In case you missed it, a scandal erupted yesterday over the TED talk Nick Hanauer gave on the subject of wealth inequality. As the story first broke, Hanauer and others spun the tale of political censorship at the hands of the popular online educational and inspirational videos.
We talked about it here on The Good Feed Blog, and included the video, which TED released so that the public could draw its own conclusion as to the quality of the speech and the validity of the argument.
This morning, TED executive Chris Anderson posted a piece on his TEDChris blog titled “TED and Inequality” explaining TED’s reasoning behind not running the video on their site:
At TED this year, an attendee pitched a 3-minute audience talk on inequality. The talk tapped into a really important and timely issue. But it framed the issue in a way that was explicitly partisan. And it included a number of arguments that were unconvincing, even to those of us who supported his overall stance. The audience at TED who heard it live (and who are often accused of being overly enthusiastic about left-leaning ideas) gave it, on average, mediocre ratings.
At TED we post one talk a day on our home page. We’re drawing from a pool of 250+ that we record at our own conferences each year and up to 10,000 recorded at the various TEDx events around the world, not to mention our other conference partners. Our policy is to post only talks that are truly special. And we try to steer clear of talks that are bound to descend into the same dismal partisan head-butting people can find every day elsewhere in the media.
Based upon this, TED decided that the quality of the speech was simply not up to their standards in comparison to other options at their disposal.
According to the TEDChris blog post, Hanauer did not react well and threatened to do exactly what he did: launch a campaign to create a scandal, which Anderson compares to a writer’s Op-Ed being rejected by The New York Times. Would we call that rejection “censorship”?
This brings up some fascinating questions. First, what was the duty of TED in this situation? Did they react correctly by releasing Hanauer’s video despite the first rejection?
How about the power of social media to create a scandal that spreads like wild fire? How about the people who think this was simply a clever PR trick by TED and/or Hanauer to drum up the resulting page views?
If you’re usually a big fan of TED, how did you react to the Hanauer’s video? Did you see this as censorship or simply editorial judgement?
Chris Anderson recommends the video by Richard Wilkinson (below) as one that was chosen by TED on the subject of economic inequality. What do you think? Was Hanauer’s truly lacking in comparison?