TED organizers invited a multimillionaire Seattle venture capitalist named Nick Hanauer – the first nonfamily investor in Amazon.com – to give a speech on March 1 at their TED University conference. Inequality was the topic – specifically, Hanauer’s contention that the middle class, and not wealthy innovators like himself, are America’s true “job creators.”…
You can’t find that speech online. [Note: it has now been independently published on YouTube.] TED officials told Hanauer initially they were eager to distribute it. “I want to put this talk out into the world!” one of them wrote him in an e-mail in late April. But early this month they changed course, telling Hanauer that his remarks were too “political” and too controversial for posting.
The National Journal and Hanauer present it as a case of censorship. But TED’s lead curator Chris Anderson responded in a blog post, saying: “Our policy is to post only talks that are truly special. And we try to steer clear of talks that are bound to descend into the same dismal partisan head-butting people can find every day elsewhere in the media.” He went on to offer this analogy: Sometimes you send an op-ed to The New York Times and they don’t publish it. Does that mean your ideas are being censored? Or does it maybe mean your ideas aren’t very well put? Or did someone else do a better job of framing the argument?
One way or another, TED didn’t see Hanauer’s ideas as being “worth spreading.” The video now appears on YouTube. You can watch it above and decide what you think: Censorship or selectivity? Or, let me add a third option: a desire to please anyone and everyone at the expense of opening deeply-held beliefs and oft-stated mantras to real debate?