YouTube was, at one point, the great equalizer that finally allowed progressive media outlets to compete on the same level as corporate-sponsored Republican platforms. But thanks to a few bad actors, mostly on the right, progressive content is being unfairly dinged by algorithm shifts and corporate influence. Ring of Fire’s Farron Cousins discusses these issues and many more with Mike Figueredo, host of The Humanist Report.

Transcript:

*This transcript was generated by a third-party transcription software company, so please excuse any typos.
Not that long ago Youtube was really a great equalizer between both the right and the left. Right wing media typically gets propped up by some kind of organization or possibly a millionaire, billionaire backer, progressive media, not so much, and youtube put us all on an even playing field, but recently progressive content has been getting dinged to left and right for essentially covering the news of the day. Joining me now to talk about this as well as several other issues is host of the humanis t report. Mike, it is a pleasure to have you here on ring of fire with me today. 
I am really glad to be here. Thank you so much for the invite Farron.
you know, I, I’ve seen you tweet out about it. Uh, I’ve tweeted about it. Everybody on the left pretty much has been talking about this for quite some time, but we, we’ve been noticing with youtube a lot more recently everything, maybe not everything but, but a lot of things just happened to get demonetized a, a great example. Even when you’re talking about something that’s not necessarily controversial LGBTQ issues. If you talk about those, you get demonetized I think what up until about two days ago, they finally started letting some of those through talking about social issues. I mean this is it starting to really get out of control with the amount of content that’s getting hit here for really no reason whatsoever, isn’t it? 
It’s, it’s really difficult to, um, figure out what will and won’t work, especially like with LGBTQ issues because pretty much any video that I put out that was related to LGBTQ plus rights, I mean, I just expect that to be demonetized. Although I actually tweeted, because I was surprised that after being initially demonetized, the video that I had covered on trans rights was re monetized. And I was actually so shocked that I tweeted about it and I said, this is like the first time in a while I have been able to monetize a video on trans rights, which is strange because you know, this double standard where if you are hateful towards LGBTQ people like Steven Crowder, you can monetize that content. But when we put out a response to that, we get demonetized. So it’s a little bit of frustrating that this was the standard. 
I mean, I’m assuming up until recently. So it’s a, it’s an indication that hopefully youtube is changing because I do think we should be encouraging and incentivizing creators to make LGBTQ plus content. I mean, back when I was a young man, youtube was a great resource. When I was coming out, I would listen to people’s coming out stories and whatnot and it really helped me. So to have that demonetize when I saw this happen, especially after the 2017 ad apocalypse, it was really devastating to see that because you know, that turns LGBTQ plus creators and allies off to the platform, which I think is a really, really bad sign. And it’s not just LGBTQ plus rights. As you know, pretty much we, we know what will and won’t get demonetized anything with regard to foreign policy, anything a little bit too controversial, it will be demonetized and you know, the issue isn’t necessarily that it’s permanently demonetized. A lot of times we’ll appeal when we’re initially the monetized and then they will reinstate the ads. The problem is when you’re hosting a news and politics channel like ours is that first 24 hours is absolutely crucial. If we don’t make that revenue, then we’re probably not gonna do too well on that video if we’re all. So for it to be re monetized, you know, 24 to 48 hours later, that doesn’t necessarily help us. So just trying to navigate an ever changing algorithm, it can be really frustrating. 
Well, and uh, that’s something that, uh, Kyle Kalinsky is mentioned a lot too. You know, his, his videos get, get huge traffic. He’s got over 700,000 subscribers and yeah, they, they’ll demonetize it for the first 12 hours or so. Okay, well there goes half your traffic, so that’s half the revenue off a video just automatically gone because it got snatched up in some kind of, you know, algorithm or, you know, program looking for certain words. And, you know, we, over the last couple of weeks, uh, have gotten huge traffic off of, uh, talking about Jeffrey Epstein. Well, anytime you mentioned Epstein, at least on our channel, that video is instantaneously, uh, limited advertisers. Just no exceptions, Epstein, you know, gone. And we’ve got some of those videos that are, you know, hundreds of thousands of views that, you know, maybe make a couple of bucks but certainly not reflective of the amount of, of traffic there. 
And it gets odd because as you said, you try to navigate it, but at the same time we have to talk about the news of the day. We can’t ignore issues like with the mass shootings, you know, those, uh, absolutely have to be discussed and they, you know, they kill all revenue to any of those. You know, you mentioned the word El Paso, uh, in the first week or so after the shooting, that video is gone. Even if you weren’t talking about the shooting, mentioning the word shooting is going to get you punished by youtube. And so it’s hard to navigate. And what’s really disappointing, and this is the overall thing, it’s not just people saying, oh, I’m mad. I’m not making money. People do this for a living. And these voices are important. You know, five, six, seven years ago, these voices wouldn’t exist. People would not have been able to do this because they would have had to, you know, basically find a new way to, to make a living. And so that’s what’s harming it here. If this continues, voices will be lost. You know, this is not going to be a, a job or a career that people are going to be able to pursue if this is not fixed by, by Youtube. 
Yeah, I totally agree. And that would be devastating to political discourse because independent media, even though there are problems in issues with indie media itself, nothing is perfect. You know, we need some force in this country pushing back against the corporate capitalist narrative and Indian media really is, you know, it’s the only set of people who are willing to do that. So it is, you know, it’s worrying to see this trend and you know, right before the apocalypse that that was when I decided to go full time. I was a phd student, I was a research assistant. I was going into my second year and I thought, you know what? I’m going to do something crazy. I’m going to try to do this full time. A couple months later there was the ad apocalypse. Now I was a little bit lucky because I wasn’t hit as hard as someone like Kyle Kalinsky or David Packman. 
But the longterm trend, you know, I’ve seen that the algorithm doesn’t like me as much. And as you’ve stated, you know, you navigate to an extent, right? Like we know that if we put shooting in the tags, that’s an instant demonetization. So what I would kind of do to get around that and subvert the system was rather than mentioning, mentioned shooting, I would say tragedy. I wouldn’t name the city, but it’s gotten a lot smarter, you know, so now it’s picking up on that. So it’s just a matter of like trying to figure out what to do in order to not get dinged by the algorithm. And at the same time, you know, you, you do what you can, but really it’s like trying to hit a moving target. It’s always changing. And you know, one week you just feel like, wow, this is all crashing and burning in the next week. 
You’re doing great. So it’s, it’s so volatile. Like a couple of weeks ago there was one day I put in like 15-16 hours editing these long videos. All three of them that I put out were do monetize and I thought all of this work was for nothing. Like without member support and patrons like this would not be a sustainable business model. Now all three of those videos were reinstated. But you know, as you stated that first few hours, it’s absolutely crucial for news and politics. One thing that I’ve seen, which is pretty clever for creators that just put out like creative artistic content like contra points is what they’ll do is they’ll upload a video to one listed and then they’ll wait until it’s been reviewed and re monetized and then they’ll make it public. Which is a great strategy. It’s just something that we can’t really do on our shows. 
I mean, sure I can do like an interview with a politician or political analysis that isn’t necessarily topical and wait until that’s re monetized, but that’s not going to work in, you know, nine times out of 10 instances. So it’s absolutely a struggle. And it’s difficult because the alternative obviously is member support patrons, but we’re also a left wing political channel. And you, you pointed out, we don’t have right-wing sugar daddies to pick us up when we fall. So I’m bringing on these candidates. I’m asking, you know, please donate a dollar or $2 to these candidates, whatever you can and that I’m asking them to contribute to Bernie Sanders, you know? Um, and then I’m saying, hey, if you have an extra couple of bucks to spare, maybe support us on patron. So it’s difficult. There’s a limited amount of resources and we are not, you know, we’re not putting out news that will be appealing to wealthy people. 
We’re speaking to people who are disproportionately disadvantaged and economically and socioeconomically disadvantaged. So it’s tough. But for the most part, all that I want to do is be able to pay my bills and do this. We, I think a lot of us, we’re putting this in, we’re putting in the effort because it’s a labor of love for us, which is important. You need people who just care. And I think that’s what a lot of us want to do. We just want to be able to survive. And, um, that’s all we care about. Putting out the content is more important. 
and one of the things and, and to a degree it is a little bit lacking right now and hopefully I think it’s going to take it is getting better. Um, we all have to support one another too, you know, not just, not just with the, the audiences supporting us. 
I think we need to build a better support system. Cause one of the things you do see among the right wing talkers, they always have each other’s backs. You know, even when they come out and say the stupid things, they’re all kinda on the same page. And I’m not saying we all need to have the same message, but by no means should we. But, but there needs to be a little bit more, uh, comradery. And you know, maybe that’s something we all work on in our spare times. Uh, maybe we all get together sometime go to one of those a retreats, but, but look, hey, I fallen into the trap too, right? I’ve gotten mad and I’ve, I’ve said, uh, you know, things that I later regretted and, and apologize for about some of these other folks. But at the end of the day, we really are all in this together. 
You know, our, our, our collective success is, is what is important here because when we start falling off or we start picking each other apart, you know, then we’ve already lost. I, I think at that point, 
you’re totally right. I think that it is important that we kind of help each other. I’ve backed away from that admittedly a little bit going until 2018, 20, 19 because when I first got started, you know, I had to rely on a lot of other people to kind of get a boost myself. And then I started to bring on other people and you know, I’ve made a lot of mistakes. I brought on individuals in indie media who started like great progressive’s. Turns out, you know, they were bad faith actors. You know, people who supported Bernie at first. And I went to Donald Trump. I’m, I’m talking about like ha good figures like that. 
We did too. Yeah. Yeah. So, you know, it’s a matter of trying to be responsible and uplift people, but also be selective in choosing people who are actually in this for, you know, the policy and the end result and not just doing it, you know, because their career minded. And for the Griff and other person I brought on, um, same progressive, um, I thought, oh well, you know, there’s so few women in this, this, um, Andy media community, we have to uplift, you know, all voices, women included. So I brought her on, you know, a few, about a year after I brought her on my show, she was talking about how Parkland was a false flag and not to poop on these people too much. You know, that’s why I kind of backed off, but I’m getting more comfortable and kind of realizing, you know, who is and isn’t real. 
And I’m absolutely recognizing the importance of really reaching out and kind of collaborating with people and making sure that we all uplift each other because we may not agree on everything. Everyone has their own imperfections and strengths and weaknesses, but this really is a community. And we all really do have the same overarching goal, if, you know, even if we have a little bit of disagreements ideologically and politically. So I totally agree with the sentiment. We do have to really uplift each other. And that’s something that the right has been really great at doing because they, you know, they all bring on each other. Whenever somebody is demonetized. We all hear about it. Ted Cruz tweets about it, you know, but the same isn’t true for the left wing, you know, um, in the media sphere. So I think that’s a phenomenal point. And I totally agree.

Farron Cousins is the executive editor of The Trial Lawyer magazine and a contributing writer at DeSmogBlog.com. He is the co-host / guest host for Ring of Fire Radio. His writings have appeared on Alternet, Truthout, and The Huffington Post. Farron received his bachelor's degree in Political Science from the University of West Florida in 2005 and became a member of American MENSA in 2009. Follow him on Twitter @farronbalanced