First and foremost, it’s no longer a “sound bite”. Thanks to the internet, can we just call it a “sound byte”. That’s what it has become.
Now, onto the topic. It wasn’t this bad in 2008. It barely existed in 2004. I don’t even remember the 2000 campaign season.
This year, every little itty bitty sound byte is a potential for victory or disaster. We’ve seen what statements such as “they brought me binders full of women” and “you didn’t build that” have done to shape the direction of the campaigns. In a world where more time is spent on YouTube or Facebook than the news sites, what you say and how you say it is of the utmost importance.
Below is the portion of the 2nd presidential debate that has memes popping out of it, people talking and blogging about it, and social networks exploding over it. It’s clear that the statement regarding “binders full of women” was not meant as anything degrading, but that’s the way the phrase is being spun by the internet. The Obama campaign doesn’t have to do anything. They can just sit back and watch as this non-gaffe is blown up into a major gaffe. It isn’t that what he said was necessarily harmful. It’s the reaction of the web and social media in particular that hurts.
If you don’t think this is having an effect on undecided voters, you don’t understand the psychology of repetition and reinforcement. The statement is not as important as the reaction and the reaction has been bad, therefore the statement was bad (even though technically it wasn’t). Does that make sense?