NBC Fires Guy Who Posted The Bryant Gumbel/Katie Couric 'What Is Internet' Video

from the what-is-nbc dept

Like a bunch of sites, we posted about the amusing video that had been posted to YouTube, that showed Katie Couric and Bryant Gumbel, back in 1994, very confused about the internet. The video itself went viral pretty quickly. It was just sort of cute. I don't think anyone posting the video was doing it in a mean way -- it was just funny, and served as a good reminder of just how quickly things have changed. Just about the time that we posted the video, the original video was pulled down from YouTube by the guy who posted it. What quickly came out, via Rob Pegoraro, was that the guy who posted it worked at NBC, but was fired for posting the video. The guy doesn't want to talk about it beyond that, and NBC doesn't appear too keen on commenting on the whole situation, but, really NBC? Is that company so ridiculously thin-skinned that it can't laugh at itself? Nothing about the use of the video was mean-spirited or harmful to NBC. 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. We all forget what it was like when we first discovered the internet (at least those of us who grew up without the internet), and the video sort of brought all that back. I'd argue that NBC firing the guy for posting this video to YouTube suggests an organization even more confused about the internet than either Couric or Gumbel in this clip (which, yes, is still widely available):
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.

Update: Even more ridiculous: as noted in the comments, the folks on The Today Show actually played this video and laughed about it the other day, so now I'll embed it below directly from NBC:


Reader Comments (rss)

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    Marcus Carab (profile), Feb 4th, 2011 @ 7:56am

    NBC might not be specifically embarrassed or angry about this video - it may simply be a matter of strict internal rules about raiding the archives and posting things online which, given the attitude of media companies, is not too surprising.

     

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      Anonymous Coward, Feb 4th, 2011 @ 9:00am

      Re:

      When you remember that NBC(the national network) is part of the NBCUniversal, LLC media company, no this isn't surprising at all.

       

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      Anonymous Coward, Feb 4th, 2011 @ 11:11am

      Re:

      Don't try to confuse Mike with the obvious. He would rather come up with some evil tin foil hat style conspiracy.

      Guy put copyright material online without permission. End.

      Too bad Mike can't see that.

       

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        Marcus Carab (profile), Feb 4th, 2011 @ 11:37am

        Re: Re:

        Can you please shut up? I was just trying to raise a slightly different way of looking at what happened - I felt perhaps it was a bit soon to jump to the conclusion that this had something to do with the specific video that was posted. Neither you nor I know for sure what happened - which is exactly the second word in my comment was "might"

        I wasn't trying to start a fight, I was trying to start a conversation. Personally I still agree with a lot of the observations in this post, just not all of them. Why does it have to instantly become another game of attacking Mike?

        You really are a child.

         

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          Rose M. Welch (profile), Feb 4th, 2011 @ 11:46am

          Re: Re: Re:

          Thank you.

           

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          Anonymous Coward, Feb 4th, 2011 @ 11:50am

          Re: Re: Re:

          Marcus, if you don't like it, don't read it. Welcome to free speech.

          Mike puts out these silly claims, they are easy to bat down. If even someone as feeble as you can think of it, it must be obvious.

           

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            Marcus Carab (profile), Feb 4th, 2011 @ 12:05pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            Oh I am all for free speech. I just prefer the company of people who exercise that right for the sake of intelligent, useful speech rather than whiny, counterproductive speech. I was hoping maybe you'd go find some other kids to play with but suit yourself.

             

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              Anonymous Coward, Feb 4th, 2011 @ 12:12pm

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

              Oh god Marcus, how deep and meaningful your comments are. I notice you only post after school. I wonder why?

               

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                Marcus Carab (profile), Feb 4th, 2011 @ 12:46pm

                Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                Hehe. Ever heard of time zones there smart guy? I pretty much only post from work. I guess it was dumb of me to expect intelligent commentary from someone who thinks it's the same time everywhere in the world. Anyway, I'm done with this now. Bye!

                 

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                Marcus Carab (profile), Feb 4th, 2011 @ 12:46pm

                Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                Hehe. Ever heard of time zones there smart guy? I pretty much only post from work. I guess it was dumb of me to expect intelligent commentary from someone who thinks it's the same time everywhere in the world. Anyway, I'm done with this now. Bye!

                 

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    Chronno S. Trigger (profile), Feb 4th, 2011 @ 8:24am

    More telling then damning.

    While the three on the screen have no idea what the Internet was, the guy behind the camera seems to have somewhat of a clue. The problem comes that he didn't know how to describe it to people who don't know. How do you describe the Internet to someone who's only been use to one way media? This video just shows that not much has really changed. There are still a lot of people who have no idea what the Internet is.

    I think that may be the next thing I wright up in my blog; Why people still have problems figuring out computers.

     

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      Jay (profile), Feb 4th, 2011 @ 8:57am

      Re: More telling then damning.

      I remember a couple who thought the CD writer drive was a soda can holder...

       

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        Chronno S. Trigger (profile), Feb 4th, 2011 @ 9:12am

        Re: Re: More telling then damning.

        User: "My cup holder is broken."
        Tech: "Cup holder?"
        User: "Yeah, normally I push the button and the cup holder comes out."
        Tech: *Facepalm*

         

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          Gwiz (profile), Feb 4th, 2011 @ 9:24am

          Re: Re: Re: More telling then damning.

          There was also a joke program circulating around back then that basically said "Please accept this free gift of a coffee holder for being such a valued customer of (blah blah). Please press the button to receive your gift." And out popped your CD tray.

           

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          PRMan, Feb 4th, 2011 @ 9:53am

          Re: Re: Re: More telling then damning.

          I told this story at CompUSA in Fountain Valley, CA (the first time I heard it, before it was popular outside tech circles) and they all pointed to the guy who took that call. One of their techs confirmed that he had indeed taken that exact phone call about the cup holder being broken.

           

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            ZigZagLens (profile), Feb 4th, 2011 @ 1:46pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re: More telling then damning.

            Ah. So I can be assured it's true because a guy I don't know told me that he told the story at a store, and the people he told it to pointed out a guy who told you he himself took the call. And here I was thinking it might have been an urban legend. Boy, do I feel stupid!

             

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          Marcus Carab (profile), Feb 4th, 2011 @ 11:41am

          Re: Re: Re: More telling then damning.

          A tech support friend of mine managed to top that famous story with something that happened to him only a couple years ago.

          He got an extremely baffling call from someone who claimed "Print Screen" wasn't working. I'll save you the lengthy exchange that was necessary to figure out what was going on and skip to the discovery.

          Turns out someone told him "print screen takes a picture of whatever is on the screen" and misinterpreted that in an astonishingly stupid way: he was holding a printed document against the monitor and pressing Print Screen, thinking that it would transfer the document into his computer.

          I swear I'm not making this up...

           

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        Angela, Feb 5th, 2011 @ 11:42am

        Re: Re: More telling then damning.

        Not a bad idea; a soda can holder for CD drive considering mine's broken anyway. :)

         

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        anothermike, Feb 7th, 2011 @ 2:17pm

        Re: Re: More telling then damning.

        I always heard it as a coffee cup holder.

        What about the one about the coin-operated computer? "Dear Valued Customer, why does your computer case rattle like that?" The dial-up ISP charged by the minute so putting the money through a case slot was obviously how you paid for connectivity. Like a pay phone. The tech pulled enough loose change out of the case to pay for the service call.

        Or the one about the customer that needed to bring their computer system into the repair shop, but didn't know anything about the different parts? The customer brings in the monitor on the first trip, keyboard and mouse on the second trip. By the fifth or sixth trip they've reassembled a functioning computer system at the repair shop without too many duplicate components.

         

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      Huh?, Feb 4th, 2011 @ 10:11am

      Re: More telling then damning.

      Write, not wright

       

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      Kathy, Feb 4th, 2011 @ 4:27pm

      Re: More telling then damning.

      You use the word "interactive." Duh.

       

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    coco Was Screwed, Feb 4th, 2011 @ 8:35am

    Seriously, in 94 nobody knew what the internet was, the only way to access it back then (til 93 when mosaic came out) was delphi via a text based bulletin board like system.

    Can't say I blame the show for asking the question.

     

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    Tor (profile), Feb 4th, 2011 @ 8:56am

    I'd argue that NBC firing the guy for posting this video to YouTube suggests an organization even more confused about the internet than either Couric or Gumbel in this clip

    One just got to love that quote. Spot on!

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 4th, 2011 @ 8:56am

    This is just another abuse of outrageously long copy protection laws being used to stifle free speech and not to promote the progress like it was intended.

     

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    codeslave (profile), Feb 4th, 2011 @ 8:56am

    The lesson here is never make either a celebrity or a large media company look in a way that someone, somewhere might interpret as bad.

     

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    NBC Watcher, Feb 4th, 2011 @ 8:59am

    Weird

    I'm especially confused, since they actually showed and laughed about the clip on the Today Show a few days ago. I mean, I'm sure that the editorial folks at Today have nothing to do with the people who made the firing decision, but it's awkward that the larger company could laugh about it on the air while axing the guy behind the scenes.

     

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    weneedhelp (profile), Feb 4th, 2011 @ 9:00am

    NBC

    NoBodyCares.

     

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    Gwiz (profile), Feb 4th, 2011 @ 9:09am

    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.

    I want them Internets! With lots of G. B.'s. And those Y-Fi's. A white one.

     

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    Jason, Feb 4th, 2011 @ 9:25am

    Oh, that was an NBC clip?

    Not a regular watcher of the station (there are no NBC airwaves that reach my house, and for some reason networks are not simulcasting online), I had no idea that the clip was from NBC. There may have been a logo at the bottom when I watched it, but those sorts of things go readily unnoticed. However, this story puts 2 and 2 together for me and solidifies another example of NBC douchebaggery (ahem...CONAN)

     

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    TheRemains (profile), Feb 4th, 2011 @ 9:31am

    I care

    Because I'm a care bear

     

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    Steve R. (profile), Feb 4th, 2011 @ 10:15am

    The SyFy Channel Demonstrates That This Normal

    The SyFy Channel, a unit of NBC/Universal, routinely cancels the good stuff without even providing a reasonable notice, but continues to finds ways to generate horrendously bad programming. How pitiful, prime time wrestling on a channel supposedly dedicated to Science Fiction!!!

     

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      Gwiz (profile), Feb 4th, 2011 @ 10:29am

      Re: The SyFy Channel Demonstrates That This Normal

      How pitiful, prime time wrestling on a channel supposedly dedicated to Science Fiction!!!

      Well...they are half right...it is fiction.

       

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      Anonymous Coward, Feb 4th, 2011 @ 11:42am

      Re: The SyFy Channel Demonstrates That This Normal

      Not to mention their often horrifically awful original movies.

      I'm down to watching just Ghosthunters, and that's more as a travel show than anything (they go to some really cool places).

       

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        jshubbub, Feb 4th, 2011 @ 10:01pm

        Re: Re: The SyFy Channel Demonstrates That This Normal

        I'm glad I'm not the only one to notice this phenomenon. Sure, cancel Caprica but produce Mega-Python vs. Gatoroid. Meanwhile, show Ghosthunters ("We really don't understand much of what's happening. Therefore, ghosts!") and WWE Wrestling with the proverbial straight face. Ridiculous.

         

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          Anonymous Coward, Feb 4th, 2011 @ 10:03pm

          Re: Re: Re: The SyFy Channel Demonstrates That This Normal

          Wow they cancelled Caprica? Seriously? That didn't last long.

           

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          Anonymous Coward, Feb 5th, 2011 @ 12:05pm

          Re: Re: Re: The SyFy Channel Demonstrates That This Normal

          Lol - they should retitle Ghosthunters to 'Did You Hear That?!'

          We bust on it all the time but it is entertaining, and I give them props for tromping around in the dark, esp. the cameramen. They are likable and want to believe, that's cool. And you can't go wrong with the Scooby Doo spooky house/castle/restaurant/hospital/prison formula.

          I've toured Eastern State Penitentiary several times - it's creepy in full daylight! And fascinating.

          The Soup skewered the movie you mention - that tells one the content is pretty bad, NBC.

          I've never forgiven them for cancelling Farscape.

           

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          anothermike, Feb 7th, 2011 @ 2:56pm

          Re: Re: Re: The SyFy Channel Demonstrates That This Normal

          It's all about the audience numbers and the money those numbers bring in from advertisers. Caprica is very popular with its core fans, but there's not enough of them to pay the bills. Meanwhile, Mega-Python Vs Gatoroid pulled in a record-setting audience; one of the biggest ever for a Syfy Original Movie.
          About the wrestling thing, I thought maybe the sci-fi tie-in was that they all had superpowers but no. After tweeting with Craig Engler, I found out Syfy just wanted that audience for added flavor. The hope was that they'd branch out to see what else was on the channel. And it appears they have, making up a good chunk of the Original Movies audience but aren't much for the hard fiction series (-es. serieses? serie?).

           

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    Mark Wickens, Feb 4th, 2011 @ 12:57pm

    Kate Couric also tweeted it.

     

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    StewartIII, Feb 4th, 2011 @ 1:15pm

    ChickaBOOMer: Steve Burke's Throwing His Weight Around

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 4th, 2011 @ 2:46pm

    I think more hilarious and tragic element of this story is that, 17 years later, these people are still on the Today Show.

     

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    Lawrence D'Oliveiro, Feb 4th, 2011 @ 6:22pm

    Laughs Belatedly At Family Guy “Gumbel 2 Gumbel” Sequence

    So that’s who they were...

     

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    Mal, Feb 4th, 2011 @ 8:17pm

    The firing of the person who ran that wonderful vidio of katie, Gumbell not knowing about the internet!

    He was fired for this? It was a great walk down memory lane(not that long ago)and made us laugh at how it took awhile for us to catch on...and still catching on over and over again. All of my friends over 50 really enjoyed this.
    This person lost his job and that racist on Cnn who drives cars, still has his job! No justice in this crazy dance of life on planet earth.

     

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    ambrose, Feb 4th, 2011 @ 8:58pm

    erm, APPLES!!! ::fmmmshrmmmm::

     

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    fgoodwin (profile), Feb 4th, 2011 @ 9:29pm

    NBC, like all media outlets, is falling all over each other praising Julian Assange and wikileaks, but when one of their own posts internal info on the web, all that praise goes out the window.

    Hypocrites . . .

     

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    Johnny Internet, Feb 4th, 2011 @ 10:02pm

    What Is Internet?

    I love how confused Katie Couric Looks. What is internet???

     

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    Brian, Feb 4th, 2011 @ 10:05pm

    WOW!

    It's amazing that it was just a short time ago that people didn't even know what the internet was about. Now, you can't do hardly anything without it.

    Oh how the world has changed!

    Brian M Connole
    HCG Diet 411

     

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    TeresaR, Feb 4th, 2011 @ 10:17pm

    I was in Europe when the internet hit,

    and when I got back, I was watching tv with my coworkers, and I said "What is all this .com stuff I keep seeing on the tv?" So the websites were starting to pop enough to be on advertisements and such. He explained it was the internet. Well, I went home and signed up for Prodigy (for those who don't know, it was a dial up access service similar to aol). I pulled up my first website and stared at it for an hour. "What's so big about this?" I thought. I didn't understand that you needed to click on those little blue links. Finally I slid the mouse over one, and the cursor changed. I clicked. AHHH Now I see, I thought.

    In less than 3 months I had created my own website for genealogy research, which later was listed in the NY Times. It's amazing how far we have come!

     

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    Angela, Feb 4th, 2011 @ 10:37pm

    NBC has so lost it's way

    I remember seeing the Net for the first time on a friends (nerds) computer back in 92. And if not for him it would have been years later.
    My response when I first saw it in action? "That's so cool! I want to work for the Internet!". Yet I had no idea what that meant. I thought I could go to a building somewhere and apply for a job "working for the Internet". Tee-hee.

    Oddly enough I did get a job with an ISP start up not long after. And the "Internet for Dummies" book was my bible. :)
    I think this video is cute!

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 5th, 2011 @ 2:25pm

    Ugh... I still remember when the media still called it "The Information Superhighway", or my personal favorite... the "Infobahn". *shudders*

    Now we all are starting to call it "The Cloud"

     

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    dwayne ferrell, Feb 7th, 2011 @ 12:10pm

    brian gumble

    just goes to show that Brain Gumble is an idiot...

    Katie Curic is adorable

    and the other chick needs some LOVIN!

     

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