Behind the missing SNL bailout video

One of the highlights of last weekend’s Saturday Night Live episode — apart from the brilliant (as always) Sarah Palin impersonation by Tina Fey — was a clip in which George Bush, Nancy Pelosi and Barney Frank talk about the Wall Street bailout and who is to blame, and then a succession of pathetic characters tell their stories. I recall seeing a Twitter message (I think it was from Mark Hopkins of Mashable) on Monday about how the clip was nowhere to be found. I didn’t think that much of it, because I assumed NBC had pulled it from YouTube for the usual reasons.

As it turns out, however, NBC pulled the video for legal reasons — in a nutshell, I think, it was afraid it was going to get sued. Although there have been a number of dark whispers from right-wing types such as Michelle Malkin about how the skit was yanked because it criticized Democrats like Pelosi and Frank (as well as equally dark whispers about how it was pulled because it criticized billionaire George Soros), according to NBC the skit was removed and re-edited because it “didn’t meet quality standards.” A website has since appeared that has the original clip, as well as a number of news stories and blog posts about it (it has a .cx domain name, which — in case you’re wondering — belongs to Christmas Island).

Regardless of all the conspiracy theories, it seems pretty obvious that the text that appeared on screen when characters representing Herb and Marion Sandler told their story (the super at the bottom said “People who should be shot”) was a big part of the problem, since it is missing from the re-edited version (which I have embedded to the right). So is the part where they thank Barney Frank for turning a blind eye to their “fraudulent activities.” That’s a fairly clear case of slander, since there hasn’t been any evidence of fraud involving the Sanders, who sold their Golden West Financial savings & loan business to Wachovia for $24-billion.

In retrospect, I guess it’s not surprising that NBC re-edited the clip. What I find fascinating is that there’s very little point in doing so, since the original and the story behind the removal are both so readily available.

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