YouTube As Fact Checker: UK Politicians Turn to the Tape

Here in the UK, last night’s Question Time — a BBC show where audience members can ask questions of a panel, usually consisting mainly of politicians — caused uproar as the BBC invited Nick Griffin, the controversial leader of the far right British National Party, to participate on the show.

While the general opinion seems to be that Griffin’s appearance hasn’t done his party many favors (and Griffin is planning on formally complaining about his treatment on the show), one thing about the show struck me as interesting. Every time Griffin tried to portray his party as being more moderate in its views, the other members of the panel would respond by pointing out various videos of Griffin available on YouTube (s GOOG), such as this one of Griffin appearing on stage with Ku Klux Klansman David Duke and explaining how to “sell” far right ideas, or denying that the holocaust took place. The live show didn’t stitch in the videos themselves, but the fact they existed was enough. While Griffin could claim that some quotes attributed to him in the media were untrue or taken out of context, it was very hard for him to deny the video evidence.

To see UK politicians — among them Jack Straw, a senior member of the Cabinet — citing specific YouTube videos to discredit Griffin (rather than, say, taking quotes from newspaper articles) was surprising and effective. Griffin had to resort to saying he couldn’t comment on the content of the Holocaust denial video out of concern he would be prosecuted under European law — a statement that was flatly denied by Jack Straw, who has some authority on the topic as UK Justice Secretary.

Simon Mackie is editor of our sister site WebWorkerDaily.