Sex, lies and time-shifted YouTube videos

Political sex scandals and YouTube don't mix, decides U.S. Supreme Court

As if the whole John Edwards farce couldn't get any more ridiculous, now one of his ex-aides, Andrew Young, who also happens to be touting his tell-all book about Edwards, has announced that he 'found' a video tape of, shall we say, a highly personal nature featuring Edwards and Rielle Hunter, Edwards' infamous and now presumably ex-mistress and mother of one of his children.

Young, who Edwards at one time persuaded to publicly claim to be the child's father, presents himself as having a high moral stance on the matter of the tape: "I think it's a shame people are focusing on this. I couldn't have told this story without including the sex tape. We've been offered gigantic amounts of money. And we've said no." His wife added "It was disappointing to see the person you had such hopes and dreams for be so careless."

And, of course, the whole mess has gone into meltdown with, of course, Hunter recently filing a court motion against Young seeking the return of a number of items including the aforementioned video.

There's a good chance that this will result in some ugly legal drama and if it does, wouldn't you want to watch what actually happens in court? Move over Judge Judy and Judge Wapner, this will be uber-compelling, real life drama with famous people, not just some shlubs from the boonies arguing over who owns a lawnmower.

Now, most court cases are open to the public; you can walk right into the courtroom, sit down, and watch the fun. That's great but if you can't get there for some silly reason, like you have to work for a living or its on the other side of the country, then you'll have to rely on the press who can't take photos. Sure, they can draw a cartoon but that's usually a poor substitute for a photographic image and pretty much ensures that wily editors and artists can put a spin on the people and events involved.

So when the Chief U.S. District Judge, Judge Vaughn Walker, who was assigned to the Proposition 8 trial (the California case that will determine whether the ban of same-sex marriages in the state is constitutional) ruled in favor of permitting YouTube to broadcast the trial we were moving into new judicial territory.

Proposition 8, lest you have missed the furor, was the bill that banned same-sex marriage in California. Those opposing the bill and fighting for its overturn were also those who were for the YouTube broadcast.

Somewhat predictably those against the YouTube broadcast were those who support and are defending Prop. 8. They argue that they believe video coverage would cause witnesses testifying in favor of the ban on gay marriage "irreparable harm."

Inexplicably, an emergency appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court by the defenders of Prop. 8 won the day and time-shifted YouTube video will now not be allowed.

The Supremes, in a fit of who knows what, refused to explain their reasoning and, I would suggest, we, the people, are effectively being excluded from the decision making process.

We can only hope that the Supremes will eventually allow broadcasting by YouTube and any other services and the sausage making of the law will be exposed to all as it happens. And we'll get to see the likes of Andrew Young and Rielle Hunter slug it out. That will be TV worth watching.

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Mark Gibbs

Network World

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