Tonelson Blog on Khanna/Matloff Debate Video

Many of you will recall my recent report on my public debate regarding the H-1B work visa with Rep. Ro Khanna (and a third person who did not really discuss the visa). To my knowledge, this was the first time a debate has been held between an elected official and a researcher on the topic, a major event in that sense.

In my opinion, Khanna did quite poorly in the debate. Though I was pleased to find that the idealism he has projected in the press seemed quite sincere — always a big plus in my book — he clearly knew rather little about the visa and even less about the visa’s critics.

The San Jose Mercury News/Bay Area News Group had videoed the entire debate, and I had assumed they would make the video available online. Viewers could then see Khanna’s side of the story, rather than relying on my (presumably biased) report here. A contact at the Mercury promised to look into the status of the video, and informed me the next day that, unfortunately, the paper will not be placing the video online.

Alan Tonelson, who writes a thoughtful and erudite blog that generally takes a skeptical view of the tenets of globalism, made a blog post today on this entire “Videogate” incident. The last three paragraphs make the point especially strongly:

As Matloff noted in an email to me, “Certainly it would have cost the Merc nothing to put the video on the Web, quite easily and simply.” And it’s hard to disagree with his judgment that the paper “would be performing a major public service by placing the video online (in full, of course).”

So it’s necessary to take seriously Matloff when he speculated, in that same email to me: “I can certainly see the Merc wanting to protect Rep. Khanna. They had endorsed Khanna, and generally feel their loyalty is to the tech industry. Their coverage of H-1B has been fair, but their editorial position has always been pro-H-1B.”

Matloff’s views are hardly dispositive – though I have always found him to be scrupulously honest. What could not be clearer, however, is that the Mercury News could reinforce its claims to objectivity by posting the video. With every passing day that it fails, the case for questioning its motives can only grow.

In the last 20 to 30 years, the Mercury has grown in journalistic stature in direct proportion to the rise of the Silicon Valley, and must now be regarded as one of the top newspapers in the nation. As such, I had naively assumed they would make the video available publicly, which as noted, would cost them nothing in time, effort or money. Quite a disappointment, I’d say.


16 thoughts on “Tonelson Blog on Khanna/Matloff Debate Video

  1. >and must now be regarded as one of the top newspapers in the nation

    Seriously? I had no idea. On the other hand look what that even means today, being “one of the top newspapers in the nation” would still leave it as something that you scrape off the bottom of your shoe.


  2. I expect that DC was always corrupt, politicians were self serving, and the media was biased. One of the greatest effects of the internet is the bloggers and alternate media.

    We now have eyes everywhere and honorable people of passion who are not afraid to report what they have found and take a stand against corruption.

    I fear the attempts to shut down alternate media based on their point of view being out of favor. I may not like what someone says, but I defend his right to say stupid things 🙂

    Although I am very troubled by the encouragement of violence or criminal acts, I would be more troubled by having a censor having control of what appears.


  3. > As such, I had naively assumed they would make the video available publicly, which as noted, would cost them nothing in time, effort or money.

    Yes, what’s the point of having a debate if the video, audio, and/or transcript are not made public? Can you imagine if one of the Presidential Debates had not been televised but had been held simply for the viewing of those in attendance?

    It may be better in the future to refuse to attend any debate unless the release of any video and/or audio is spelled out beforehand. Not only do you risk wasting your time but it puts you at a disadvantage if the video is only released if the powers that be conclude that you lost the debate. In any case, I agree with Tonelson. Free the Mercury News H1B Debate Video!


    • The VOA people were quite nice and would have released a video if they had made one. Again, the video was made by a newspaper reporter, not by VOA.


    • I agree. The Merc would publish a video if the professor was mauled or eaten by the lions. I think the professor should stop entering the lion’s den.


  4. The press in this country claims that they are independent and serve as a “mirror to the power”.

    In fact they, as three branches of the government, serve the ruling class.

    What else is new?


  5. Can we sign a petition somewhere? Write letters to the editor?

    Who specifically could we email or contact at The Mercury to lobby for this video access?

    I’m guessing as a FOIA request doesn’t apply here? Any other partial recordings that could be uploaded to say youtube?


    • The Mercury is a private business, so of course FOIA doesn’t apply. I don’t think a petition is a good idea, but I would suggest that you politely call the paper’s video department.


  6. Journalists keep telling us how objective they are and how we should trust them to deliver the news. Obviously, you made a big dent in their objectivity and that’s why they are not posting the video. You have just discovered why most of the country doesn’t trust the main stream media.

    Even though I don’t read that paper, I have no doubt they get a lot of advertising revenue from the corporations using H1Bs. #truthmattersexceptwhenmoneyisinvolved


    • I don’t think it’s advertising revenue. They are basking in SV’s glory, and take SV’s side.

      However, please note that, there was a development today that may lead to the Mercury News putting the video online after all. I’m not holding my breath, but I did talk with my contact there today. Watch this space tomorrow.


  7. Seen this before by every group with some semblance of power.

    Suppress anything that makes your group look bad.

    Sad to see Silicon Valley and the Mercury stoop to this level.

    “When the power of love overcomes the love of power the world will know peace.”
    Jimi Hendrix


  8. “they would make the video available publicly, which as noted, would cost them nothing in time, effort or money.”
    It may cost them time, effort and money, if your arguments didn’t support an agenda, and an agenda was their purpose.


  9. Hi. I’m the editor of the Mercury News. We had a photographer there who captured some still photos and some video for use with a future story, but we didn’t attend with the intention of taping the full debate and did not. I’m at if you’d like to get more details directly.


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