May’s Most Bogus Viral Election Videos


It’s the dark side of Web 2.0: Now that everyone has the means to produce political videos, anyone can become Fox News. As we saw with the grating Yes We Can video, the irony is that these efforts are often counterproductive to the creators’ intentions. Worse, they’re viral in the word’s original sense: The more they spread, the sicker the country’s political discourse gets. So here’s a NewTeeVee disinfectant against three bogus videos that ranked among the highest on this month’s Viral Video Chart:

Hillary Clinton boasts of support from ‘white Americans’: The title would have you believe Hillary was caught speaking at a Klan rally, but the uploader just used YouTube’s labeling tools to deceptively contextualize the actual video. In this repackaging of a phone interview with USA Today’s Kathy Kiely, Senator Clinton merely points out that she has more support among working-class, white voters than Senator Obama — a factual statement. And then, in the very same sentence, she also claims stronger support among Democratic-leaning independent voters. So it’s clear she’s just analyzing her supporters’ demographic/ideological makeup — hardly engaging in racially “divisive crap,” as the video uploader would have it.

IN 52 SECS WHY BARACK OBAMA CANNOT WIN A GENERAL ELECTION: More deceptive repackaging, this time of an Obama campaign video, from someone claiming to be an anti-Obama Reagan Democrat. In not a single one of these 52 seconds does Senator Obama intimate, as the description caption asserts, that he “PLANS ON DISARMING AMERICA”; it’s doubtful that his plans to reduce nuclear weapons and cut wasteful defense spending will cost him the election — seeing as neither issue even registers as a voter concern in a May Pew survey. Given the video’s patent bogusness, you’d think it’d be ignored. You’d be wrong: More than 2 million people have watched this thing. (That’s what happens when there’s feedback in the echo chamber.)

Obama Takes on President Bush and John McCain: This video is dubious on several interesting levels. First, it’s simply not true that Bush “accused [Obama] and other Democrats of wanting to negotiate with terrorists” and compared them to Hitler appeasers at the Israeli Knesset — as the transcript shows, he didn’t mention any of them at all. Nor is it true that McCain “hasn’t spelled out one substantial way in which he’d be different to George Bush [in] foreign policy” — he did that last March. A lot of otherwise valid criticisms are lost in these misfires. But what’s really interesting is who’s responsible for turning this into a viral video: Obama’s own campaign. The fact that the campaign uploaded the video raises questions about the whole operation: Do they really think this clip shows their candidate in the best light?

Those are the worst culprits this month, and the general election’s still five more months away. No doubt far worse are still to come.

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