Hulu, it turns out, isn't merely the straightforward online television archive you thought it was. Roll over some of the videos, and you'll notice tags that could double as political commentary, offending many.
Big Journalism, run by conservative media mogul Andrew Breitbart, has called attention today to the "disturbing" tags on Hulu's Fox News channel, Dana Loesch writing up the story. Hulu is co-owned by NBC Universal, the Fox Entertainment Group, and ABC.
When you scroll over Special Report With Brett Braier, for instance, you see tags that include "biased reporting" and "right wing propaganda."
When you scroll over a video on President Obama's inauguration, covered by Fox, tags include "communist" and "black family in government housing"--a line that stirred up controversy when it was used in messages sent on Alaskan government email accounts back in 2008.
What explains the tags? We submit four theories for your review.
THEORY #1: HULU IS FULL OF LIBERALS WHO HATE FOX NEWS
"Is Hulu trying to project that they believe Fox believes that the Obamas are a 'black family in government housing?'" asks Big Government's Dana Loesch.
THEORY #2: HULU IS FULL OF CONSERVATIVES WHO HATE OBAMA
"Or," Loesch continues, "do they believe that the First Family is a 'black family in government housing?'" She concludes that either way, the tags seem "awfully racially tinged."
THEORY #3: HULU IS FULL OF EQUAL-OPPORTUNITY HATERS
The type of tagging highlighted by Big Journalism isn't limited to Fox News videos. On Hulu's MSNBC channel, for example, a video on the Obama administration includes the tag "socialism."
THEORY #4: HULU'S VIEWERS HATE FOX NEWS, HATE OBAMA, OR ARE EQUAL OPPORTUNITY HATERS
A video on Hulu's site suggests that Hulu users are the ones who tag content. A commenter and Hulu user at Big Journalism corroborates this theory. "I am more than willing to jump on an organization whose staff attacks us (Defund NPR NOW!)," the commenter argues, "but this is not the case here. Hulu has a lot of small-time independent lefty films, and we should work to bring more conservative media to it. But honestly I t think branding Hulu for the shenanigans of their users is a bit misleading."
Dana Loesch, who is awaiting confirmation from Hulu as to the tags' origin, responds that if indeed users are responsible for the tags, "it seems that the course of action shouldn’t be tag wars between conservatives and progressives, but rather a legitimate way to vet user classification of Hulu content. I also agree with the comments that call for conservatives themselves to take up the mantle of contributing content, via film, etc., to Hulu."
We've reached out to Hulu for an explanation and will update if we hear back.
A Hulu spokesperson tells the Wire that all tags on Hulu are user-generated. "Any user can use any tags to classify videos for themselves," the spokesperson says, "but we only publish tags that are broadly useful for discovery. When we're made aware of offensive, spam, or highly subjective tags, we remove them." Hulu is in the process of removing the tags cited in Big Journalism's story.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.