Peter Kafka

Recent Posts by Peter Kafka

Now on YouTube: David Letterman’s Amazing Extortion Video

This is the way the Internet is supposed to work: Something amazing happens on TV on Thursday night and everyone talks about it, and watches it, on the Web on Friday.

Today’s example: David Letterman’s startling admission, broadcast on his CBS show last night, that a network employee had tried to extort him, using evidence that Letterman had sex with women who worked on his show.

That’s something you’re going to want to watch, right? And sure enough, the world’s largest video site obliges. Google’s (GOOG) YouTube is packed with clips of Letterman’s statement, which runs about 10 minutes.

None of them are supposed to be there, of course. And since CBS (CBS) has a partnership with YouTube (which it doesn’t like to talk about, but that is apparently a success for the network), YouTube will be playing whack-a-mole with uploaders for the rest of the day. They’ll throw the clips up, and the site, using its Content ID program, will hunt for them and take them down.

At some point it’s possible that CBS itself will put up an authorized clip on YouTube. But given that it hasn’t done so on its own “Late Show” site already and that the network tends to be reluctant to put its best stuff on the Web under normal circumstances, I wouldn’t hold my breath.

Anyway, here’s one of the many clips, which tend to feature crummy video but acceptable audio. If it goes away, you’ll be able to find more here.

It will be interesting to see how this plays on the site. My hunch: Given that Letterman is 63 years old and that the clip only involves him talking about the extortion attempt (as opposed to, say, jumping up on stage in the middle of an awards show), this may not be one of YouTube’s biggest hits. But we’ll see.


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I think the NSA has a job to do and we need the NSA. But as (physicist) Robert Oppenheimer said, “When you see something that is technically sweet, you go ahead and do it and argue about what to do about it only after you’ve had your technical success. That is the way it was with the atomic bomb.”

— Phil Zimmerman, PGP inventor and Silent Circle co-founder, in an interview with Om Malik