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The Kanye West Video Controversy

And I'm not even talking about the ludicrous content of the video (Click here to watch Kanye West video).

In this post [*** Post deleted, shown in the extended entry and as a PDF] Dan Riehl notes that Michelle Malkin linked to a video of a male stripper in her post about Kanye West's anti-Bush tirade on NBC's Friday hurricane telethon. The reason she linked to a male stripper video is because she directly linked to a video file at Riehl's site; a file he later changed to the male stripper video.

Riehl then compares the incident to a notorious incident that occurred at the Huffington Post, right after they first launched. His comparison, however, is somewhat flawed...

Using the HTML <IMG> tag to show a picture hosted at another site (RedState in the HuffPo example) is the classic definition of hotlinking. Linking direct to a video file, while bad etiquette, isn't quite as the same offense. The difference is that it does not tax the bandwidth of the video host unless the reader actually clicks the link to view the video (something they presumably would do if they followed a link to the video host web site). What the video host looses by direct links to media files is the HTML page view of the page they've linked the video on. That page view is important for traffic statistics and ad sales, both of which must have their tracking code executed by and HTML page. Direct links to the video short circuit those counters measuring the traffic, hence presumably lead to loss of ad revenue.

So there's a subtle difference between hotlinking a picture (that hits the other site every time one of your pages loads) and direct linking to a video file. Those who host video files on a regular basis are well aware of the direct link practice and more often than not take one of a handful of simple measures to prevent it. At Wizbang it's not possible to direct link to one of our videos - all links to a video file must come from this domain. When a site direct links a video the user is redirected to the WizbangTV Archive page where they can find and then watch the video. Mainstream media outlets use their video server software to obscure the name of the video file to prevent direct links, and some are even displaying videos in Macromedia's Flash format to prevent any video linking.

As is probably evident this isn't a new issue on the wider 'Net, it's one that's been fleshed out over several years. For the blogosphere, and specifically those who fancy themselves video bloggers, it's imperative that they understand direct link defenses before they get into the video hosting business, lest they end up with a several thousand dollar hosting bill - as many sites did during the South East Asia tsunamis. Of course even direct link protection won't save your bandwidth if people all come view your video via a web page once they watch the video - especially if the incoming link is from and ultra-high traffic site like Drudge or FARK.

All that is backdrop to Riehl's complaint (shown in the extended entry and as a PDF) that Malkin "hotlinked" him. Here's the text of the message Dan sent to a blind cc: list (yes I was on that list...)


NBC Video
Just listen to this via NBC - went over every network, I'm told.

George Bush doesn't care about black people, they've been given permission to go down there and shoot us.
(Note: Don't bother clicking the link, but in the e-mail was a direct link to the actual video file)

Malkin used the link to the video, and listed Reilly's site by name (but didn't include the link to his post). At this point Malkin has basically used the content of a message sent to her by another blogger (a common practice), but she didn't include a link to the post where the video was discussed (less common, but not unheard of). The text of her link to the video was Reilly's site name.

In an addendum to her story, Malkin says...

A footnote about the "hacked" video. Last night, I linked to the West video at Dan Riehl's site after he e-mailed me a link to it. I hat-tipped him by name and thanked him by e-mail. He later sent me another e-mail, which I missed and did not find until this afternoon, requesting that I use a link to his post instead of the link to the video that he had sent. In the meantime, Riehl got mad about what he saw as insufficient credit to him, put the porn video up himself to replace the Kayne West video, and now accuses me of stealing his bandwidth. I regret that I missed his e-mail and am sorry he feels I didn't credit him enough. I'm even sorrier that such an honest misunderstanding exposed my readers to the obscene video.

A note to other bloggers: In the future, if you do not want me to link to something on your site, please do not send me links and e-mails asking me to do so. Thank you.

I'm going out on a limb here and guessing that Riehl wasn't upset about lack of credit, but lack of traffic stats. His is one of the sites that has had a massive increase in traffic due to continuous coverage of the Natalie Holloway story. Since he's accused another site of traffic stat shenanigans, I tend to suspect that he may have a bit of a case of "stat obsession." Since Malkin's link wasn't to a HTML page, the SiteMeter wasn't ringing up visitors.

So what lessons can we learn from this little scuffle?

  • Much like the adage about never putting anything in an e-mail you don't want to see on the front page of the Washington Post, don't send HTML links to other bloggers you don't want them to use. By that I mean a direct link to a video file.
  • Linking directly to a media file at another site is risky business especially if you're sending lots of traffic. If you do link directly to a video, don't be surprised if the link is later blocked or altered.
  • If you're hosting videos you better be prepared for direct linkers because, unless you keep an obsessive eye on your server logs, they can eat up your bandwidth before you even notice.
  • Before accusing another blogger of negligent behavior, assess your own culpability in the sequence of events.
  • Deleting a post (as Riehl appears to have done) doesn't put the Genie back in the bottle, especially after you e-mail the wider blogosphere links to your complaint.
Protecting your site from direct video links is a lot easier than tangling with other bloggers, especially when they've been nothing but nice to you...

Update: Blaming the whole thing on a "hacker" is just lame. You sent the now deleted post to me (and many others) asking us to condemn Malkin since she hadn't responded to you. Well she has now, and you've suddenly gotten quiet. Dan, you've officially made a fool of yourself, as Paterico convincingly points out.

Here's the original complaint entry from Riehl World View...

Michele Malkin Linked To Male Stripper
Friday night visitors to Social Conservative Michele Malkin's web log were in for a shock when they clicked open a link purported to be to a breaking news video of Rapper Kanye West slamming President Bush at a Red Cross Fundraiser recently televised on NBC.

The link went to a satirical video of deposed Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein stripping, eventually down to nothing but a G-string with a mouse face covering his genitals.

The mix up came about because Michele Malkin, known for her strong stands on issues of morals, ethics and values, was, in effect, stealing band width and perceived credit for a news scoop from a fellow blogger.

AT 9:02 PM EST Friday night, soon after airing, a media colleague who was taping the fundraiser emailed me a copy of the video, well before it was even mentioned on breaking news site the Drudge Report, let alone Malkin's page. The video was posted promptly and a link emailed out to several fellow bloggers. As of now, 15 bloggers have track backed to the video appropriately, but not Michele Malkin. Also as of now, forty bloggers have tracked back to her original post.

Instead, Malkin gave a text only hat tip by name, not even mentioning the site where the video was breaking and hosted and proceeded to hot-link the 2MB video. Noticing the issue after Malkin sent a thank you saying she had "linked" the post, I immediately sent Malkin a polite email asking that she correct the likely mistake. The email drew no response.

As the evening went on I decided to change the name of the file, assuming a Malkin reader would advise her of the then dead link - which I tested. Instead, Malkin changed the name of the file in her link to the new file name and went right back to hot linking the news video a second time.

Remembering an incident where The Huffington Post had hot-linked a photo posted by Mike Krempasky at RedState.org. Krempasky's comments at the time:

Arianna, Arianna -- we're so glad you're here. But if you want to become the celebrity darling of the InterWeb -- how about not stealing and taking credit for the creative, investigative, and deliberative work from other, legitimate bloggers? Better yet, how about this: once you've taken an image and given no credit, why not rub salt in the wound and just go right ahead and hotlink it?

That's right, just steal bandwidth from the little guys. We'll roll over for you just like we were the California electorate. Just because you reportedly throw one heck of a cocktail party doesn't mean you've got this Internet thing licked.

I followed Mike's example. Krempasky altered the photo when the unethical practice went uncorrected, so I decided to do the same and changed relevant file names to send the link to the dancing Saddam video. The original breaking video is now entitled: "Please don't hotlink my video."

Rather than acknowledge the error, Michale Malkin chose to remove all mention of "Dan Riehl" and opted to link to CrooksandLiars, whose servers are now, in their words "maxed," perhaps in part due to the video posted well-after my breaking story, perhaps obtained from another source.

When Arianna Huffington perpetrated what is considered to be a serious ethical error among well-known bloggers she was reproached by many fellow bloggers on the center and right side of the blogosphere. What remains to be seen is if bloggers will stand on principle, or if the highly ranked Michele Malkin blog can dance away from its unethical practices unscathed.

At this point, in my view, Malkin has robbed a fellow blogger of credit and bandwidth associated with a breaking news event, since covered by almost every television network. And she did it to a previously absolutely collegial blogger who has linked her site, as well as her Immigration blog repeatedly.

Update: I've since been informed of the comment below posted by her on her website.

9:50am 9/3 update: The Kayne West video I originally linked to got hacked. Sincere apologies to everyone who got tricked into watching the wrong video. The link has now been corrected; the new video is courtesy of Crooks and Liars


Listed below are links to weblogs that reference The Kanye West Video Controversy:

» Random Numbers linked with Kanye West: A Brief Perspective.

» PUSHlogs linked with tHg News

» Michelle Malkin linked with KANYE WEST: BUSH-BASHING FOR $$$

» killrighty.net linked with I am not a hacker, thank you very much

» Patterico's Pontifications linked with Riehl Dishonesty

Comments (16)

My favorite part was when h... (Below threshold)

My favorite part was when he left a comment on my site excoriating me for being "obsessed" with him, instead of discussing the current news about Katrina and Rehnquist. Apparently, though I had already discussed these topics on my blog today, I'm not serious enough for Dan Riehl -- the guy whose stats depend on nonstop discussion of Natalee Holloway.

I confess that all of this ... (Below threshold)
Cardinals Nation:

I confess that all of this trackback, hotlink, text-hat-tip stuff is way too technical for me (heck, I have enough trouble ensuring my posts are spelled correctly), so I'd like to request some feedback to see if I understand what the fuss is about.

As near as I can understand: a problem was identified; a problem was corrected; an apology was issued; someone is being a bad sport for not accepting the apology.

How'd I do?

I can understand the confus... (Below threshold)

I can understand the confusion. Here's what happened in a nutshell:

Riehl asked Malkin to post a link. She did.

Then Riehl got pissed off that she did. Why? Hell if I know. He asked her to.

Then he changed the link so people coming from her site would see an embarrassing video.

Then he did a post bragging about it.

Then he thought better of it, and deleted the post -- and tried to blame the whole incident on a "hacker."

Then nobody believed him and decided he was full of shit.

Simple enough?

"Then he thought better of ... (Below threshold)

"Then he thought better of it, and deleted the post -- and tried to blame the whole incident on a "hacker.""

Patterico, I have a hard time beliving you're really that foolish - but the concept is growing on me.

It's quite straight-forward, really, several blogs were sent the same email - which from the adjusted editing I did, it appears Wizbang has now copied - or is mirroring - lol who knows. But it has 24 trackbacks from bloggers who link the post and not the video. Your insistence that I sent the video link alone is just one of many untruths in your rantings.

I sent Michelle a gracious thank you note for her link. If you read HER comments - it is she who thought the video was hacked, I never suggested any such thing. A troll from my web log masked an email as though it came from me and requested Michelle directly link the video, not the post. I did not know of that email when I suggested she was engaged in unethical linking the direct feed.

Immediately upon learning of that email I pulled my post, called her and emailed her but have yet to hear back. The name in the bogus email made it obvious to me and many of the 35k plus readers I have to know who the troll was, as he has been around for months.

Finally, the link was in no way pornographic in nature. You are behaving like a fool incapable of grasping the facts - and Wizbang is only acting out its old agenda as a result of my pointing out an issue with a post of theirs long ago as regards the NYTimes.

Hopefully you will be all good boys and enjoy many links in the future from Michelle - who I suspect has no idea of what you are up to, or about. But aren't you just so sweet up there on your white horse. I hope you are a better rider than you are a truth teller - frankly, Im embarassed for you. No wonder out courts are in such sad shape, assuming you are a prosecutor.

This is one case you've lost when it comes to principle as you failed to even comprehend the facts going in. Hopefully all your grandstanding will yield you some traffic, which it appears is what you are really about here. Good luck!

Dan,If it was obvi... (Below threshold)


If it was obvious to you who the troll was, then why did you accuse *me* of being the troll -- just because I didn't respond with lightning speed to an e-mail you sent to a Hotmail account I rarely read?

You have a way of overreacting to people who don't immediately respond to e-mails, as the incident with Malkin clearly shows.

Finally, the link was in no way pornographic in nature. You are behaving like a fool incapable of grasping the facts . . .

Why do you act as though I am continuing to claim that the video was "pornographic"? I don't remember if I *ever* said that, but I have certainly accepted your explanation that it wasn't as soon as I read it.

Your "explanation" doesn't make any sense, dude. How many e-mails were sent by the troll? One? Or two? How many times did she hot-link your video? One? Or two?

Answer me that.

See, maybe you could explain this stuff away if you had managed to successfully stuff your whiny post down the memory hole -- but you didn't. I tried to explain to you all night long that you hadn't. You didn't listen.

What I am about is honesty from bloggers, which you appear to lack. I have no idea whether I'll get traffic from my post exposing you, and I don't care, at all. If I were a traffic whore, I'd blog about Natalee Holloway -- which I never have, once.

More or less I'll agree her... (Below threshold)

More or less I'll agree here. I have to say, though, that I think it's bad form to link directly to a video on any other site unless you say whose site it is you're linking to - if you're going DIRECTLY to a file, of course. If the vid is embedded in a page that clearly lists where you are as a visitor, then it's not such a big deal.

As for the traffic stats, that does usually have a lot to do with it. All that said, I think if someone were to link to a video - hotlinked it still is - and not mention what they've done, I'm going to be ticked off about it, and will probably just take a step to let them know about it. If they "correct" the matter, then that's all fine and good. In any case, not all bloggers link directly to media files (though a lot do), and it's still uncouth or improper to do so. So here, it looks like both folks involved did something that was not so cool.

Going forward, I guess we all learn something from this type of experience.

I'm sick of the Natalie Hol... (Below threshold)

I'm sick of the Natalie Holloway piece of shit story.

Every time its on tv, I changed the channel. Every time I see it on the internet, I change the webpage.

Get it off my news and put up something RELEVANT.

Tom,Hopefully one ... (Below threshold)


Hopefully one of the things Dan will learn is not to e-mail a direct link to the video if he doesn't want people to link to it directly.

Oh, Dan:Your in... (Below threshold)

Oh, Dan:

Your insistence that I sent the video link alone is just one of many untruths in your rantings.

Show me where I said you only sent the video link alone. You keep saying that I have said things that I haven't. I said you sent her the video link. And I'm starting to think the story about the guy masking an e-mail as you is just a pathetic lie. I have seen *zero* evidence to back that up. I have updated my post accordingly.

Man, you're a piece of work.

Notice in the article by Da... (Below threshold)

Notice in the article by Dan linked to concerning Scared Monkeys use of chat room stats. He says it is unethical to count hits that are not on pages containing original writing by the blog owner.

Go to Dan's site. Click on his Site Meter icon and see how many go to read his "articles" compared to how many go to read his commentors postings on his Natalee Holloway discussion Forums. Far, far more than to see his articles. Click on the site meter for the year and note the curve around the Holloway disappearace compared to the rest of the year. Looks like folks go to read Dan's posters comments instead of his articles to me. Is this not the same thing he accuses Scared Monkeys of doing with their chat room stats?

I really don't know the answer to this and am curious if someone could explain it to me. Kevin, maybe you have time and would do so?

So Dan Riehl runs Riehl Wor... (Below threshold)
Sue Dohnim:

So Dan Riehl runs Riehl World and Crooks & Liars?

Or does someone else run Crooks & Liars, and that person embedded a direct link to the video on Riehl World and emailed Michelle and pointed her to it?

Help me out here, people, I'm blond at the roots.

I think both Malkin and Rie... (Below threshold)

I think both Malkin and Riehl/Dan engaged in bad etiquette in this situation. Note that I did not say INTENTIONALLY bad etiquette.

However, once noticed that one or both had a problem with the other's etiquette, requests were made and apologies/explanations offered and that should have been the end of this.

All the rest is just a bubbling over of other issues still present that some resent about others...which is bad etiquette of the as-yet-identified intentional kind, but certainly within anyone's privilege of writing about on their own blog.

About the hotlinking, it's bad etiquette to hotlink to ANY image file, video, music or .gif, .jpeg. If anyone does not know that (already) and hotlinks to any/all, an apology IS in order once it's identified. Unfortunately, some people know it's bad form and yet do it anyway. I'm just saying an apology should be the end of any issue like this unless someone continues to do the act after being asked to stop.

MOST bloggers know that hotlinking is very bad form. Those who don't, well, it's a mystery to me and an issue of their own conscience why they do it and attempt to make it someone else's problem when they get complaints about it.

It's a huge mystery who's a... (Below threshold)

It's a huge mystery who's at fault -- unless you think that liars tend to be the ones at fault. In that case, it's pretty easy to identify the party at fault: lying Dan Riehl.

I <a href="http://uisgop.bl... (Below threshold)

I saw it as it happened, and I saw that the Federalist Journal had posted an entry about the West statement... and I saw earlier that Young Nationalist had the video linked to from their home page (where I saved it to my hard drive, today). However, I wasn't aware that the issue of linking to that video had already evolved into an intra-Blogosphere dispute.

The weekend isn't even over yet, and all this has occurred. Things sure move fast in cyberspace.

And this week, it seems that things have been moving very fast in real-life as well.

Hard times...

this man is really sick. i... (Below threshold)

this man is really sick. i started going to his blog watching him play with first time bloggers. he would bring these naive people into his confidences under the guise of caring about the Natalee Holloway case, then make public spectacles of them, displaying and posting personal emails between them, and banning the poor folks. He would also do this with other bloggers. None of us "regular" people who just came there to read about a case knew what the hell this man was up to. Then it comes to this decennt woman, Michelle Malkin, and caput! You know now it cannot be all these other people.

Mr Riehl is a classic paranoid schizophrenic. I read I believe on Patterico that Riehl is 50 years old and never married. Gee I wonder why? So this is his whole life then. He says all the time on there that there are trolls attacking people. How much do you all want to bet that they are all him doing it? I hope someone busts him someday for it. This man has really hurt people and shamed them publicly for no apparent reason.

Anna,You are so ri... (Below threshold)


You are so right. I did not even think about how abused those dam discussion threads are. He really is a blog whore. Besides, I rather like meeting up with friends in the scared monkeys chat rooms. they are monitored and they don't have people being hurtful. and like others here have said it is not "all NH all the time" and that includes bashing her and her family as well.

Patterico, way to go. I love your site and read it all the time. Michelle Malkin is lucky to have a friend like you.

When the NH case goes away, no one will go to that other site and Mr Reihl will have a lot of time on his hands to do some serious serious soul searching.






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