TED's 'Explicitly Partisan' Talk, Briefly Barred From Its Site, Now Everywhere

Nick Hanauer's TED Talk was originally kept from public view for being too "explicitly partisan".

If you haven't seen or heard a TED Talk, they feature interesting or provocative "ideas worth spreading," as the nonprofit's slogan goes. NPR, in fact, has recently launched a TED Radio Hour that features talks ranging from how our brains trick us to what spaghetti sauce has to do with happiness.

But one TED appearance in particular became the talk of the week after it was kept off the TED.com site for being too overtly political.

In March, a tech entrepreneur and one of the early investors in Amazon.com named Nick Hanauer gave a TED talk with an idea he thought was worth spreading — that rich people like him should be paying more in taxes because he believes middle-class consumers, not rich people, are the real job creators. (A National Journal cover story deep dives into the economics behind Hanauer's theories.)

TED Talk curator Chris Anderson refused to post it on TED's website, igniting a cyber-firestorm this week. Anderson explained the decision in a post Thursday:

"The talk tapped into a really important and timely issue. But it framed the issue in a way that was explicitly partisan. And it included a number of arguments that were unconvincing, even to those of us who supported his overall stance. The audience at TED who heard it live (and who are often accused of being overly enthusiastic about left-leaning ideas) gave it, on average, mediocre ratings."

That TED wouldn't post this six-minute politically-themed talk kicked up enough controversy in the blogosphere this week that the "banned" talk was quickly released. TIME Magazine tracked the firestorm:

"The National Journal reported it on Wednesday, inspiring posts on sites ranging from Geekwire to the International Business Times to the Daily Kos. Someone even set up a petition on Change.org to demand that TED post the talk."

It's posted now. The entire text of the short talk, complete with slides, can be seen at The Atlantic. And you can watch it here.

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