What began as a feud between Vox video producer Carlos Maza and political comedian Steven Crowder came to an explosive climax on Wednesday when YouTube banned thousands of accounts from its monetary partnership program.
Maza, best known for his YouTube series, “Strikethrough,” levied a long Twitter thread at YouTube over what he alleged was homophobic and racist harassment on the part of Crowder, last Thursday. Crowder, of “change my mind” fame, frequently challenges and insults those he disagrees with politically but was originally found to be within YouTube’s terms of service, on Tuesday.
Whether by coincidence, as YouTube news anchor Phillip DeFranco alleged, or by design, YouTube announced it would be reevaluating the policies Crowder seems to have narrowly skirted, in a Wednesday blog post. On the same day YouTube announced a massive purge of content creators who produce content distasteful to the site, according to The Independent.
Although YouTube removed hundreds of supremacist and conspiracy channels from its monetization program on Wednesday, Crowder was also hit for his off-color jokes. YouTube’s blog notes that the company will be moving to limit their support of those who “repeatedly brush up against [their] hate speech policies” and “raising up authoritative content.” YouTube’s definition of authoritative content notably includes NBC News, a part owner and $200 million investor in Vox.
We reached out to Crowder for comment amid the controversy:
“First off, this isn’t just “Carlos Maza”. This is a concerted effort by Vox and company, one of the largest and most powerful media corporations on the internet wanting to silence voices that are effective in combatting[sic] their misinformation. And now the big-boy bully tactics extends to LATE NIGHT HOSTS they don’t like. Listen, rebuttals to Vox account for less than 2% of our total content, and the comedic jabs account for less than 2% of THAT. But if people want to believe that a person who identifies themselves as “@GayWonk” or a “queer producer” is so horrified that someone would ever insinuate that he’s gay and/or queer… well it’s still not quite calling our sitting President’s mouth a “cock-holster” or his daughter a “feckless cunt” on national television, but I’ll grant you them[sic] semblance of a point. I believe in more voices, not less. I believe in more dialogue, not shutting it down before it begins. I believe in MORE laughter, and less gasps. I believe that if something offends you, you should change the channel. But hey, that’s me. Mr. Traditionalist!” -- Steven Crowder to TLR
Crowder is not alone in being offended by his company being on YouTube’s naughty list. Editor-in-chief of News2Share, Ford Fischer, was also caught in YouTube’s wide censorship net.
Fischer is night-and-day dissimilar to Crowder. Where Crowder is a late-night style comedian and provocateur, Fischer is a non-partisan filmographer and on-the-ground journalist who’s footage has been featured on ABC, NBC, CNN, Fox News and dozens of documentaries.
We reached out to Fischer as well.
When asked about his work and relation to Crowder, Fischer told TLR, “Youtube[sic] hitting him and I in the same way at once paints a false equivalence between him and I”
“I’ve never crossed paths with Crowder. Him tweeting about me today was the first time we’ve ever interacted in any way,” Fischer continued, “In short, this cuts my income severely. I don’t have any salary. My baseline budget to do this work is ads from YouTube and donations on Patreon. I also make licensing fees from outlets and films that use my work but that’s much more inconsistent and less reliable.”
Within minutes of @YouTube's announcement of a new purge it appears they caught my outlet, which documents activism and extremism, in the crossfire.
I was just notified my entire channel has been demonetized. I am a journalist whose work there is used in dozens of documentaries. pic.twitter.com/HscG2S4dWh
— Ford Fischer (@FordFischer) June 5, 2019
Carlos Maza, for his part, seems genuinely apologetic to Fischer but continues to rail against YouTube on Twitter for not completely removing Crowder from the site. Maza has accused Crowder of creating content that is “white supremacist,” an epithet Maza is not shy about ascribing to noted republican pundit, Tucker Carlson, in his Twitter description.
YouTube released a blog post to address the day’s confusion, late on Wednesday. As the sun rises on a new day, however, it is clear that the new post does little to elucidate the line between acceptability and harassment or hate-speech.
.@YouTube's statement on @scrowder: OK, we admit he didn't violate our standards, but people were mad at us, so we just backfilled a rationale for demonetizing him with Orwellian doublespeak. pic.twitter.com/5c63U77uB6
— Ben Shapiro (@benshapiro) June 6, 2019
TLR reached out to Vox, Carlos Maza, and YouTube, individually for comment. Unfortunately they did not respond in time for publication.
Follow me on Twitter @gavinphanson.