The popular video-sharing YouTube site, which is being purchased by Google for $1.65 billion, limited access to a political ad that mocks the Clinton administration’s policy on North Korea, but contains no profanity, nudity or other factors generally thought objectionable.
The company announced a “flagging” policy change just this week, about the time that a controversial spoof by Republican filmmaker David Zucker depicting former Secretary of State Madeline Albright as a cheerleader for Islamic terrorists started appearing with a warning page in front, requiring verification that a viewer is 18 before the video will appear.
The short film by Zucker, who worked with “Scary Movie 4,” “Airplane!” and other comedies, reportedly had been offered to the Republican Party for use as an ad, but it was declined. Then it appeared on the Drudge Report and also on YouTube.
However, after a brief period of accessibility, the verification page started appearing on YouTube. It asked that: “This video may contain content that is inappropriate for some users, as flagged by YouTube’s user community. To view this video, please verify you are 18 or older by logging in or signing up.” Today the verification page on the spoof was removed.
Some other YouTube videos on stripping or other explicit activities have similar advisories; some don’t. But the campaign video doesn’t contain any of those typically objectionable items.
It contains depictions and references to Albright and North Korea’s Kim Jong-Il, with Albright presenting the dictator with a basketball and later singing Kum Ba Yah. At the same time, terrorists are sneaking past in the background or foreground.
The audio tells that, “Making nice to our enemies will not make them nice to us,” and, “Some people think terrorists will change their ways if we only show them our good intentions.”
The video continues, “But evil exists. History teaches that evil needs to be confronted. Evil dictators will be evil dictators no matter what we do.
“The security of the U.S. is not a game. Can we afford a party that treats it like one?” is how the video concludes.
YouTube’s newest posting about such “flagging” came just a few days ago, as the political ad was making the rounds.
Maryrose, of The YouTube Team, said if any video viewer flags a video as inappropriate, it is forwarded to a queue for the company’s customer support team to review.
If videos are flagged, viewers must sign in to watch.
And, the company said, sometimes flagged videos follow the companies guidelines, but “are not quite appropriate for all YouTube users. This could be due to a number of things – profanity, violence, adult content etc.”
However, the political video contained none of those ingredients, unless satire also could be considered objectionable.
“The closest thing to an explicit image in the ad is a scene in which ‘Albright’ bends over and her skirt tears a bit in the seat, hardly the stuff that sets FCC commissioners’ hearts aflutter,” said a comment from Matthew Sheffield on the weblog Newbusters.org.
The commentator noted YouTube has “dismembered conservative and politically incorrect speech” in the past, pulling videos critical of Islam and even banning popular conservative blogger Michelle Malkin, who
is also a WND columnist.
Sexually suggestive videos were found on the site unblocked, as were entire episodes of television shows. So was a clip from a movie depicting the assassination of President Bush, “Death of a President.”
“Perfectly OK to show our soldiers getting killed, but they’ll be damned if they allow that anti-democrat ad,” added “Spaceman Spiff” in a “Newsbusters online dialogue. “This [is] very scary to me. However, not surprising. But, now that they are owned by Google, we’ll certainly be seeing a lot more of this censoring.”
Google has come under its own criticism for holding an anti-conservative or anti-Republican agenda. It has been criticized in the past, according to a WND report for hosting “Paiderastia: The Boy Love Revival” site on its weblog.
It has in the past censored various Christian-themed ads, but allowed porn ads. In the past it has produced “President Bush” when searchers hunt for “miserable failure.”
And a Google search for “liar” produced as the top choice a site for a biography for British Prime Minister Tony Blair, a close ally with President Bush in the war on terror.
Sheffield said he believes the intention of YouTube’s “censorship squad” was to limit access. Even though the same video may be available somewhere else, such as the Drudge Report, “lots of non-political and moderate folks don’t read Drudge, but they might hear about the video from a friend and try to look it up in the search engine, only to be foiled in their attempts to decide whether it was truly ‘objectionable.’”
jdhawk noted in the Newsbusters dialogue that Rush Limbaugh has been doing acerbic lampoons of “the Defeatocrats” for some time. “They are not only hilarious, but get right to the point. Of course, one can only visualize a scene when listening to one of his barbed zingers. Zucker has done to video what Rush has been doing to the audio genre. It can only be hoped that the RNC sees its way to release Zucker’s work to a wider audience.”
Bloggers also reported that the Council on American Islamic Relations has in the past taken steps to have anti-radical Islamist videos pulled from the YouTube site, and Malkin said she was told her video was pulled because it was “inappropriate.”
The New York Times even was critical of the censorship of Malkin’s piece, titled “First They Came,” which talked of authors, politicians and filmmakers who had been made targets by Islamists.
“This is not to suggest that Ms. Malkin’s video would not be particularly offensive to some people. There is little that Ms. Malkin says or does that is not. But it is hard to imagine what YouTube hopes to gain by punting such content, or what sort of uphill rhetoric battle it is setting itself up for when it does so,” the Times report said.
One discussion board contributor responded: “Michelle Malkin offends people who spend every waking minute, and probably a significant portion of their dreams, scouring the universe for reasons to be offended. You only get the big target on your back from the MSM when you’re conservative and you’re scoring points on them with impunity. Go Michelle!”
If you would like to sound off on this issue, participate in today’s WND Poll.