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Romney Campaign Pulls Latest Anti-Rick Perry Ad, Drawing More Attention To It

Yesterday morning, Mitt Romney released a video that, in a nutshell, suggested that Rick Perry might be a dope.

It wasn’t explicit. It was just a compilation of some of Perry’s hem-ier haws from his debate performances interlaced with pundits scratching their heads and, in one instance, suggesting that Perry “really did throw up on himself.” The video ended with the tagline “Rick Perry: Ready To Lead?”

You can see the full transcript of the ad below, but you can’t see the full video online – just this little snippet someone captured from a CNN broadcast.

You can’t see the whole thing because, apparently, the Romney campaign pulled the ad. Gone. In a blink. Poof. A mistake corrected.

In 2003, Barbara Streisand became upset that photos of her expansive Malibu home ended up online. She spent a lot of time and energy trying to get the photos taken down – which had the net effect of inspiring every smart-aleck on the web to post the photos everywhere they could. Streisand’s public effort to hide the information had the net effect of amplifying it. The Streisand effect was born.

The Romney ad went through the same thing last night. After it was pulled, a number of political reporters (the New Yorker‘s Ryan Lizza, Politico’s Ben Smith) tried to track it down; there was even a half-hearted request on Reddit seeking a copy. Eventually, ThinkProgress came across the segment posted above. Inspired by its absence, a video that had created a bit of noise during the day became a tumult when it vanished.

My point, though, isn’t the silliness of Romney pulling the ad and stirring up the water. It isn’t to note that this will do little to stem the critique that Romney is a flip-flopper. It isn’t even to point out how dumb the ad is in the first place, when Perry, as Gawker’s Jim Newell pointed out, was already failing on his own.

My point is this: how, in the year 2011, could scores of news websites and blogs allow a single point of failure on a newsworthy video?

I spent about an hour last night trying to find a full version of the original ad. I scoured Google, Twitter and Facebook, looking to see if someone had downloaded and re-hosted the video, if anyone had a version that was still visible after YouTube turned out the lights. As I note above, others looked too. But with that one simple action, one click by the Romney campaign, the ad all but vanished.

This is exactly the sort of thing the Internet is supposed to prevent. It’s intended to be a distributed, robust network without a single point of failure. But in this case, YouTube was a single point. Every viewer of that video, it turned out, had to pass through YouTube’s door. And when it was locked, the ad was all but gone.

We use YouTube because it’s easy. Upload, grab the embed code, post on a site. Done. I can’t think of a single time the site has had a stability issue or outage, and besides for some occasionally over-zealous copyright protections, videos that go up stay up. People don’t think twice about using or pointing to YouTube clips – unless they know that the content is illicit or likely to violate terms of service. YouTube is the IBM of web video – no one ever got fired for using it. But its ubiquity, its near monopoly, means that it becomes a single, closable gateway for a video that’s going viral.

But, assuming that the Romney camp never puts the video back up, and that no other longer version emerges, we have the little segment above. About half of the whole thing, pulled from a CNN broadcast onto someone’s computer.

And then, to make sure that everyone could see it – uploaded to YouTube.

Script of the ad (via Business Insider):

AD FACTS: Script For “Ready To Lead?”

CNN’s ANDERSON COOPER: “And welcome to the Sands Convention Center at the Venetian in Las Vegas.”

CNN’s Anderson Cooper: “And welcome to the Sands Convention Center at the Venetian in Las Vegas.” (Republican Presidential Candidates Debate, Las Vegas, NV, 10/19/11)

CNN’s JOHN KING: “It is Rick Perry’s moment of truth.”

CNN’s John King: “In presidential politics, it is Rick Perry’s moment of truth.” (CNN’s “John King, USA,” 10/11/11)

CNN’s GLORIA BORGER: “Republicans need to believe that if they are going to nominate somebody, this person can stand next to Barack Obama on the stage.”

CNN’s Gloria Borger: “Republicans need to believe that if they are going to nominate somebody, this person can stand next to Barack Obama on the stage and go at him and do well at it.” (CNN’s “Anderson Cooper 360,” 10/12/11)

RICK PERRY: “Was it — was before he was before the social programs, from the standpoint of he was for.”

Rick Perry: “Was it — was before he was before the social programs, from the standpoint of he was for standing up for Roe v. Wade before he was against Roe v. Wade?” (Republican Presidential Candidates Debate, Orlando, FL, 9/22/11)

CNN’s RANDI KAYE: “Do or die for him.”

CNN’s Randi Kaye: “Some, tonight, say it’s do or die for him.” (CNN’s “Newsroom,” 10/11/11)

RICK PERRY: “Not whether or not we are going to have this policy or that policy. …We don’t need any plan.”

Rick Perry: “What we need to be focused on in this country today is not whether or not we are going to have this policy or that policy. … We don’t need any plan to pass Congress.”(Republican Presidential Candidates Debate, Hanover, NH, 10/11/11)

FOX NEWS’ BRIT HUME: “Perry did really throw up all over himself in the debate.”

Fox News’ Brit Hume: “They’re all — I mean, Perry really did throw up all over himself in the debate at a time when he needed to raise his game.” (Fox’s “Fox News Sunday,” 9/25/11)

RICK PERRY: “But the fact is, Americans understand faith.”

Rick Perry: “But the fact is, Americans understand faith.” (Republican Presidential Candidates Debate, 10/18/11)

CNN’s CAROL COSTELLO: “Rick Perry plunging in the polls, rolling the dice.”

CNN’s Carol Costello: “Rick Perry plunging in the polls, rolling the dice with a sharp attack against Mitt Romney and it got ugly and uncomfortable.” (CNN’s “American Morning,” 10/19/11)

NEVADA GOP CHAIRWOMAN AMY TARKANIAN: “He would just calm down. He seemed very agitated.”

Nevada GOP Chairwoman Amy Tarkanian: “A lot of people that were sitting by me were hoping that he would just calm down. He seemed very agitated.” (CNN’s “American Morning,” 10/19/11)

REDSTATE’s ERICK ERICKSON: “Set the benchmark so low at the last debate.”

RedState.com’s Erick Erickson: “He set such a benchmark so low at the last debate.” (CNN’s “John King, USA,” 10/12/11)

RICK PERRY: “I mean we’ll wait until tomorrow, and see…”

Rick Perry: “I mean, we’ll wait until tomorrow and — and — and see which Mitt Romney we’re really talking to tonight.” (Republican Presidential Candidates Debate, Orlando, FL, 9/22/11)

FOX NEWS’ GRETCHEN CARLSON: “He doesn’t have his economic plan yet.”

Fox News’ Gretchen Carlson: “He doesn’t have his economic plan yet.” (Fox News’ “Fox & Friends,” 9/22/11)

REDSTATE’s ERICK ERICKSON: “All he had to do is show up and smile.”

RedState.com’s Erick Erickson: “I mean, really, all he had to do is show up and smile at this debate, and the Perry folks would be a little bit feeling at ease this morning.” (CNN’s “John King, USA,” 10/12/11)

THE WASHINGTON POST’s DANA MILBANK: “He’s just a shadow of his former self.”

The Washington Post’s Dana Milbank: “He’s just a shadow of his former self.” (MSNBC, 9/23/11)

CNN’s GLORIA BORGER: “You cannot do that debate with other Republicans he’s going to have a hard time against Barack Obama.”

CNN’s Gloria Borger: “And if he cannot do that in a debate with his Republican contenders, with the other Republicans, he’s going to have a hard time against Barack Obama. That’s what people are looking for. And he hasn’t shown it yet.” (CNN’s “Anderson Cooper 360,” 10/11/11)

UPDATE TPM has heard from the Romney camp. Not their fault, they say; CNN asked them to pull the ad for copyright reasons.

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