UPDATE 1:00PM ET: Though the ‘Holy Weather’ video has been removed from youtube by the uploader, Mediaite has re-posted it. Embedded above.
This weekend, thirty seconds of video surfaced in which veteran DC reporter Helen Thomas, in a snippet of an informal interview, is asked about her views on Israel. In the uproar that’s followed, the 89-year-old Thomas has announced her retirement, ending a career that spans back to President Eisenhower and opening a literal front-row seat to Fox News.
The Flipcam video in question was shot and posted by Rabbi David Nesenoff, who runs the Geocities-esque fledgling video blog RabbiLive.com. The Helen Thomas video is by far the most visited part of the site, having racked up over a million views since Thursday, with most other videos barely clearing a thousand – and, smartly, it takes up most of the site’s front page, along with a teaser for more forthcoming footage from the same interview.
Nesenoff has stated that he approached Thomas due to her icon status, not due to the common conservative beef with her for her well-known stance on Israel. (That said, the video doesn’t provide context for him asking her about ‘Israel’ in so many words.) But since then, he’s been interviewed on Fox News, and owes much of his sudden web traffic to conservative news curators like Matt Drudge and Andrew Breitbart, the latter of whom is widely credited with bringing down ACORN with a hidden camera and a pimp costume. Never mind that the ACORN ‘pimp’ videos have since been discredited as edit jobs.
Nesenoff’s Thomas video ends with the text “How can Helen possibly report unbiased?” Perhaps a better question is, who polices our press, and for what? We live in an age in which Fox News draws an uneasy distinction between its ‘news’ and ‘opinion’ programming, BP is easily able to limit press access to Gulf beaches, RedState.com’s Erick Erickson is a regular on CNN, and David Gregory shrugs off the idea of factchecking Meet the Press. So who’s in charge of holding our fourth estate to its highest ideals, if not its audience, employers, or advertisers? Well, there’s the Daily Show, and Colbert… and, more and more, there’s random dudes with small cameras and big dreams, and the news brokers who choose to highlight them on an agenda-by-agenda basis. One doesn’t need to justify or condemn the actions of Thomas, or Nesenoff, to question the system that brought us all to Youtube on this day.
Anyway, here’s a video from February of this year in which Rabbi Nesenoff dons a terrible Mexican impression and makes a lot of jokes about being detained by ICE. You’ve got a stronger stomach than me if you can make it past the one about being a dishwasher. What is it with these gotcha-guys and wigs?