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eGuider Exclusive — March 25th, 2009
Top 15 Political Moments in YouTube History
by Brendan Lopez
Youtube has created a huge imprint since its inception and rise to online video dominance in the past several years. That imprint has affected the world in many dimensions – the way breaking news is covered, the spread of “viral” entertainment, even the means in which politicians are held accountable to the media and general public. In honor of Youtube’s far-reaching benefits, political and otherwise, here are some of the most memorable political moments in online video from the last several years, as played out though Youtube.
15. Jon Stewart on Crossfire (2006)
It may have been all the way back in 2006, but it’s the stuff of politically-charged YouTube legend - and it’s still getting insane hits. Stewart is invited onto Crossfire to explain The Daily Show’s negative remarks about CNN. The Crossfire duo may have expected to double-team him, but Stewart dodged every possible attack, standing by his statements that CNN’s political reports are skewed, untruthful, and doing a giant disservice to the American people. By the end of this heated debate, Jon’s got the Crossfire guys begging him to be the funny guy again.
14. Colbert Roasts Bush (2006)
We, the public, often take pleasure in Bush’s embarrassments, both on and off camera. We want to feel bad for the guy, but really, if you’re going to invite Steven Colbert to speak about you at your White House Correspondent Dinner, then you kind of asked for it. ABC had the initial coverage, but it was instantly all over YouTube as the only place viewers could watch it again, and again, and again in pure, uncomfortable bliss.
13. Kanye West Says Bush Hates Blacks (2006)
Musician Kanye West had already been acclaimed as a talented hip-hop lyricist by 2006, so when it came to fundraising for the victims of Hurricane Katrina, he figured he’d try his hand at some improvisational rhetoric. This is one of the most referred-to political statements of Bush’s career, and it’s largely thanks to the power of YouTube. If you haven’t seen it, you should consider double-checking your surroundings because you are probably living under a rock. I like to think of Mike Myers as the unsung hero of this video clip; he speaks for all of us when he says… just about nothing.
12. Jon Stewart vs. Jim Cramer (2009)
Three years later and Jon Stewart is back at CNN’s throat (or maybe he never let go). Video responses and excerpts of both Stewart’s rants and his controversial interview with Cramer (who hosts CNN’s Mad Money) are all the buzz on YouTube, even though it all originally aired on Comedy Central. And although it might not seem political, it is. Stewart blames CNN and Cramer for leading viewers astray, overtly lying to them, and encouraging them to make bad investments that eventually led to the current financial collapse (sounds kinda like a certain political administration, huh?). It’s a bold statement, and one that Cramer seems anxious to defend but depressingly tongue-tied when it comes to actually defending.
11. Letterman Goes After McCain (2008)
Not all press is good press, and David Letterman proved that in September of ’08 when McCain cancelled last minute as a guest on The Late Show due to “the exploding economy.” With over 3.5 million hits on YouTube for just one of the versions of this clip, Letterman’s rant against McCain and its popularity on the web affirms YouTube’s active part in spreading the word and picking apart each candidate’s behavior on the campaign trail.
10. Bill O’Reilly Flips Out (2009)
The Internet has pretty much always hated Bill O’Reilly, so the leaked footage of him flipping out during the filming of an Inside Edition broadcast was a pleasant surprise. For all those conservatives who look to O’Reilly as a level-headed, fair and balanced correspondent, well…. this kinda hurts their case. The most memorable moment in the video is when he guffaws the now infamous phrase, “We’ll do it live, f#ck it!”
9. Sarah Palin vs. Katie Couric (2008)
Once upon a time this interview could have been an embarrassing little blip on the political radar, but YouTube made sure Katie Couric’s interview with Palin went into infamy. We eagerly expected Ashton to jump out with his cameras, scoring the most significant “you got Punk’d!” in his career. Instead, we witnessed one of the most painful political interviews on American soil. I mean, really? Really? It’s hard to hate you when you make it so easy for us, Sarah.
8. Chuck Norris Approves Mike Huckabee (2007)
Mike Huckabee tried to reach for the YouTube-faithful demographic when he released his “Chuck Norris Approved” commercial while on his campaign for the Republican presidential nomination. Though it wasn’t quite as successful as Obama’s viral ads, it still makes us chuckle and sigh in remembrance of a simpler time… a time when a Chuck Norris roundhouse kick could put any man, woman, or child in The White House… or in the hospital.
7. Andy Samberg’s Tribute to the President of Iran (2007)
When Iranian President, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, said quite openly to an auditorium full of U.S. college students that “In Iran, we do not have homosexuals as you do in your country”, it shocked us to the point of laughter. So it was a delightful surprise when SNL’s Andy Samberg took the material and ran with it. Popular not only for the satirical political message, this music video’s solid melody kept us coming back for more… and before we knew it, everyone was flocking like crazy to YouTube (and then Hulu) to have a good laugh at President Ahmadinejad’s expense.
6. Obama Girl’s I’ve Got a Crush on Obama (2007)
Who ever said politics can’t look good in a bikini? A 2007 Youtube video featuring actress/model Amber Lee Ettinger, in which she professed (via song) her crush for Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama, was a visually stunning viral success. The video, entitled “I’ve Got a Crush on a Obama” led to an entire scantily-clad series and had a legitimate impact in increasing Obama’s online popularity.
5. Youtube/CNN Presidential Debates (2007)
The 2008 Youtube/CNN debates between Democratic and Republican presidential candidates were a milestone for online video. While not all the questions were exactly of genius quality, they did get more at the heart of what Americans really care about – even when through the filter Anderson Cooper.
4. Palin’s Prank Call (2008)
By the end of ’08, we’d almost had enough of Palin’s media blunders, but YouTubers just couldn’t keep their hands off of this one. Two comics from Quebec called Sarah Palin pretending to be French President Nicolas Sarkozy, and she bought it without a second thought. The comics posted their feat on YouTube, and the rest is history. With just under two million hits, I think it’s fair to say that Palin got pwn3d! (And by Canada, no less.)
3. Obama’s “Vote Different” Campaign (2007)
If there’s one thing that Obama’s team did better than anyone else, it was their use of YouTube as a tool to get people talking long before the Democratic primaries had even begun. This kind of viral campaigning is what has made YouTube such a hot spot politically, and ads like this were just the beginning. Mimicking Apple’s popular 1984 super bowl ad, Obama’s team unleashed its ultimate weapon of Internet infection on the Clinton campaign, and thanks to YouTube, nobody missed it.
2. Yes We Can (2008)
The Black Eyed Peas’ Will.I.Am teamed up with a slew of celebrities, including Scarlett Johansson, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, and John Legend, for a music video adaptation of Obama’s January 8 New Hampshire primary speech. At once motivational and entertaining, the video quickly shot to viral stardom on Youtube, and currently tallies over 17 million views. It was a profound way for American celebrities to voice their support for change, and help put Obama in The White House.
1. Bush Attacked by a Shoe (2008)
We thought it might be over for Bushisms and W-related hijinks, but late in December of 2008 we were proved wrong. In the last month of his presidency, as he issued a farewell to Iraq, an Iraqi reporter tossed Bush the ultimate message of disrespect by throwing his shoe at the former U.S. President’s head. An apparent grand finale for Bush’s many appearances on YouTube, this video left audiences feeling that commonly-referred-to sensation of shock and awe. Shock at the fact that we might actually pity Bush a little bit, and awe at the fact that he dodged the shoe like such a champ.
Contributor: Brendan Lopez
Brendan is a freelance writer and improvisational actor living in Los Angeles, California. He studied English and Girls at Brown University and contributes to a number of entertainment and humor blogs, including DoubleViking.com.