What a Leaked 'Today Show' Clip Taught Us About Mankind's Progress

"What is Internet, anyway?" asked Bryant Gumbel

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Last week, a fascinating video was leaked from The Today Show archives circa 1994. It featured off-air footage of Katie Couric and Bryant Gumbel struggling to comprehend what the "Internet" was and how it worked.

"What is Internet anyway?" Gumbel pondered. "You don't need a phone line to operate Internet?" asked a puzzled Couric. The video was taken down quickly but not before others duplicated it and distributed it widely.

Now the NBC employee who leaked the video has been fired, tweets Rob Pegoraro at The Washington Post. The leaker's swift dismissal is endearing him to the hearts of many who see him as a kind of cultural archaeologist. Here's the video followed by its fervent supporters:

  • This Video Was Incredibly Inspiring, writes Jon Bershad at Mediaite:
I don’t want to suddenly start sounding like Julian Assange all of a sudden, but people deserved to see it. Yes, the first reaction upon viewing the video was to laugh at how dumb the hosts sound to our 2011 ears, but most people will recognize, after thinking about it, that this video is one of the best proof of just how far our society has come in recent years. When you watch that video, you can’t help but realize that there are millions and millions of things that we take for granted that used to be absolutely impossible and you can’t help but feel proud for the human race. And, as we all know, that’s not something we get to do that often.

I know this sounds completely pretentious, but it’s true. That video, silly as it may seem, is important.
The video went viral because it's a human interest sort of thing -- a reminder of how quickly the internet went from something people didn't understand at all, to something that's central to so many people's lives...
This whole thing reminds of the PR debacle by Best Buy last year when it decided to fire the guy who had made some (quite funny) satirical videos about dealing with customers at a store like Best Buy. After loud public outcry, Best Buy was eventually forced to back down, but it was really too late.
  • We're With the Leaker, writes William Wei at Business Insider: "Why did NBC feel compelled to fire the guy over this? The video does no harm at all to the news anchors, and it could even be considered an actual viral promotion for the Today Show. NBC blew it with this one.
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