BRIAN LAMB: Andrew Kaczynski, what do you do for a living?
ANDREW KACZYNSKI: I’m a reporter for BuzzFeed politics. I think I’ve been there since probably about January. Before that, I was a student at Ohio University and I really just got involved in reporting because I kind of just started digging up these old clips of politicians and it kind of just turned into a job.
LAMB: Old clips of politicians mean what?
KACZYNSKI: Well, I think people really like to see where politicians’ views have shifted over the years. I think people like to see whether Mitt Romney 1994 was campaigning for welfare reform, against welfare reform, for abortion. They want to see where he was doing it during his 2002 campaign, 2007. I think people really like to see how these politicians have evolved and there’s sort of an element to it that’s almost a gotcha element, but there’s also an element that people are like this is incredibly interesting.
LAMB: What’s BuzzFeed?
KACZYNSKI: BuzzFeed is, I think the best way to describe it is sort of, it’s the viral beating heart of the internet. BuzzFeed is kind of obsessed with viral web posts, viral stats. We put together posts and our number one referrals are usually Twitter, Facebook, StumbleUpon, these sites that are really places that people go on the internet to share things and it’s sort of the first viral news site.
LAMB: Who named it BuzzFeed?
KACZYNSKI: That was Jonah Peretti. He’s our CEO and founder. He originally worked at the Huffington Post which he founded with Arianna Huffington, I think back in 2005. BuzzFeed started for him just as kind of a side project and when he left the Huffington Post, he started working on it fulltime and ever since January, when we hired Ben Smith, formerly with Politico as their editor-in-chief, we’ve been sort of, we’ve been really revamping into more of a news site than just a place people go to share things.
LAMB: Did you graduate from Ohio State?
KACZYNSKI: I went to St. Johns. I went to Ohio University originally.
LAMB: I’m sorry, I thought you said Ohio State. You graduated from St. Johns when?
KACZYNSKI: I didn’t graduate. I’m actually still taking classes online. When Ben hired me, I was still in school and I started working at BuzzFeed and then I started taking on more work and now I’m kind of, I’m doing online classes to finish my degree while at the same time I’m reporting on the campaign.
LAMB: Why did you leave school to do this?
KACZYNSKI: I think there’s importance to it. I think people really like, people like what I do. I think people love these old clips of politicians and I think there’s a lot of times where you break something in the news cycle that people didn’t know. People didn’t know, for instance, I found this clip of Mitt Romney in 2009, or 2010 actually, when he was arguing for an individual mandate. He wrote this op ed to President Obama saying look at what we did in Massachusetts, you should adopt this for the nation as a whole and people didn’t know that.
At the time, that kind of just took over the news cycle. Rick Santorum was using it in the republican primary so a lot of these things really do have a big impact on the race and I think people kind of have this craving for it.
LAMB: We’ve kind of followed you because you’ve gotten a lot of publicity over the last year and I want to run one of the profiles that was done of you with PBS, just a little minute of this and we’ll ask you to extend your comments on this. (VIDEO BEGINS)
KACZYNSKI: The video I found that had the biggest impact in the political debate so far was this video I found in 2002 of Mitt Romney. He said to this crowd, he said I’m a moderate republican, I’m not partisan. My views are progressive.
MITT ROMNEY: I’m someone who is moderate and my views are progressive.
KACZYNSKI: It was right when I woke up, I said I’m going to find a video of Mitt Romney for my YouTube channel today and I found it and I put it up. I got in the shower and by the time I had gotten out, it had 311 views on my YouTube channel. I went to class, I came back, I plopped on my couch to see where it had been. It was on all the news sites. It was everywhere.
Later in that evening, it was up on NBC, CNN, all the channels were running it and it just exploded. Videos are really just, they’re just sitting around, they’re out there. Some of them are on C-SPAN and you would have to trove through hours of footage to find them.
LAMB: Where did you start doing this and when did you start doing this?
KACZYNSKI: I started doing this actually back in the beginning of 2011 or in September really. I live in New York City and I live in the 9th congressional district which was previously represented by Anthony Wiener and there was the special election to replace him. I remember I wanted to find out more about the candidates. It was Bob Turner and David Weprin and I looked up on David Weprin and I found this kind of hilarious video of David Weprin dancing at a music festival in Brooklyn and it was the most awkward clip I’ve ever seen.
I remember I put it on my YouTube channel and sent it to a couple of people I knew and it got like 25,000 views in a couple of days. That was more of a kind of silly clip, but I realized when I started doing that, that you can kind of have this impact on the election just from sitting on your couch.
LAMB: But when did you start getting interested in politics?
KACZYNSKI: I actually originally interned in D.C. back in 2010 and I interned for a couple of congressmen, one from California, one from New York. So I was already interested in politics, but there was a point I think where I realized I didn’t want to be sort of on the side of the politicians. I didn’t want to, I didn’t think it was, I didn’t really enjoy being kind of partisan. I like looking at things from sort of a neutral point of view. So really that’s when I first really decided that I wanted to get involved in journalism.
LAMB: Go back to when you first got interested in politics at all, when you started watching it, you said to me when we walked in, you started watching C-SPAN when you were 11?
KACZYNSKI: Yes, I think when I was probably 8 or 9 years old, my dad’s a news junkie. He watches Fox News, MSNBC, CNN all day. By the time I was 8 years old, I was reading these books by Stephen Ambrose on Nixon and Eisenhower. I was reading books by Bill O’Reilly and Chris Matthews when I was 11.
So I’ve been interested in politics really my whole life. I first got interested in politics again when I was, in 2009, when Chris Christie and Scott Brown had won the elections in new Hampshire, or I’m sorry in new jersey and Massachusetts and I started realizing that politics was becoming interesting to me again and that’s when I interned in D.C. and then everything just kind of came together.
LAMB: What do your parents do?
KACZYNSKI: My dad’s a lawyer. My mom used to be a teacher’s aide but she doesn’t work anymore.
LAMB: And how do you look at the world compared to your dad or your mom, just from a media standpoint also?
KACZYNSKI: Well I think my dad is someone who really just kind of gets his news sort of from cable news. I’m someone who really first started getting my news exclusively from online, from Twitter in around 2011 and I think there’s a difference between young people and old people. Old people, I’d say people over 40 are kind of exclusively getting their news to a certain extent from cable news or from newspapers, but now, I think the conversation has kind of shifted where people are getting their news from places like Twitter or Facebook which is kind of the idea I think behind BuzzFeed as well.
LAMB: And you’re how old?
KACZYNSKI: I’m 22.
LAMB: Lets watch a little more of another profile that New York Magazine did of you?
LAMB: OK. (VIDEO BEGINS)
NEWT GINGRICH: To ask people in the lowest paying jobs to bear the full burden of their health insurance is just irrational, it’s not going to happen. I am very opposed to a single payer system, but I’m actually in favor of a 300 million payer system.
MITT ROMNEY: In politics, it’s pretty much standard operating procedure that when you’re running for office, you look at your opponent’s record, you find someplace where he or she has changed position and you say they’re a flip-flopper and that’s a pretty standard thing. I’ve tried to think why it is that he has changed so often, why he finds it so difficult to come down on one side of an issue, instead sort of floats between both issues and both sides of things.
INTERVIEWER: As someone who is running for state office for the first time, does it help that there’s a governor named Rob Blagojevich if your name is Barack Obama in terms of…
BARACK OBAMA: Rob’s a trailblazer and a hero of mine.
LAMB: I guess it’s obvious you have the president saying that Rob Blagojevich, who is either now or will be in prison soon, is a hero of his.
LAMB: How do you do this? How do you find these things?
KACZYNSKI: Well I think I first sort of got into the video world because I was just kind of troving YouTube. I remember when Rick Perry announced he was running for president, I started looking at all of Perry’s old videos on his old campaign YouTube channels and I remember when I first started looking then, I’m like wow I think this guy is actually going to have some issues. He’s not the most articulate speaker.
There were videos I found that just, I didn’t think would play well to the republican primary as a whole.
LAMB: But where are you looking and how are you looking?
KACZYNSKI: Well I’m looking at YouTube. I’m looking at C-SPAN. With C-SPAN, the great thing about the C-SPAN video archives is you can search people’s transcripts by words, so if I want to find videos of Paul Ryan who got picked as Mitt Romney’s running mate when he was talking about Medicare or talking about Romney’s healthcare plan in Massachusetts, I’ll search Romney or I’ll go back and I’ll watch a C-SPAN program that Paul Ryan was doing in 2010 when he was, when the Obamacare debate was going on and see if they’re talking about it. So sometimes it’s just searching by whether things are said in a specific date range or whether, sometimes it’s just looking for keywords.
LAMB: Well let’s go back to a 1995 clip that you picked and the interesting thing about this is that Paul Ryan wasn’t even in Congress, he was an aide to Sam Brownback.
KACZYNSKI: Yes, he was Sam Brownback’s legislative director.
LAMB: Now where did you find this?
KACZYNSKI: This was actually, this was in the C-SPAN archives as well. I noticed when I searched for Paul Ryan there were, I think there are actually four people named Paul Ryan in the C-SPAN archive. One of them is that Paul Ryan as legislative director and I clicked on it and I was like oh, this is the Paul Ryan who is running for Congress then I realized nobody probably would notice it because it didn’t label him as a congressman.
LAMB: So he is a legislative assistant, let’s watch this.
KACZYNSKI: OK. (VIDEO BEGINS)
PAUL RYAN, U.S. REPRESENTATIVE, WISCONSIN: I would like to go back to what the woman was saying about Medicare, about Medicaid as well. The definition of a cut, only in Washington is a cut an increase in spending. Only in Washington do you call when you’re increasing spending a cut. We are, the house republican plan increases spending on Medicare from $913 billion over the last seven years to $1.6 trillion over the next seven years. That goes up per beneficiary about $2,000.
I’ve heard of these tax increases, the out of pocket expenses that would be increased. I don’t think there’s a basis for that conclusion.
LAMB: That was 17 years ago and I can’t do the math quickly enough to see how old he was at that time, but you’re 22 and you see something like that, where do you think you’ll be in 17 years?
KACZYNSKI: I don’t know, hopefully a journalist. The one thing that really takes me to journalism I think is that you don’t have to play politics in it. Everything about journalism is about truth and it’s about fact whereas with politics, everything is kind of set into this partisan box and they’re kind of playing a game.
LAMB: What did you study at St. Johns? What’s your major?
LAMB: What kind of history?
KACZYNSKI: American, early American, colonial.
LAMB: And why did you study that?
KACZYNSKI: Because I, partially it comes back to my love of old videos. I think the past really relates to the present.
LAMB: Can you remember the first time you ever found video, it doesn’t have to be political video that you got excited about?
KACZYNSKI: I think that probably would have been the 2011 clip I found of David Weprin. I wasn’t really, I didn’t even get the idea to start searching for videos until this special election where I realized I just wanted to find out more about these people.
LAMB: When old people, and I’d put myself in that category compared to you, talk to you about what you do and you tell them what you do, what is their reaction to it?
KACZYNSKI: Some people don’t really understand it. I know my parents, there’s sort of this joke at BuzzFeed where people go home for Thanksgiving or for Christmas, they’re like well who had the toughest time explaining what BuzzFeed is to their family? So I guess I kind of just say that what I’m doing is I do research and then I think that helps people kind of understand it.
LAMB: When I was growing up, I watched the same television my parents watched. Do you watch either, do you watch network news at night?
KACZYNSKI: I don’t watch television at all. I get my news exclusively basically from online. I think I stopped watching television in 2008, 2009. I think I just find the internet a better place to get my news.
LAMB: What about the rest of your colleagues at BuzzFeed? Do any of them watch television?
KACZYNSKI: Yes, I think most of them watch television. At our office obviously we’ve got Fox and we’ve got CNN and we’ve got MSNBC set up, but I don’t really like watching it because ever since 2010 when MSNBC really shifted to be more partisan to the left and Fox is to the right, it’s just, I don’t like the idea of getting my news from a partisan, a site that’s basically being openly partisan.
LAMB: As long as we’re talking about Paul Ryan, you have another clip that we found. This was Vice President Biden praising Paul Ryan. (VIDEO BEGINS)
JOE BIDEN: The Paul Ryan budget, by the way, Paul Ryan is a decent, honorable, smart guy. He genuinely is so I don’t want to hear Democrats talking about he’s a bad guy. He really thinks. He really thinks that the way for America to own the 21st century is the prescription he’s laid out. Every republican in the Congress obviously thinks so as well.
LAMB: Why did you pick that and what did you do with it?
KACZYNSKI: I put that video online because I thought it’s important for people to know that politics, there’s sort of this demonization that comes about of a candidate, whether it’s from the campaign or from Super PACs, people really try to demonize the other side. They try and make the other side into a villain, whether they’re doing it openly or whether it’s kind of behind the scenes.
I think with videos like that, it’s important for people to know that the other side really, they don’t necessarily think these people are bad people, but they just think it’s a different vision for the country.
LAMB: What do you think of politicians?
KACZYNSKI: That’s a tough question. I don’t know, I think it’s tough to tell. Some of them are really politicians in the sense that they’re willing, they’ll shift their views whichever way the wind goes to get elected. You see with someone like Mitt Romney who was, who is kind of almost a market based politician. He changes his views to fit what he thinks is going to win him an election and you have republicans who do that with the individual mandate.
They were supporting it as late as 2010 as a way to counter the public option and now they’re against it. With democrats it’s the same thing with Medicare and with other issues. So I think politicians, a lot of the time, don’t necessarily have these core convictions.
LAMB: I saw you quoted somewhere as saying you were a moderate republican. How close is that to what you feel?
KACZYNSKI: I don’t think my political views really have an impact on how I do my job. I definitely have my own political views and I definitely would say I find myself in the moderate spectrum of politics, but I’m not someone who looks at things I think from a partisan point of view. I’m someone who looks at things whereas I think, because why would you? Why would you want to find, only want to look at things from the left or the right when you’re doing your job as a journalist?
LAMB: What do you find in the BuzzFeed newsroom? We have some video of BuzzFeed up in New York. You’re down in Washington?
KACZYNSKI: I’m in New York.
LAMB: Oh you are in New York, OK. Look on the screen there, you’ll see the BuzzFeed video from the New York offices and it’s, what’s LOL mean?
KACZYNSKI: Laugh out loud.
LAMB: Because you see that on the BuzzFeed site at the top, not only LOL, but a lot of other things, OMG and , something I don’t remember, but what are all these people doing in this room?
KACZYNSKI: Our staff is basically made up of about 50 people in editorial, 50 to 60 and we have about a staff of I think 130. There are a lot of people in sales, advertising. What you wouldn’t believe is actually when, just back in December, BuzzFeed had something like eight people only on editorial. Before we started hiring all these people for the news site, we had eight people in editorial. We had 30 people working on the tech part of the site because it’s so obsessed with stats and the internet.
But now, BuzzFeed has just exploded. They had 60 employees maybe back almost less than a year ago and now we’re up to 120.
LAMB: How many people in that room deal with politics?
KACZYNSKI: I think there’s just about eight. There’s eight of us who are in the politics team. We’re opening up a D.C., we opened up a D.C. bureau and we’re hiring more people for that, so we’re expanding to have people who work on politics in New York and people who are reporting on it in D.C. We have a small team, maybe seven or eight.
LAMB: Going from politics to the extreme, I remember getting on some time ago and one of the first things that hit me on your website was you can see Katy Perry lose her bikini bottom in a wave, in one of those wave pools. How much of that is on BuzzFeed? How much of it do you rely on that kind of thing to draw people into it?
KACZYNSKI: I think there, traffic wise, people who do sort of the funny posts, people have this idea of BuzzFeed where people will kind of insult me and they’re like oh BuzzFeed, you’re just full of laugh out loud cats and pictures of Kate Upton gifs, and I’m like I love laugh out loud cats and I love Kate Upton gifs. I love that stuff so I kind of embrace that stuff. We love it.
LAMB: You also have a cat that you particularly admire of your own.
KACZYNSKI: Yes, I love, I have a cat too.
KACZYNSKI: Ryland, that’s the name of my cat. She is actually in my Twitter profile picture. One of my Twitter friends I guess photoshopped her in from a picture I put up, so I thought it was cute so I put it on my picture.
LAMB: Explain to the old folks Twitter. Somebody that’s never been on it, what’s the draw of Twitter?
KACZYNSKI: I think especially for journalists, the draw of Twitter is you can have this conversation about things that happened in politics and sort of come to a consensus over what just happened whereas back in 2009, you had people who were getting their news just come blogs. My boss, when he worked at Politico, Ben Smith, had his blog and it’s getting 500,000 clicks a day on Election Day in 2008.
Now people, they don’t need to go to blogs to get their news. They can go to Twitter. They can see what’s happening in real-time on Twitter and they can actually participate in the dialogue. We had a post of I think 20 people who kind of, who put their selves into the political conversation just through Twitter and these are people who maybe not aren’t journalists or who might be partisan, people who are partisan or work for committees or, like the RNC or DNC but with Twitter, people can kind of participate in the dialogue in a way that they couldn’t before.
LAMB: So go back to your earlier years, and you were beginning to get interested in politics in a way. What was your life like when you were 11 years old and how, the fact that you even watched C-SPAN at that time, what drew you to that?
KACZYNSKI: I think my parents. They loved politics and I was reading these books on politics from the time I was 8 or 7 and I just got interested in it and I was 11 and I grew up in Cleveland, Ohio. I lived there until I was 18 and went to college. Cleveland is kind of, I think kind of a boring place. It doesn’t compare I think to new York or Washington, D.C. where everything is going on, but yes, I’ve just been interested in politics since then.
In my days, I played hockey as a kid and I played football and all sorts of sports, but my days when I came home, I got my interest from cable news and from what was going on in politics.
LAMB: How many of your same age folks at the time were interested in politics?
KACZYNSKI: I think there’s a subset of kids who are interested in politics. I don’t think, people obviously don’t, kids who are 11 years old don’t know as much about the political debate, but I think there was a small subset of people I was friends with who were also interested in politics.
LAMB: Another young person like you we had on here a couple of months ago, Michelle Fields, who works for The Daily Caller. Here’s a clip from that interview and put her in perspective as either journalist or polemicist. (VIDEO BEGINS)
MICHELLE FIELDS: I feel as though Twitter and Facebook have enabled people who maybe don’t, are not in the media, they don’t have a loud voice, to become one of the loudest voices in media. We see people like Matt Drudge who has no connection to the media, he’s a political outsider and look how far he has come. He took advantage, he saw this potential, this new media which is the internet, internet journalism and his voice is just as loud as the media establishment.
LAMB: Do you know her?
KACZYNSKI: I do, I know Michelle Fields.
LAMB: And what do you think of what she does? She uses a video camera and goes out and, I don’t know about the word confront, but she puts a mic in front of people when they least expect it and do interviews and put it on Daily Caller.
KACZYNSKI: Well, going back to what she said too, I think she basically nailed it. I think with Matt Drudge in ’97, ’98, when he started, it was the same thing that’s what you said with Twitter. Matt Drudge was doing this thing on the internet that was new at the time, that people were kind of not used to. He broke the Monica Lewinsky thing and people today, like she said, can have this voice on Twitter, this really loud voice.
I think with her, she’s doing something that people aren’t doing, sort of like what I’m doing with videos where it’s new and you’re kind of confronting these politicians at times they don’t expect it and you kind of are able to build your own little niche in the political conversation with it.
LAMB: Why should people your age have a say in this business?
KACZYNSKI: I think people my age should be involved in the political debate. These are people who, when you look at the debate, over the Ryan budget, over Obamacare, how it’s going to affect entitlements, these are things that are going to affect us in 50 years when we retire. We’re the people who should be most involved because things like the Ryan budget and Obamacare where they’re taking money from Medicare, these aren’t things that are going to be affecting today’s seniors, these are things that are going to be affecting our generation.
So I think people in our generation should have a voice in politics.
LAMB: Seven years ago, I took a camera to Markos Moulitsas’ house in Oakland, California in 2005, seven years ago and he started Daily Kos and you’ll see him, he’s sitting in his living room, can’t quite tell where you are, but with his computer and that’s everything to him to start a website on the left that’s rather powerful I gather called Daily Kos. Let’s watch a clip of that and put him in perspective for us. (VIDEO BEGINS)
And do you do all of your, you’ve got a laptop sitting here.
MARKOS MOULITSAS: Right.
LAMB: Is that where you do all your work?
MOULITSAS: That’s my office right there.
LAMB: That’s your office. I know there’s, why don’t you hold it up, you may not want all that language on there, but that’s perfectly all right. Fox News, get off the air and that’s an Apple computer.
MOULITSAS: This is an Apple computer, yes.
LAMB: Why did you pick Apple?
MOULITSAS: I don’t like to worry about my technology. I like to focus on the work at hand and I always found with the Macintosh, just the fact that I don’t, it doesn’t crash as much, it’s easier to use. I can actually focus on, I sound like an Apple commercial, I can actually focus on my work instead of focusing on the technology itself.
LAMB: Do you read him?
KACZYNSKI: I do read the Daily Kos. I kind of also have myself built into the BuzzFeed idea that we’re obsessed with stats and I’ll look and I’ll have a video of mine that’s on the Daily Kos and like with Twitter, I think I follow almost 2,000 people on Twitter. I follow everyone who works at the Daily Kos so I interact with these people quite a bit.
LAMB: But people, the old people, you can hear them saying the world’s coming to an end. We’re losing everything we had over the last 50 years and these young people are living in bursts, 140 characters on Twitter, Facebook, this silly stuff that’s on these websites. Again, for those old people that are worried about the future, what do you say to them?
KACZYNSKI: I’d say, I would say it’s no different than maybe 30 years ago, 40 years ago when you had people who were sort of getting their funny news from newspapers, they’re reading the comic section of newspapers and today you kind of have people who can get that enjoyment from the internet. So I just think that people’s interest in silly and fun things hasn’t really changed, it’s just the medium they’re getting it from.
LAMB: There’s a man who is 58 years older than you who was on this show a couple of weeks ago and I want you to listen to a little bit of what he says. He’s in love with the past and thinks we’re going to be in trouble if we lose it, let’s listen. (VIDEO BEGINS)
December of this year, you’ll be 80.
WALTER PINCUS: Christmas Eve, yes.
LAMB: Why are you still writing a couple of times a week for the Washington Post?
WALTER PINCUS: Because I love doing it and I’m doing it for an institution I love and for people I just love working with. I think when I first started out, I belong to a generation that went into reporting to try to change things. I’ve been lucky enough all these years to be free most of the time to write what I want to write and to try to make things better.
LAMB: What’s your reaction to his point of view and he basically admitted in the interview that he’s a liberal, that he’s been active, that he’s involved at the Post and he’s writing news stories. How do we define journalism then?
KACZYNSKI: I think what he’s doing isn’t necessarily different than what people are doing today. I mean, or people with the internet, I think he’s just doing it through an older medium. I think he’s doing it through something like the Washington Post which is a newspaper that’s been around forever and he’s kind of using, he’s using it to his advantage the same way young people today should really be using blogs and Twitter to their advantage to engage in the conversation.
LAMB: But he would say to you that he had an editor and that was important in the process, but Twitter doesn’t have an editor and the blogs don’t have editors.
KACZYNSKI: I have an editor. I think a lot of people who use Twitter don’t necessarily use it for, they use it to get information out there in real-time and I don’t, I wouldn’t say tweets need editing. I think the best tweet is a tweet that comes, about news, its people tweeting what’s happening. People can’t, with me, I’m on the train, I took the train here from new York, I couldn’t watch Paul Ryan live, but I was able to see what he was saying because people were tweeting it.
With blogs, I think we become faster in the press at correcting ourselves because of the internet. Somebody might report something incorrectly, someone on Twitter is going to point out you made a mistake, you can fix that in 10 seconds. With the old media, someone could have reported something wrong in the Washington Post before the internet, they get contacted by who saw that it was incorrect, they have to issue a correction. They may not get it for a couple of days. I think with how fast things have become, we’ve also become very fast at correcting.
LAMB: How important is Jon Stewart or Stephen Colbert in your life?
KACZYNSKI: Well, I’m not someone who watches cable news and I think with our generation now, there are a lot of people who do kind of get their news from Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert, which is good and bad. I think it’s bad in the sense that people might not necessarily get to see the news from the most straightforward way it’s from, but at the same time, they get to see, they at least get to be somewhat involved in the political discussions, so people might not necessarily be getting the entire facts, but at least they’re getting somewhat involved.
LAMB: Here’s Jon Stewart, I want you to see a clip of his and particularly the audience who may not watch him, or they might, and then again explain what he does differently say than the news people. (VIDEO BEGINS)
JON STEWART: I don’t think any image associated with campaign finance is quite as sad as this one. It’s the president of the United States sitting alone with this laptop in a room where perhaps Teddy Roosevelt sat when designating the first national parks or Lincoln sat emancipating the slaves or Taft sat eating an incredibly large bowl of chili, that is obviously historically inaccurate, we all know Taft ate with his hands. He was an animal, no spoon for Taft.
What was our president doing alone with his laptop? Donating to his own presidential campaign.
BARACK OBAMA: I want to make sure that folks know that I’m not just talking the talk, I’m walking the walk. Employer, United States of America and my occupation is president.
STEWART: Birthplace. (makes face…laughter)
LAMB: Jon Stewart, explain him.
KACZYNSKI: I think Jon Stewart is someone who, like Michelle Fields said earlier, built his own niche in putting satire to politics. I know a lot of times I’ll, some of my YouTube videos will be on The Daily Show and I think that’s incredible because it’s kind of a sign for me that I’ve had a real impact when I see sort of my clips on The Daily Show because if they’re on CNN or Fox, they’re going to one audience but when a clip of mine is on Jon Stewart’s show, whether he’s showing it in the full context or not, it’s at least getting out there to a completely different audience.
LAMB: What’s the longest time you’ve ever spent looking for clips?
KACZYNSKI: Jeez, I don’t know. I’d say there were some, there was a clip of Newt Gingrich, I think you actually showed it earlier, of him supporting the individual mandate with Hillary Clinton. I knew when I was getting started out before even working at BuzzFeed, I knew he had supported one and I spent a long time looking for that clip. Not necessarily a long time in terms of days, but maybe a few hours. With me with clips, I kind of just stumble upon them. Like I’ll look for them and say I find them in 15 minutes sometimes, but with that, I really, that was a clip I really went looking for because I knew it was out there somewhere.
LAMB: Well we’ve got some more clips and just to show what kind of thing you do, here’s one from C-SPAN in 1991 at the Press Club. This is Jay Leno. (VIDEO BEGINS)
UNIDENTIFIED PARTICIPANT: When you met with President Bush, did he show you the socks he bought to stimulate the economy?
JAY LENO: No, no I think they’re on tour. I did not see those. So many Americans want to see them. That kind of made me laugh, that whole idea he bought socks for his grandchildren for Christmas. He thinks he’s unpopular now, wait till Christmas morning. Please, because you know, you know, you know Gaddafi and Hussein are giving their kids Gameboy and Nintendo and Bush’s kids get this stupid socks. Socks from your grandfather, what kind of gift is that?
LAMB: How do you decide what you think people will be interested in?
KACZYNSKI: Well for that clip, that clip actually came for a larger post that I did about, I did 25 C-SPAN moments from the 1990’s. I search C-SPAN’s archive in the ’90’s. I searched for Seinfeld. There was one clip I think of former Congressman Cynthia McKinney talking about the defense department asking for $50 million for Viagra. That clip was part of that post.
LAMB: By the way, how does somebody, they want to see your, what was it, 25 or 20 moments from the ’90’s?
KACZYNSKI: I think the title of the post was 25 C-SPAN moments that kind of defined the 1990’s.
LAMB: And where can somebody go to find it?
KACZYNSKI: It’s on BuzzFeed.com.
LAMB: Go to BuzzFeed.com, type in your name?
KACZYNSKI: Type in /Andrew Kaczynski and I think if you scroll down on my unique page, it’s near the bottom, but it’s in there.
LAMB: And a lot of these clips will be on there?
KACZYNSKI: Yes, those will all be in one post. The reason I put that one online was we actually kind of have this obsession with George Bush’s socks at BuzzFeed. I know when we interviewed with I think his granddaughter about, on the Today Show…
LAMB: You’re talking about George Herbert Walker Bush?
KACZYNSKI: Yes, yes, he has amazing socks. He just, they’re purple or they’re rainbow, they’re just, they’re amazing. So I had to put that clip in there.
LAMB: But how do you know decide what gets people’s attention and is there a system for you?
KACZYNSKI: Well, what gets people’s attention is stuff that really impacts the debates. If there’s a clip of Paul Ryan that comes out when he gets picked as Mitt Romney’s running mate talking about RomneyCare or talking about, the clip we showed earlier was him talking about Medicare. He said only in Washington, D.C. is a cut defined as a slowing the growth rate and that’s kind of the same thing that Mitt Romney is attacking Obamacare on because they’re cutting the Medicare growth rate by I think $500 billion and the republicans are saying that’s a cut.
But here you have Paul Ryan in 1995 saying that’s not a cut so clips like that, clips like Paul Ryan talking about RomneyCare or clips like Joe Biden talking about how an individual mandate could be seen as socialism at a forum in 2008. Those are all things that will have an impact because they affect the political debate.
LAMB: Here’s one of your picks where Mitt Romney is talking about the president and his business experience. (VIDEO BEGINS)
MITT ROMNEY: I was speaking with one of these business owners who owns a couple of restaurants in town and he said you know, I’d like to change the constitution. I’m not sure I can do it, he said, but I’d like to have a provision in the constitution that in addition to the age of the president and the citizenship of the president and the birthplace of the president being set by the constitution, I’d like to also to say that the president has to have spent at least three years working at business before he can become President of the United States.
LAMB: Again, talking about the goal, do you think this is going to change somebody’s mind?
KACZYNSKI: No, but I think people on Twitter and I think people in the news will find it interesting. I think people will find it interesting that Mitt Romney said that every president should have three years business experience and then pick somebody who kind of spent his life in government as his running mate. These aren’t, sometimes these aren’t things that necessarily will completely change the debate, but at least for a few hours, people will find them pretty interesting.
LAMB: Then on the other side of the fence, here is President Obama talking about something.
TOM BROKAW: Would you give Congress a date certain to reform Social Security and Medicare within two years after you take office because in a bipartisan way, everyone agrees, that’s a big ticking time bomb that will eat us up, maybe even more than the mortgage crisis?
BARACK OBAMA: Well Tom, we’re going to have to take on entitlements and I think we’ve got to do it quickly. We’re going to have a lot of work to do so I can’t guarantee that we’re going to do it in the next two years, but I’d like to do it my first term as president.
LAMB: Why’d you pick that?
KACZYNSKI: I think it’s important. I think people, when we’re talking about Medicare and entitlements, I think it’s important for people to know that the president basically promised he would take this own in his first term so at the same time you have democrats attacking Paul Ryan for his budget, you see they don’t lack a clear plan of their own for entitlements and you had the President saying in his debate with John McCain that he thought that he’d take it on in his term.
LAMB: There’s a view of young people today by some older people that the young people don’t read, don’t read books, don’t read anything very long, that Twitter is 140 characters and what would you say to that and what, do you read anything very long, articles and all that today?
KACZYNSKI: I think, I do get most of my news through Twitter, but I do also, I read books. I think the last book I read was Too Big to Fail on the financial crisis. After I saw the movie, I thought it was incredibly interesting. I think, I read this book The Real Romney about Mitt Romney by these Boston Globe reporters and I think there’s a lot of times there are things you can only get through books. You’re not going to see them online because these journalists who cover campaigns where things like that will save their best nuggets of information for these books.
I can certainly understand why someone would think that people our age, my age at least are only getting their news or their information through things that are two sentences long.
LAMB: How long were you at Ohio State, I mean Ohio University?
KACZYNSKI: I was there for two years and then I left and I interned in D.C.
LAMB: Which members?
KACZYNSKI: Well, I interned for the Republican National Committee and after I moved to D.C., I just kind of got more obsessed with politics. I just, I loved it.
LAMB: And how old were you when you were doing that?
KACZYNSKI: I was 20 when I first started interning.
LAMB: And then, how long have you been in St. Johns?
KACZYNSKI: Since, almost a year.
LAMB: And you say you’re doing online studying, how many hours do you have to go before you get a degree? Is the degree important to you?
KACZYNSKI: A degree is definitely important to me. I wouldn’t know particularly how many hours I’ve spent because sometimes you’re taking one class and sometimes you’re taking two, depending on what part of the election it is, what term it is, but I’d say it’s definitely important to me.
LAMB: When will you graduate?
KACZYNSKI: I think 2013.
LAMB: So what is it like, people think, not people, but some people talk about the, no more need for a college education or you can do this online. How do you relate online education with having a professor in front of you?
KACZYNSKI: I think it’s different. I think it’s your, there’s more of an idea of individualism or there’s more responsibility on yourself. You’re not going to class, but you have to read, there’s certainly more reading involved. I think with young people today with things though, you don’t necessarily need a college degree. If you have your dream job, I think there’s this kind of myth of a college education for people sometimes where if you’ve got your dream job, you don’t necessarily need to get that college degree.
LAMB: When do you find yourself learning the most?
KACZYNSKI: I guess, I find myself learning the most when I’m reading books. I think when you read books, these aren’t textbooks, these are things that were, like The Real Romney and books like that, these are things that were for people to understand with a better idea about these people or events that happened, I think those are kind of the best information.
LAMB: And where do you, how do you read books? Do you read them online or do you read them on your iPod or whatever or Kindle?
KACZYNSKI: I actually do both. A lot of times, I will buy a book, a hard copy of the book and I will download it to my iPhone. Since I take the subway to work every day, its 35, 40 minute ride on the subway, I’m going, I’m underground, I don’t have a phone signal so I’ll be reading it on my phone while I’m on my way to work.
LAMB: And how about newspapers? Do you spend any time with the physical newspaper?
KACZYNSKI: No. I don’t think I’ll ever read a physical newspaper unless I don’t have an internet connection and it’s all I have.
LAMB: What newspapers do you read on the internet?
KACZYNSKI: I guess if you want to call Politico, they’re in the print version, so I guess you could say it’s a newspaper. I read Politico, the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, I think are all the best.
LAMB: If you were with a bunch of 22 year olds, as you are, in a room, I don’t care whether it’s a bar or partying or just having a big dinner whatever, what would the conversation be like and how many in that room would either be hard copy newspaper readers, television news watchers or what would your conversation be about?
KACZYNSKI: I think there’s a disinterest among people our age about politics and about things like this. I don’t think people our age are necessarily, or my age, are necessarily obsessed with the news the way people who are journalists are. I’m someone who, people I hang out with are journalists, so the conversation is probably going to be about the news or things that are, I think are related to the news or politics. So I don’t really have a good answer for you.
LAMB: So what, how would you define a journalist today? What is journalism?
KACZYNSKI: I think it’s the, it’s kind of a search for truth while at the same time reporting the news.
LAMB: Is it opinionated?
KACZYNSKI: I like to think it’s not. I kind of despise to a certain extent the partisan media even on the left or the right. Many of them are really good people and they’re people who will, are very smart and will sometimes catch on things that other people don’t, but I hate the idea that you’re looking at things from a perspective, when you could be looking at it from, you don’t care as much about truth I feel like when you’re reporting it from one side or the other.
LAMB: But you’re involved in politics and reporting on it, again go back to your group of 22 year olds, I know BuzzFeed, you’d have to say it’s, as you said earlier, it’s not, it’s a small part of what BuzzFeed does, but if you’re in that group, what’s the subject about? What are you talking about?
KACZYNSKI: I think if you’re with everybody at BuzzFeed, you’re talking about politics, but you’re also talking about gifs of cats or cat pictures which I love, by the way. I think at the same time, it’s a conversation that relates to both politics and to the internet.
LAMB: One night I was at a concert and there were three women sitting in front and they had their iPhones and during the whole concert, they were looking at pictures on the iPhone and taking pictures of themselves instead of paying attention to the entertainment. You look around and you see that all the time, that people are just obsessed with these iPhones or whatever kind of device they have. How would you explain that?
KACZYNSKI: I kind of hate it actually. I hate the fact sometimes that you go out to dinner and you look at another table, it’s all young people, and you have like 12 of them on their iPhones when they could be talking to other people. For me, I’m obsessed with the internet for my job, but when I’m going out with people my age, I’m someone who will try to definitely not be looking at my phone because I kind of, I just don’t like it.
LAMB: What do you think the impact of this new communications will be on the country and on politics and on governing?
KACZYNSKI: I think in five or 10 years, you’re going to see a lot of these big newspapers are only going to be online. I think for a lot of them, it might mean smaller staffs, but I think it’s the way that the conversation is going. I think it’s going from print to exclusively online. You look at Huffington Post, they launched an internet news channel where it’s called Huff Post Live and its only, it’s cable news on the internet and I think whether its Apple or its Microsoft who builds that device where you can flip through the channels on your computer, I think when that really catches on, you’re going to see people will flip from Fox News to Huff Post Live or from, to Glenn Beck’s online news site on The Blaze. You’ll see people flipping from that channel to that channel so I think both with TV and with news, its shifting to being online only.
LAMB: So what would you feel bad about if it went out of business? If we lost the Washington Post or NBC Evening News or that kind of thing, or C-SPAN if it went away, would that matter?
KACZYNSKI: I don’t think they’ll go away. I think news organizations have this incredible way of adapting to how things change. It was with going from print to when the internet came around to having their sites online, going to blogs, going to Twitter, I think, I don’t think these places will go out of business. I just think they’ll adapt.
LAMB: Well you’re a history major. What will this do to history? There’s, again, a fear among historians that they’re not taught, history is not taught much in schools anymore and that if you don’t understand history, the future is in trouble, all that stuff. What do you say about that?
KACZYNSKI: I don’t think it necessarily changed history in the sense that people will be getting their, people won’t look back on how the news organizations changed and think that really changed history. I think we look back, we’re starting to finally look back at the Bush administration from a historical perspective and I think in five and 10 years, people will be able to look back on this shift and realize that it was just inevitable. When the internet finally, when this younger generation got older and they were getting their news online and their children were, that it was just inevitable to happen.
LAMB: Your boss, Ben Smith, who is the editor in chief of BuzzFeed talked to us on camera about you a couple of weeks ago. Let’s listen.
BEN SMITH: I mean Andrew is just one of these self-made geniuses from the internet. He and I used to email when he was a kid finding up on YouTube and he’s great at finding things and great at researching. His real, I think talent is he has amazing news judgment. He knows what to look for. He has great instincts for what he might find and where he could find it and then he’s not just casting a random net. He has a kind of great gut understanding of politics and what to look for.
LAMB: Self-made genius.
KACZYNSKI: That was very nice of him to say.
LAMB: Are you, does anybody else do the same kind of things that you do?
KACZYNSKI: There’s kind of a group of people I know online who do I guess kind of research into candidates, that I’ve kind of met through the internet, through Twitter and through my email. So there’s a certain subset of people I know who do the same thing I do, but I think I’m one of the few people who do it specifically at a news organization.
LAMB: All right, let’s pretend for a moment, just for discussion purposes, that you’re with your parents and they say to you, Andrew, tell us how to be like you, live our days like you. What would you tell them to do?
KACZYNSKI: My days, I mean…
LAMB: I’m talking about the whole information flow.
KACZYNSKI: I guess…
LAMB: What do you do when you get up? What do you read?
KACZYNSKI: When I get up, I check my email. When I wake up, I’ve got 25 emails from the DNC, the RNC, from the Romney campaign, from the Obama campaign, from all these groups who are blasting out their news. If I want to find out my news right when I wake up, I’ll just check Twitter. The conversations, a lot of times, the conversation for the whole day, unless some sort of big newsbreak, it’s already happening on Twitter at 9 a.m., 8 a.m.
LAMB: Do you listen to the radio?
KACZYNSKI: Not really.
LAMB: Do you listen to talk radio?
LAMB: Do you know anybody that does?
KACZYNSKI: Yes, to a certain extent. More so its people I know who are on the right, who use the, who listen to talk radio. I think the left in this country sort of had their moment where they tried to start progressive talk radio, like with Air American, it didn’t really work out.
LAMB: So again, I’m your parents, I’m one of your parents and I say tell me how to be you. How do I live your life? How do I get into this same information stream?
KACZYNSKI: I’d say through Twitter. I’d say you read Twitter and…
LAMB: But, what is Twitter? How do I get Twitter?
KACZYNSKI: I guess I’d explain that to them like it’s kind of like, it’s almost like a news wire. It’s something where you can see, I follow 2,000 journalists. I’d say if you want to follow, I’d give you 2,000 people to follow on Twitter. If you follow these people, you know exactly the political conversation that’s happening to the second.
LAMB: How do you learn the 2,000?
KACZYNSKI: With me, I started off following like 800 people. The more you see people retweet each other, you see people talking to one another and then you find that these are the people to follow.
LAMB: But now people are a little confused if they’ve never done Twitter, do you go to Twitter.com? Do you sign up?
KACZYNSKI: Yes, you sign up on Twitter.com, make an account, make a username.
LAMB: And once you’re there though, what do you, again how do you get into who to follow? Is there a list somewhere?
KACZYNSKI: There are lists on Twitter that people like political journalists, I don’t know really of any good ones, but I would say the best thing to do is you find a journalist who follows 2,000 people who’s a political reporter for Politico, for BuzzFeed, for CBS, for NBC, you look at their follow list and you just go down clicking on follow.
LAMB: I’ve got another pick of yours, Senator Leahy on the floor of the senate. This is from 1999 that you picked this out.
PATRICK LEAHY: One very popular with children are Teletubbies, but yet we saw one leading conservative religious leader say that should be taken off the air because he objected to one of the Teletubbies. Maybe we got Teletubbies on one side and televangelists on the other, but somebody suggested one cartoon was Teletubbies tinky-winky, televangelist dopey-wopey, but that’s what I read in the paper. But do we then take that off or tax that?
LAMB: Why did that get your attention?
KACZYNSKI: That was also in my post of 1990’s moments. I thought it was hilarious that they were talking about Teletubbies on the Senate floor. I picked Senator Leahy because he’s someone who’s kind of obsessed with pop culture. He was in, I think he’s been in three Batman movies and he’s someone I think who, he’s someone who you rarely find who’s a senator who gets pop culture.
LAMB: Here’s another, this is only 18 seconds, this is former senator Byron Dorgan on the floor. (VIDEO BEGINS)
BYRON DORGAN: Ain’t Mad at Cha from Tupac, I can see us after school. We bomb the first blank, blank with the wrong blank. Picture perfect, I’d paint a picture, bomb the hoochies with precision. Ain’t nothing but a gangster party.
LAMB: Tell me about Tupac Shakur and that even jumps over a whole different generation. Why that clip?
KACZYNSKI: Well there was this time I think in the late ’90’s where people were obsessed with song lyrics, where they said song lyrics were the cause for the downgrading of American culture and for all the school shootings that happened. For me, I think when people look back today and they see that we were talking about Tupac on the Senate floor, they’re like my gosh, they thought this was the cause for all of these things with American culture.
LAMB: All right last, we’ve got, we’re running out of time, there are a lot of people, the old people that are involved in the old journalism that think that young people are just taking the old people’s product and reselling it.
KACZYNSKI: I think, I’d just say it’s adapting. I’d say we’re just building on what’s already there with the news.
LAMB: So you don’t feel that you take a product that somebody else has produced and then you just refeed it, put an ad on it like, and people think the same thing about Drudge. He just is an aggregator, takes everybody else’s product and feeds it.
KACZYNSKI: Well, part of the idea of BuzzFeed is that we don’t try to do aggregation, at least on the politics section. We try and do almost all original reporting and I can certainly see how, President Obama I remember at the White House Correspondents’ Dinner, he made a Huffington Post aggregation joke about how they’re taking other people’s work and that’s a joke from like 2006. That’s, journalism is changing and I think people are slowly adapting to it.
LAMB: What do your parents think of what you’ve done?
KACZYNSKI: They love it. They don’t quite understand it, but they love it. They’re slowly, at least through media, adapting to online journalism.
LAMB: Andrew Kaczynski of BuzzFeed.com, thank you very much for joining us.
KACZYNSKI: Good to be with you.