As I noted (to much derision from the peanut gallery) back in August, Tina Fey bears a striking resemblance to Vice Presidential Candidate Sarah Palin. It seemed like an innocuous observation to me - they both looked pretty similar to me. Vindication from comments like “you are trashing the site with the political drivel” came several weeks later when Tina Fey appeared on Saturday Night Live impersonating the political candidate.
The skit was subject to much discussion and dissection, as it was wildly popular online, and has been credited by some analysts I’ve spoken to as being the reason why the comedy show has seen a ratings boost in recent weeks (in addition to the millions of views accrued across Hulu, NBC.com and YouTube from that skit alone).
So hungry for viral video views was NBC and SNL that they even uploaded a copy of the skit to YouTube, something that hasn’t been done since NBC entered into joint venture with Fox with Hulu.
It seems that NBC might have a double standard, though, when it comes to where their viral video hits come from. A number of mostly right-wing political pundits are noting this evening that Hulu, NBC, and YouTube have all pulled what was an incredibly hilarious video lampooning the bailout bill announcement from CSPAN.
The reason being posited? The clip mercilessly lampooned billionaire liberal activist George Soros and the Democrat position in presenting the bailout bill. I’ll be honest - it sounds like a plausible position. Not only have many of the cast members (including Tina Fey herself) come out as saying they’d much rather Palin were defeated at the polls than continue to have these wildly popular skits, but the skit is one of very few on the show that has portrayed Democrats in such a negative light in a long time.
Setting aside the politics for a moment, the skit (which I had the good fortune to see on Hulu before it was pulled this morning) is absolutely hilarious. It doesn’t do the skit justice, but Michelle Malkin was good enough to transcribe it and post it to her personal blog (Update: Pat Dollard has bravely locally hosted the clip at his blog). It’s definitely worth checking out.
What makes things look even worse for NBC in this case is that they’re not only going about the business of removing the clip wherever it showed up, but they’re also removing any comments that inquire as to what happened to the clip and why it was removed.
Is NBC really that far into the pocket of the Democrats or is there a more plausible explanation? I searched for one all over, and the answers were a bit difficult to arrive at due to the fact that none on the liberal side of the political blogosphere seemed willing to cover the story at all. The only clues I were able to find were from a blurb towards the end of one of Michelle Malkin’s pieces covering the topic:
One of the rapacious couples featured in the skit was Herbert and Marion Sandler (portrayed by Darrell Hammond and Casey Wilson). Unlike the other composite figures, the Sandlers are a real-life couple.
As Todd Thurman at Heritage notes, the Sandlers are left-wing moguls who built “a mortgage company whose major product was subprime mortgages and they sold it to Wachovia for $24.2 billion in 2006. And what do the Sandlers do when they are not peddling subprime garbage? They are busy writing checks to leftist groups like the Center for American Progress, the American Civil Liberties Union, and Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN). Yes that ACORN.”
The Sandlers are seething over the skit. And George Soros must be livid as well. Anyone else smell a legal threat behind the disappearance of the vid?
As you can see from the screenshot of the video, the segment with Herbert and Marion Sandler is subtitled “People who should be shot.” We all know that Saturday Night Live is a comedy show, and that much worse things are said about folks on comedy programs on a daily basis, but the likely silver bullet here is that the Sandlers knew that this skit portrayed not only themselves in a bad light, but their ideology.
From here, the theoretical story diverges based on your personal ideology. One version says that with the Sandlers being people of means, it was likely no big feat to unleash the lawyers on NBC. As billionaires themselves (and likely backed up by their friend George Soros), NBC was forced to pull the clips and aggressively pursue those who would re-post it on YouTube (as well as remove all comments inquiring on the matter due the pending legal case).
The other version says that the Sandlers and Soros rang up Lorne Michaels and said: “Buddy. Pal. Friend. Get that crap of the intarwebs. It’s only hurting the cause, and we’ll compensate you the thirty bucks you would have made from your Partner Account on YouTube on all those video views.”
Does This Have a Meaning Beyond Petty Political Views?
Regardless of which version you believe, it does mark a very unusual situation for information dispersion on the web. On the one hand, the toothpaste is out of the tube, and certain segments of the population know about it. On the other, due to a confluence of ideology and business interests, several very powerful forces (both in terms of corporate size and media influence) are doing their very best to make sure all traces of the skit are disappeared.
Judging by the level of political chatter that takes place on just about every social networking tool and platform out there, I don’t need to speculate on the effects this will have on the election not just for president but for all the myriad of congressional seats up for grabs next month - you guys have that covered.
Beyond that, it’s an interesting case of what the future may look like as more media consolidation takes place, and power gets concentrated into the hands of just a few companies. This is the best example you’ll find of silenced political speech on a wide scale. Whether NBC wanted to be on message with the Democrats or whether a few billionaires got offended and exerted their influence on the network (which then exerted their influence on another multi-billion dollar company - Google), the machine seems well suited for removing media they wish disappeared.
Where we go from here may no longer be up to us.
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