Crowd Pleasers v. Policy Heft

It's "frustrating" that serious policy videos the Obama administration pushes on the White House website and blog garner nowhere near as much public attention as crowd-pleasing videos ready-made for Youtube, White House New Media Director Macon Phillips told a think tank audience Tuesday.

A recent White House video of a baby seeming to miraculously stop crying as the president picked it up, for instance, went viral within hours while White House whiteboard sessions -- policy primers by administration officials -- get page views that rarely top the tens of thousands, he said.

"We haven't solved this problem," Phillips told audience members at a Brookings Institution panel discussion on social media and civic engagement. "But if there's a way to connect the two, that's a very powerful opportunity, not only to get stuff out there that people want to see, but also to help them understand policy positions."

Moderator Darrell West, director of Brookings' Center for Technology Innovation, suggested the president give an address on health care while quieting a crying baby.

"I've thought about him giving a policy speech while petting Bo [the Obama family's Portuguese water dog]," Phillips countered. "But I don't think that's going to work."