CNN cuts out heavily promoted clips on privacy
There was something missing from Friday night’s interview with Google chief executive Eric Schmidt on “Parker Spitzer” — the money quote. Some remarks Schmidt made in promos for the interview never made it into the actual show.In a promo clip for the Oct. 22 telecast, Schmidt fielded questions about privacy concerns related to Google Street View, a feature in Google Maps and Google Earth that allows anyone using the programs to check out curbside photographs of most streets around the U.S. Schmidt explained that the camera-mounted vehicles taking those pictures visit each location only once. “So, you can just move, right?” he concluded. The quote got plenty of attention, especially because Schmidt has been the company’s public face when it’s responding to accusations of violating user privacy. It’s also not the first time Schmidt has suggested that users rearrange their lives around Google’s priorities — in August, the exec also told the Wall Street Journal that he predicts young people will begin changing their names in order to avoid having their youthful embarrassments catch up to them as adults. But when the interview appeared, the quote was nowhere to be found. Google claims not to have asked CNN to pull the exchange, and a CNN rep said Google did not ask them to remove anything from the broadcast. “Producers routinely make editorial decisions about what sound bites to include in their shows,” CNN said. “In this case, the clip was posted on cnn.com and disseminated to other media outlets and was widely available.” Typically, this hasn’t quelled cries of conspiracy. “(M)aybe there’s a connection between Time Warner, owner of CNN, and Google,” posited Erik Sherman on BNet, who went on to itemize CNN.com’s ad partnerships with Google-owned properties (no surprise — Google reps about 38% of online ad revenue). Schmidt responded to the controversy on Tuesday: “(M)y comments were made during a fairly long back and forth on privacy,” he said. “I clearly misspoke. If you are worried about Street View and want your house removed please contact Google and we will remove it.” Still, the dust-up isn’t necessarily all bad for the 3-week-old show. “Parker Spitzer” needs a higher profile (the show’s ratings still regularly drop below the 100,000 viewer mark in the 25- to 54-year-olds demo), and some mild outrage might be just what the doctor ordered.