2008 YouTube Is Racist! (Or, Re: Re: The Politics of Color-Balancing)
posted by March 7 at 14:35 PMon
Attention all you people who got up in arms about the Clinton campaign allegedly darkening Obama’s skin and widening his nose in an attack ad. (Including, sort of, me—although, if this is any defense, I was just linking, not fuming.)
Kevin Drum at the Washington Monthly has a must-read explanation of why the “Hillary is a racist who will stop at nothing!” meme completely misses the real culprit: the sinister forces of YouTube compression.
Over the past few days there’s been a huge fracas over accusations that Hillary Clinton’s campaign deliberately darkened Barack Obama’s face in an ad they ran in Texas. It started with a post over at Daily Kos on Tuesday and has been spread far and wide since then.
The problem is that it’s impossible to compare color tones using YouTube clips because their compression process doesn’t preserve color fidelity. However, FactCheck.org got hold of a high-quality recording of the ad as it appeared on station KCEN in Waco, Texas, and then compared it to MSNBC’s streaming version of the debate from which the clip was taken… In the ad version, Obama’s face has been desaturated (i.e., there’s less color tone) but it doesn’t look any darker than the original. Nor has his face been widened to make Obama’s nose more prominent, as the original posters also suggested. That was yet another YouTube artifact.
From FactCheck.org, here’s the YouTube clip:
Here’s the ad from the media player on Clinton’s web site:
And here’s the ad as it appeared on television in Texas: