Thursday, October 12, 2006

Are liberals getting control of the Internet?

Robert Cox looks at YouTube's banning of Michelle Malkin and wonders if liberals are on the brink of gaining control of certain access points of the Internet in the same way that conservatives control talk radio.
In the waning days of Howard Dean’s abortive presidential campaign, I met many of the talented folks who played a role in turning the Dean Web site into a powerful fundraising tool that propelled an unknown candidate into the national spotlight. At various blogging conferences since, I have had the opportunity to observe many of these bright minds strategizing on how to best leverage the emerging world of blogs and other “social networking” services known as “Web 2.0” to advance their liberal political agenda and win elections.

Their common refrain: “We need to own the Internet the way the right owns talk radio.”

They got me wondering whether the online “conservative elite” was aware of what the left had in mind and, if so, whether they were concerned. During the past few years, I have had the opportunity to ask this of Internet specialists working on the Bush-Cheney campaign, top officials in the Republican National Committee, communications specialists at the White House and dozens of top conservative bloggers.

A-List blogger and talk radio show host Hugh Hewitt’s response was typical: “It doesn’t matter who creates the tools used by bloggers, but what bloggers do with those tools.”

When I suggested that ceding control of the major “nodes” in the online world to the left was a huge mistake, they were dismissive. It became clear they could not imagine one day finding themselves boxed out of what is fast becoming the biggest force in electoral politics.

Enter Fox News pundit, author and top-rated blogger Michelle Malkin. Last week she received notice from YouTube, the world’s most popular video sharing service, that her video had been deemed “offensive.” The result? Her account was terminated and her videos deleted.

YouTube refused to say why her videos were “offensive” and there was no avenue available to challenge the decision. Today, her videos are gone and her voice is suppressed on the most important video “node” on the Internet.
Read the rest. There is an essential difference. Talk radio is driven by customer preference so if it were profitable to host liberal talk shows, radio stations would do so. We've seen the results of that. It is not necessarily conservatives who own the radio stations and barring liberal talk show hosts. It's people just making the best business decision for their markets. However, is Google really in danger financially if they don't host conservative videos? Perhaps, Google will respond to conservative complaints; they did remove the limits on the David Zucker ad about Madeline Albright. So, maybe they are responsive to public outcries of bias. I'm still not convinced that the liberals are out on a mission to control the outlets for conservatives on the Internet or that they would choose ideology over profit.