When media personality Tim Russert, once a top adviser to leading Democratic officeholders in New York, died of a heart attack in June, editors at YouTube rightly paid tribute to him by promoting videos that celebrated his work and life.
They didn't extend the same courtesy to conservative journalist Tony Snow over the weekend. Instead, YouTube chose to mark Snow's passing by featuring a liberal rant that blamed Snow for "hundreds of thousands of deaths," including those of innocent children, because he briefly served as President Bush's spokesman.
The video was one of two promoted in YouTube's news and politics section after Snow died of cancer at age 53. The first clip, from an interview with White House counselor Ed Gillespie on CBS' "Face The Nation," gave Snow his much-deserved due as "one of the good guys."But in an apparent and twisted attempt at balance, the second Snow-related clip that YouTube chose was headlined "Tony Snow Job." Here's how it began:
When somebody passes away, how come we always have to give our condolences? I understand if they are good people, but what if because of their rhetoric, hundreds of thousands of people have died, innocent children have died. People have had their houses broken into looking for weapons, have had their house(s) vandalized.And the callous disrespect worsened from there. The video suggested that Snow had his shot at praise when he was alive, if only he had been "a righteous, moral, ethical person." The user dubbed "Witzkeyman" ended by complaining, "[W]e focus on the tragic death but not their immoral acts. It's part of our society."
Contrast the editorial decision at YouTube to promote that video with the selections the site made after Russert's passing just weeks earlier.
The liberal Internet video site TPMtv created two of the featured Russert clips. The first was from a special report by NBC's Tom Brokaw, a Russert colleague. "[T]his news division will not be the same without his strong, clear voice," Brokaw said. The other TPMtv clip recapped the Russert tributes from the Sunday news shows two days after his death.
YouTube also featured four other videos about Russert, three times the amount for Snow, and none of them had the hateful spin of Witkeyman's "Tony Snow Job." They included tributes by Republican presidential candidate John McCain and Chris Cillizza of The Washington Post, as well as from a couple of offbeat YouTubers.
Why the unequal treatment of two media icons at YouTube? It certainly wasn't for lack of material about Snow. The site is home to plenty of videos that could have been used to remember him at his best, whether at work or play.
The only conclusion is that the editors in charge of YouTube's featured videos have an agenda: They want to make conservatives look bad -- so much so that they are willing to dispense with civility and common decency upon the death of a great conservative like Tony Snow, who has garnered praise even from liberals.