Via America’s LawyerMike Papantonio and Trial Lawyer Magazine editor Farron Cousins discuss how the YouTube platform, once revered as a user-based medium for free speech, has been banning or flagging certain videos using an algorithm that hunts for ‘inflammatory’ keywords. Also, Mike Papantonio is joined by legal journalist Mollye Barrows to discuss the recent firing of former California judge Aaron Persky from his coaching position for a high school tennis team. The firing stems from backlash associated with the former judge’s grossly light sentencing of Stanford swimmer Brock Turner for raping 22 year-old Chanel Miller behind a dumpster.


*This transcript was generated by a third-party transcription software company, so please excuse any typos.

Mike Papantonio:             Independent creators and media outlets are being punished by Youtube’s new algorithm shift that was supposed to filter out harmful content, but instead it appears to be promoting corporate outlets. I have Farron Cousins with trial lawyer magazine with me to talk about what’s happening. You know, Farron, it’s almost like they’re not getting the memo. It’s the folks at Youtube have not gotten the memo that their political correctness is killing independent media and now it’s being taken over by corporate media, again. MSNBC, CNN, ABC, CBS, all that money’s moving in and the independent’s are being pushed out, which is exactly why we have this system to begin with. To avoid corporate media that really has turned into nothing but a corporate glut of non-news.

Farron Cousins:                  Right.

Mike Papantonio:             Let’s, talk to me about this.

Farron Cousins:                  Well, what’s interesting is, you know, Youtube for the last few years, they, they’ve struggled a lot because there is a lot of hateful, harmful content, you know, radical content out there and they want to keep it away from people. They’re not having it show up in the recommended videos. It’s not being monetized, but by doing this, they kind of painted everything with a broad brush and now you find videos that certain words, even when you’re calling out something like racism, because you said the word racism, your video’s going to get demonetized. Your video is not going to get shared as widely, even though you’re denouncing this thing that just gets caught up in this massive sweep from the algorithm. So that’s, that’s one part of it, obviously. Youtube overreacted to what has happened with the harmful content and they try, they created a giant net.

Mike Papantonio:             Okay. First of all…

Farron Cousins:                  That’s catching everybody.

Mike Papantonio:             Okay. It’s, it, we cannot ever be completely politically correct. We have to agree with that. We can’t, there’s no way that you can have media that is always completely politically correct. So this is the best example because I could go on with a dozen story, tens of dozen stories, just like this. BreadTube, okay. BreadTube was a product where they would, they would attack right wing, crazy talk, like the crazy talk, the deniers of the Holocaust. So BreadTube comes out and tries to explain it and talks about how this is nothing more than Nazi propaganda and all of a sudden they’re flagged. Okay. And ultimately they’re taken down, they lose their right to do anything. This is an organization that’s out there to address hate talk and they disappear.

How did it happen? First of all, it happened because of these inane, ridiculous algorithms that are running right now that, oh by the way, we were even flagged one time and had to protest to come back. And our story was about the leadership in Saudi Arabia and they attacked us as if we had said something wrong. But what happened here, and it happens all the time, is they react to likes and dislikes. That’s literally something they look at. Oh well what are the dislikes? Well, when you have right wingers coming in and saying BreadTube did something awful, that’s the first strike. And then it gets worse beyond that. This is a dysfunctional system that is now being flooded by the same corporate media that we always try to get away from.

Farron Cousins:                  Well, and the other part of that with, with the flagging of the videos is that anytime there is content that the other side doesn’t like, they can send their folks in. Everybody go down vote this video, everybody you know, report it because there’s something in it that we think is bad and Youtube kind of gives the people who flag the videos the benefit of the doubt. You know, nobody would ever lie about this. So let’s take the video down or demonetize it and then go through the review process to see if that is what happened. And it’s because they are very reactive, you know, they don’t want to take the time at first. They hope that they’ll take your video down and you won’t say anything and they move on with their day. But again, that’s just half the story too.

Mike Papantonio:             Farron, this is all about…

Farron Cousins:                  The other half is…

Mike Papantonio:             It’s all about money.

Farron Cousins:                  It is.

Mike Papantonio:             Okay.

Farron Cousins:                  And that’s the other half.

Mike Papantonio:             Let’s call it what it is. The other half, this is all about money.

Farron Cousins:                  Right.

Mike Papantonio:             All of a sudden we see, do they want to become the same thing that that imbecilic Facebook has become? Where, oh, we’re having a birthday party. Here’s uncle Fred’s, you know, second marriage, let’s film it. All this feel good imbecilic kind of material that never tells the American public anything. I mean they could become a bunch of imbeciles if that’s what they want. And they can do that by allowing corporate media to do the same thing that they’ve done to the American public already.

Look, think about this. In 1980 there were almost 60 independent sources for news media. You know what it is now? Four, maybe some people say three, all the media in this country comes down to three, three organizations. And so, so we had Youtube because we independent news could come in, we could have a voice that got away from the pabulum that we have to listen to on the nightly news or MSNBC or CNN. We could get away from advertisers telling us what it is we’re going to listen to because that’s what happens on MSNBC.

Farron Cousins:                  Right.

Mike Papantonio:             You know, I did MSNBC long enough to understand when they didn’t like us, when an advertiser didn’t like the story, they say, well, we can’t let, we can’t let them, let, can’t let them do the story.

Farron Cousins:                  Well, and when you have these, these advertisers, they’re, they’re not telling the creators what you can and cannot say. They’re telling Youtube what you can and cannot put their ads on. So Youtube and, and the studies have shown this, I think we’re at about 95% of the time in their recommended videos, it is a, what they call legacy media, which is your CNN, MSNBC, and Fox News, ABCs. So they’re suggesting that even if you’re looking at, you know, an independent journalist who did a video on their phone with their webcam, you know, saying, listen, I’m here, I’m in the field. I’m doing real reporting. And Youtube says, hey, because you liked this guy, maybe you want to watch some, some pundits duke it out on CNN.

Mike Papantonio:             Yeah, the same thing that we’ve been seeing…

Farron Cousins:                  Right.

Mike Papantonio:             For years, which is meaningless. Stupidity.

Farron Cousins:                  Yeah.

Mike Papantonio:             And so the, the truth is that we never, because of this new algorithm and because of the new Youtube fear of being criticized, we don’t get environmental cases. We don’t get cases about corporate misconduct, about pharmaceutical companies killing the American public. Because, because on corporate media, you can’t tell stories like that because advertisers don’t let them. We don’t get stories about Wall Street misconduct or the backstory to anything. This is a disaster. Hopefully they’re going to get it under control. The sexual assault victim at the center of a high profile rape case involving a Stanford University swimmer is finally going public. And I want to talk about the case. Let’s, this, this is an ugly case.

Mollye Barrows:                It is.

Mike Papantonio:             This is one, it sounds like we’ve talked about this again and again over the last couple of years, but this is the case of Brock Turner and Brock was charged with rape.

Mollye Barrows:                Yes.

Mike Papantonio:             In front of eye witnesses. Tell us, set this up for us, okay.

Mollye Barrows:                Yes, it’s a fascinating case. So the victim in this case, which was several years ago, has finally come forward. She’s got a book about it and really it’s about class privilege in the criminal justice system and how she felt as a victim being impacted by that. But going back to what spawned all this, and that’s her attacker there, Brock Turner, who was on a swimming scholarship there at Stanford University, 19 years old at the time. He and the victim, her name is Chanel Miller, and at the time and the case, she was known as Emily DOE because she didn’t want her name to be public because of all the repercussions and the fallout of the victim shaming and just the embarrassment of the whole situation and what she felt like was ridiculed over this case.

Mike Papantonio:             Okay. So this, this freak rapes her in front of eyewitnesses.

Mollye Barrows:                Yes. They had attended the same party. He claimed they left together. She has no recollection of it and there’s plenty of evidence that, that has that, that would, that would substantiate her claim that she was not a willing participant in anything that he did after they left this party. And she, two other students found him assaulting her behind the dumpster and she was unconscious. He claimed that that was not what was going on, but she was unconscious. He tried to run. The two students, tackled him, called the cops, held until they got there. He denied that he did anything, but they did a sexual assault evidence kit and they found that there was enough evidence to charge him. And essentially when he went to trial, he was convicted on three charges of felony sexual assault.

Mike Papantonio:             Okay. So he’s convicted.

Mollye Barrows:                Yes.

Mike Papantonio:             Three charges, felony sexual assault. So freak one we know is Brock Turner.

Mollye Barrows:                Right.

Mike Papantonio:             Freak, freak two, is judge Persky. Right?

Mollye Barrows:                Yes, judge Aaron Persky.

Mike Papantonio:             Who used to, the ex judge Persky.

Mollye Barrows:                That’s right.

Mike Papantonio:             Who all of a sudden takes it on himself to just play God and say, you know, we’re going to give the kid a break. For what?

Mollye Barrows:                Right, he was…

Mike Papantonio:             What, what break? He’s a swimmer at Stanford. You know, he, the guy’s obviously got some mental issues.

Mollye Barrows:                Yes.

Mike Papantonio:             He’s going to do this again, it’s just a matter of when. But judge Persky here thinks that he’s smarter or smarter than what the legislature says a person a judge should do when somebody’s convicted of a crime like this. Right?

Mollye Barrows:                Exactly. So with those three convictions on the felony sexual assault, he was facing up to 14 years in prison. Prosecutors were asking for six, but the judge, Aaron Persky, went with the probation departments recommendation and that he should have more of a minor jail time, if you will.

Mike Papantonio:             Okay. Let me tell…

Mollye Barrows:                A moderate jail time.

Mike Papantonio:             Let me tell you how that works. The probation department is so subject to outside influences coming in.

Mollye Barrows:                That’s what it sounds like.

Mike Papantonio:             It, it is. It is. It’s far different from the prosecutor’s office. It’s far different from what you see legislatively. This is the guidelines. The, the, the kid should be locked up for 14 years or six years.

Mollye Barrows:                Right.

Mike Papantonio:             Prosecutors say, look, we’ve, we did this, we handled this case.

Mollye Barrows:                We know.

Mike Papantonio:             We know all the details we’ve seen, we know what he’s about and you should throw him in jail for six years.

Mollye Barrows:                Right.

Mike Papantonio:             Persky though, says, oh no, let me read the probation report.

Mollye Barrows:                Six months.

Mike Papantonio:             Which is, which is always the easy out for a judge who wants to give an easy out. So it’s six months.

Mollye Barrows:                Six months, and he ended up only serving three months.

Mike Papantonio:             Yeah. Okay. Rapes a girl plain sight.

Mollye Barrows:                Yes.

Mike Papantonio:             I promise you it’s going to happen again. We’ll be reading, we’ll be talking about this story years from now in another iteration.

Mollye Barrows:                Yes.

Mike Papantonio:             So Persky the public says by God you can’t do that. What do they do?

Mollye Barrows:                Yeah, so there was a huge public outcry once it became known that he had given this kid who had been convicted of sexually assaulting an unconscious 22 year old woman behind a dumpster. He said, you know, that sentence, I’m going to give you a sentence that to me is consistent with similar charges, considering how drunk you were, basically. So it was a, quite the public outcry.

Mike Papantonio:             Oh, it’s okay to be drunk and rape somebody. Is that what the judge is saying?

Mollye Barrows:                And that’s what it, that’s the way the public certainly took it. And they voted him out of office just last year. In fact, he was the first one to basically be recalled from a bench by voters in more than 85 years in that particular part of California. So he since applied for a job as a tennis coach at a local high school for a girls junior varsity.

Mike Papantonio:             Oh yeah, let’s put the judge in.

Mollye Barrows:                High school team.

Mike Papantonio:             High school girls team. Okay.

Mollye Barrows:                They hired him, he’d gone through the background check. They actually had him getting ready to start his job. And then the victim who had been known as Emily DOE or Jane DOE in the case before she came forward with her true name to talk about her experience that happened just this month. So as a result of basically the case being back in the headlines again, the school district became aware that this man was now working for them and they met with the parents and the teachers and they decided to fire him as a result.

Mike Papantonio:             Well, where, where else do you think you can turn on your TV right now.

Mollye Barrows:                Right.

Mike Papantonio:             And see anybody reporting a story like we’re talking about right now where we call out a judge and just because he’s a judge, that means nothing to me. A judge is just, you know, he’s just somebody who either got elected or appointed.

Mollye Barrows:                Right.

Mike Papantonio:             But you have to call these stories out and I’ll be darn if the, if the corporate media is willing to do this, the good judge Persky. What’s he doing now?

Mollye Barrows:                Well, it’s not teaching tennis.

Mike Papantonio:             To girls, yeah.

Mollye Barrows:                That’s right.

Mike Papantonio:             Okay. Thanks for joining me. I appreciate it.

Mollye Barrows:                Thanks Pap.

Mike Papantonio is an American attorney and television and radio talk show host. He is past president of The National Trial Lawyers, the most prestigious trial lawyer association in America; and is one of the few living attorneys inducted into the Trial Lawyer Hall of Fame. He hosts the international television show "America's Lawyer"; and co-hosts Ring of Fire Radio, a nationally syndicated weekly radio program, with Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. and Sam Seder.