Friday, June 7, 2019

PragerU's Fundraising Scam

Allow me to introduce a very conservative value: The right of corporations to operate free of government interference.
Prager University
With great fanfare, Prager University (which, of course, isn't a university) has notified me: We’re suing YouTube for censoring conservative content. They figure that they can raise more money off of this than they will expend, or have expended, in legal fees:
The email is signed by Dennis Prager and I don't know what the hell he is saying? Does he? In conservative circles people are convinced that the Southern Poverty Law Center is a radical left-wing organization staffed by evil card-carrying commies. Some of the same people also believe that Trump is a selfless and honest servant of the people.

Prager's intended inference (although the wording is ambiguous) appears to be that PragerU is listed as a hate group. It is not.

Furthermore, Prager is suggesting that the SPLC did something in response to the filing of the lawsuit. That is also untrue. The right wing use the SPLC to make people angry over something else.

As for the lawsuit, this case was dismissed in March, 2018. The judge arrived at the obvious conclusion that YouTube did not qualify as state actor subject to the First Amendment by creating a public forum for speech.

Judge Koh's decision was appealed to the Ninth Circuit in April. 2018. The appeal is still in process awaiting oral argument which will take place in Seattle in September, 2019. The last docket entry noted the receipt of an amicus brief from the Computer & Communications Industry Association on May 23, 2019.

The only remaining legal fees are for oral argument. I figure that sometime in 2020 the Ninth Circuit will rule. If the PragerU folks do not like the ruling they can appeal to the Supreme Court which could decide whether or not to hear the case circa 2021.

In 2017, the Prager University Foundation took in $10 million and had a surplus of $2 million. The CEO, Marissa Streit, was paid $400 thousand. Dennis Prager is not listed as a board member. In 2017 they paid Browne George Ross $200,000 in legal fees. The round number indicates that this was probably a retainer which makes sense because the case against YouTube was filed in October, 2017.

Prager prattles on:
This censorship by YouTube and Google is the same kind of censorship that we’ve seen on college campuses for years.

But this time, it is FAR MORE DANGEROUS, because the Internet is where the world — especially young people — go to get informed.

Can you imagine if the Left owned the Internet the way they own our universities and drive the mainstream media?

If Google and YouTube gatekeepers have all the power to censor ideas they don’t like, the ramifications will be immense in 2020 and beyond, which is why we must fight back today.
Allow me to introduce a very conservative value: The right of corporations to operate free of government interference.

Prager is asking the government, through the judiciary, to force YouTube to alter its terms of service. No one is forcing Prager to offer its five-minute videos on YouTube. It is not censorship. It is an acceptable use policy and terms of service. YouTube's platform, bandwidth and servers — YouTube's rules.

Prager wants the largest possible audience because PragerU has become an invaluable tool for spreading right wing propaganda. Some of the content is very offensive:
Screen capture from a PragerU anti-Muslim video
Prager's post reliably concludes with:
We have gone from censorship to discrimination. Oddly enough, the people fighting the hardest in this country to combat discrimination are at the afore-smeared Southern Poverty Law Center. Nevertheless, were Prager to succeed then this cranky Jewish queer is going to demand access to the Daily Stormer to express my views.

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