands can even add crowd sounds, like gasps at a near miss or the shouts of vendors, to enhance the experience. </p> <p>In Japan, an app called Remote Cheerer allowed fans to capture their real-time reactions to on-field action and actually play triggered sounds in the stadium, instead of the canned crowd noise we've hearing in our MLB, NFL and NHL telecasts. This type of solution keeps fans at home more engaged and makes even the passive TV watching experience more authentic.</p>