Osama Bin Laden, Martin Luther King Jr., and the Fake (?) Viral Quote

After the first wave of celebratory bin Laden Tweets crested yesterday came a small but notable countermovement. On Twitter, Facebook and blogs, people began expressing ambivalence about the news, by quoting this ode to non-violence from Martin Luther King Jr.

I mourn the loss of thousands of precious lives, but I will not rejoice in the death of one, not even an enemy. Returning hate for hate multiplies hate, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars. Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.

You can debate the sentiment, but it’s a resonant one. And Google searches will turn up lots of examples of people citing it since Sunday night.

The problem is that the first sentence–”I mourn the loss of thousands of precious lives, but I will not rejoice in the death of one, not even an enemy”–doesn’t appear to come from King himself.

[UPDATE: We now have at least two competing claims of authorship for the sentence--one from Penn Jillette, and another from Jessica Dovey. I've asked both for comment.]

Or, at least: I can’t find anything online that explains where or when King said or wrote that. Neither can The Atlantic’s Megan McArdle, The Detroit Free Press’ Mark W. Smith, or blogger David Nishimura.

Smith was able to find the rest of the quote in Strength To Love; a collection of the civil rights leader’s sermons.

And it’s possible that King is responsible for the first sentence, and that it’s just not accessible through Google for some reason. I can’t imagine what that would be.

Then again, I can’t imagine why someone would take an existing quote from King and tack on a sentence that wasn’t his. Perhaps there’s an MLK historian out there who can clear this up.

For now, though, we’ll add it to the long list of reminders that not everything you see on the Internet may be true–even if you’d like it to be.

[Image credit: Library of Congress via Wikipedia]

On the Web, Bin Laden News Is Big–But Not as Big as Soccer

No debate that Osama bin Laden’s death is one of the biggest news stories in years.

Except on the Web, where all of our tweeting and reading and live-streaming about it isn’t generating nearly as much traffic as other big events of the last decade.

Here’s a look at the last day of Akamai’s “Net Usage Index For News,” which is pretty much what it sounds like: It tracks interest via page views. Note the spike last night:

Akamai says traffic peaked around midnight, at 4.1 million page views per minute, which sounds like a lot. But it’s not that much–it’s not enough to crack Akamai’s top 10 list, or even its top 14 (the Internet infrastructure company has been tracking this stuff since 2005).

If you want to really make waves on the Internet, it turns out, your best bet is to involve soccer, as four of the top five biggest Web news events did. Sports in general is a good bet–it accounts for seven of the top 14:

The obvious asterisk here is that the bin Laden news broke late on a Sunday night, when a good chunk of the U.S. was headed to bed and most Europeans were presumably fast asleep.

Had this popped on a weekeday, during daylight hours, it’s reasonable to think this would have been much, much bigger. Maybe not soccer big, though.

News Corp.’s IGN Buys Hearst’s UGO In Preparation For Game Site Spin-Off

News Corp., which is getting ready to part with MySpace, is now prepping a move for another one of its big Web properties.

The media conglomerate plans to spin out its IGN.com dudes-and-games site, and is bulking up in advance by acquiring Hearst’s dudes-and-games-centric UGO.com.

People familiar with the companies’ operations tell me News Corp. and Hearst have been finalizing plans over the weekend, and will likely announce the merger within the next few days.

Plans to cleave off IGN.com will take longer, perhaps months. Roy Bahat, who has been running IGN for News Corp. since 2007, will run the new company.

The goal is to create a standalone Web business that will focus primarily on videogame news, reviews, and culture. News Corp. is weighing taking on outside investors for IGN in advance of the split; IGN may also acquire other properties before the move.

News Corp. officials declined to comment. I haven’t heard back from Hearst. News Corp. also owns this Web site.

Unlike other Web moves News Corp. has been making, the plan to move IGN outside of News Corp.’s corporate walls isn’t a disposal of an impaired asset. People familiar with IGN’s operations say it is growing and profitable.

I’m told the company expects to earn more than $10 million this year on revenues of around $100 million. The idea is that IGN will be able to grow much faster if it isn’t operating inside Rupert Murdoch’s company.

Assuming that News Corp. ends up getting a buyer or partner for MySpace, the IGN move means that the company will have found new homes for all three of the big Web properties it bought during the Web 2.0 boom.

News Corp. kicked off the boom itself by buying MySpace for $580 million in the summer of 2005; a few months later it paid $650 million for IGN. In 2007, it paid about $250 million for photo-sharing site Photobucket, which it handed over to Ontela in December 2009.

Both in and outside of News Corp., IGN has always garnered much less attention than MySpace. Just a few years ago, MySpace was the world’s biggest social network, and the reason Google had signed on for a $900 million ad deal; IGN was simply a collection of dude-oriented sites that News Corp. had overpaid for. More recently, MySpace has been a black hole for money and talent, while IGN has found its focus as a competitor to CBS’ Gamespot.

Hearst, meanwhile, has been trying to figure out what to do with UGO for a while. It paid $100 million for the site in 2007, but its original management team left within two years. Hearst Interactive head Ken Bronfin has been overseeing the site since then, and last year the company hired former Montogmery & Co. banker Kevin Covert to find a partner.

I don’t know how the two sites are valued in the merger, except that IGN is worth more. News Corp. will have a controlling stake in the combined company. Comscore says IGN has an audience of 19.7 million U.S. visitors; it pegs UGO at 13.1 million.



Barack Obama Wants You To Watch His Funny YouTube Video

The White House Correspondent’s Dinner, an annual tradition where the media and political elite meet to roast/congratulate each other, with mixed results, just finished up. Seth Meyers of “Saturday Night Live” hosted the event, and you should be able to watch replays on C-SPAN if you’re interested.

One new twist to the proceedings: The White House, which normally plays along with the event even though the chief occupant gets ribbed, has gone all in. Immediately after showing this video–a parody trailer based on the “The King’s Speech”–at the event, they released it on YouTube (via Twitter, of course).

The bit isn’t LOL-worthy, IMHO. But it does contain jokes, and I think it’s noteworthy that they’re putting this out there for public consumption, at a time when much of the electorate seems particularly… susceptible to jokes. Even more so if they’re easily accessible via Google.

Also, as The Atlantic.com’s Gabe Snyder points out, the clip contains a Wu Tang Clan sample. Which is sure to upset someone (and please lots of us, too).

(Correction: The song — “Shimmy Shimmy Ya“–is actually from (now-deceased) Wu Tang Clan member Ol’ Dirty Bastard, notes MediaMemo reader “quietstorms“. Even better/worse!)

Meanwhile, you can see all 17 minutes of Obama’s presentation here (much sharper, I think–good Fox News dig), via the Washington Post:

HBO Comes to the iPad, a Couple Days Early

HBO Go, the pay cable channel’s Web service, doesn’t formally launch on the iPad until Monday. But no need to wait: You can download it now at iTunes.

As advertised, the free app is a mirror of HBO’s existing broadband service: It lets the channel’s subscribers stream a very deep catalog of HBO’s shows and movies, on demand, via both Wi-Fi and wireless networks.

It will also work on Apple’s iPhone and iPod Touch, as well as 20 phones running Google’s Android; it won’t work on tablets running Google’s newest Honeycomb OS, though. (Demo video from BTIG’s Rich Greenfield at the bottom of this post)

The two catches:

  • The service is available to most cable customers, with the exception of Time Warner Cable and Cablevision subscribers. Time Warner Cable says it’s working on a deal; Cablevision won’t comment.
  • It’s a very deep catalog–1,400 titles, including the complete run of great series like “The Sopranos” and “The Wire”–but it will still have gaps that could frustrate HBO’s most avid users. I’d like to try David Simon’s “Treme” again, for instance, but I can’t get last season’s episodes; just the new ones that started airing last week.

Some of you will bemoan the fact that you have to be a cable subscriber to get this–there’s no broadband-only option, a la Netflix and Hulu Plus. But that’s the point: Parent company Time Warner is completely wedded to the cable industry and wants to build as many incentives as it can to keep you there, too.

Still, this stuff is lightyears ahead of where the cable business was just a couple years ago, where paying subscribers had no way to get these shows except on their TVs, or by buying it again on DVD or iTunes.

And if you really are a dedicated cord-cutter, and a patient one, you may eventually get your way: I can imagine a scenario where HBO does offer this stuff directly to consumers, and if it happens within a few years, I won’t be completely shocked.