The Antisocial Network

Back when we were learning our trade as a reporter, in the late Seventies, conversation would sometimes turn to the concentration of media, and the power resulting from it. In retrospect, the landscape we observed was simple: Three broadcast networks, three national news magazines, one-newspaper cities, multi-city newspaper chains. Not only were their audiences concentrated, reaching those audiences otherwise required an enormous capital investment. Freedom of the press, the joke went, belongs to those to who own one.

The media were the gatekeepers of public information. “News” was what reporters and editors (and owners) decided it was. There were “alternatives” — alternate weeklies, alternative magazines — but their audiences were small, and thus their funding and resources were limited. Advertising, then and now, paid the bills, and the larger your audience, the more attractive you were to advertisers.

The power that arose was the power to control the public conversation, as well as the power to avoid accountability and the power to stifle competition. And despite the revolutionary changes in media and communications over the ensuing forty years, we’re finding ourselves back where we started.

Perhaps even worse.

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This Conspiracy Runs So Deep, You’re Better Off Not Knowing

Our guest columnist is YouTube, responding this morning to a video we posted on November 25, 2008.

Dear stinque,

Your video, “Joe the Plumber hawks DTV”, may have content that is owned or licensed by The Young Turks.

No action is required on your part; however, if you are interested in learning how this affects your video, please visit the Content ID Matches section of your account for more information.


– The YouTube Team

Dear Media: Show Your Work

Well! This looks like a fun story!

[Kansas House Speaker] Mike O’Neal (R) had sent the [anti-Obama] e-mail to House Republicans citing Psalm 109:8, which says, “Let his days be few and brief; and let others step forward to replace him,” the Lawrence Journal-World reported.

The email said: “At last — I can honestly voice a Biblical prayer for our president! Look it up — it is word for word! Let us all bow our heads and pray. Brothers and Sisters, can I get an AMEN? AMEN!!!!!!”.

The next line of the Psalm, which was not included in the e-mail, says “May his children be orphans and his wife a widow.”

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Bring on the Steamed Croutons!

One moment, the latest Bad Lip Reading video appeared on all your favorite political websites. The next moment, it was gone. Blame Will Ferrell, we guess.

Problem solved: Somebody naughty posted the Funny or Die video to YouTube. We now join Ron Paul’s Bad Feces Pudding, already in progress.

Follow Friday!

Utah firing squad death announced on Twitter [BBC]

You Won’t Have the Hitler Meme to Kick Around Any More…

Constantin Film, the German production company responsible for Der Untergang (“Downfall”), is starting to take down the gazillion or so YouTube Hitler parodies for copyright infringement. Probably including the gazillion or so new YouTube Hitler parodies denouncing its decision. [TechCrunch]

And Now For Something Completely Illegal

Nobody expects the Copyright Inquisition.

Turns out we’re not the only ones who got caught up in the recent Monty Python documentary. Chris Christie’s campaign for New Jersey governor lifted a clip from Flying Circus for a YouTube ad, which has brought out an anti-endorsement from Michael Palin:

“I’m surprised that a former U.S. Attorney isn’t aware of his copyright infringement when he uses our material without permission. He’s clearly made a terrible mistake. It was the endorsement of Sarah Palin he was after — not that of Michael Palin.”

Not to be out-pissed, Terry Jones weighs in as well:

“It is totally outrageous that a former US Attorney knows so little about the law that he thinks he can rip off people. On the other hand — another of Bush’s legal appointees was Alberto Gonzales and he didn’t seem to know much about the law either…”

The ad has been pulled from YouTube, although HuffPo has it. Alas, it wasn’t the Blackmail Sketch.

Chris Christie Rips Off Monty Python, Troupe Threatens Suit [HuffPo]