03/23/2007 04:24 pm ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Activism, Anonymity, and the Brave New World of YouTube Politics

Over the last two days I've been asked what prompted us to issue a challenge to the HuffPost team to see if we could find out who was behind the "Hillary 1984" video.

Here's the answer: We saw how the story was being spun in certain circles -- including the San Francisco Chronicle quoting a Democratic operative laying it at the feet of rightwing SwiftBoaters and Dan Riehl claiming it was me -- and decided to try to find the creators and give them a platform to explain why they had done it, and why they felt Obama was a revolutionary candidate.

If you want an example of a perverse spin on this story, look no further than Jake Tapper's ABC report in which he stated as fact that the Obama campaign was "rocked" by the news that Phil de Vellis was the creator of the video (it wasn't), and that Phil had "boasted" about making the ad (he hadn't). He also spins Phil's assertion that the Obama campaign was unaware of his efforts as a mere "claim."

The Huffington Post has always been conceived as a place where newsmakers, both well-known and previously unknown, can have a forum to express their unfiltered opinions, directly and without a reporter's interpretation -- whether it's Jean Rohe blogging on HuffPost about why she chose to take on John McCain in her commencement speech, Denis Collins writing about his experiences on the Libby jury, or Jack Murtha following up his dramatic initial call for troop withdrawal with a more intimate blog.

As for those who believe anonymity should be sacred, it's clearly impossible to expect that you can make a powerful political ad, post it on YouTube, send it out to political bloggers -- including HuffPost -- generate millions of hits and draw widespread attention (including from Obama and Hillary Clinton), and expect no one will care who you are.

People did care. And the way we broke the story highlighted the important philosophical debate going on within the Democratic Party, as well as the way that citizen activists are increasingly able to affect the political process.