Who's sweeping whom?
Maybe you think, along with Microsoft's Steve Ballmer, that Google paid way too much money for YouTube. And from a strict investment banker's point of view, $1.65 billion, even in Google (GOOG) stock, seems like a huge chunk of change. But you don't have to be as smart as Michael Hirschorn to see that Web video is the driving force behind American media right this second.

The latest piece of evidence is Michael Richards' inexplicably racist eruption at a Los Angeles comedy club last Friday, caught for all eternity by someone who flipped it to TMZ.com. (That site, which the New York Times declared on Monday is the nation's leading entertainment news site, is owned by Time Warner, which also owns CNNMoney.)

As recently as five years ago, a moment like this would have made it into a gossip column in one newspaper in New York or L.A., a publicist would furiously spin behind the scenes, and the incident would be a stain soon forgotten. But now, thanks to nifty phones and the power of Web video, Richards was forced to apologize within 24 hours of the thing being posted online--on network TV during sweeps.

It's not The Browser's job to meditate on the psychological motivation behind any of this (although for the record, we think The Malcontent pretty much nailed it). And our cynical side suspects that Jerry Seinfeld made room on the Letterman show for his old costar partly out of affection, and partly as damage control, lest Richards' spewing interfere with sales of a certain DVD. The point here is that video news now breaks on the Web first, leaving even the biggest networks to scramble to catch up. In and of itself, that's not a business model for YouTube, but it suggests that whomever can build an advertising platform around Web video will be able to host the next generation of Lettermans and Seinfelds.
Posted by Jim Ledbetter 9:21 AM 4 Comments comment | Add a Comment

The fascinating thing for me is that whatever the event, there is always video footage to document it. Forget copyright issues, YouTube has created an amazing citizen-accountability aggregator. As racist politicians and racist comedians have both found out recently, everything now has a second life online.
Posted By matthew, cardiff, wales : 10:31 AM  

Damn straight it was damage control. How else you gonna sell season 7 after that?
Posted By Kory,Tempe,AZ : 1:51 PM  

as a huge fan of Seinfeld, any one of that group could say anything they wanted about anybody anywhere, I wouldn't care, gimme my Seinfeld dvds ;-) Now, if that crap happened in the actual episodes instead of real life, it would be a different story...
Posted By Jon, Charlotte, NC : 4:46 PM  

Youtube and Google are the wave of the future. Now the little guy has a chance to get his voice heard. The YouTube-ification of media is equivalent to the dawn of the printing press.
Posted By William, Chicago Il : 5:16 PM  

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