Was the Kanye West Taylor Swift VMA Drama Fake?

Kanye West appeared to spoil Taylor Swift’s big win at the MTV Video Music Awards (VMAs) tonight, snatching the microphone in the middle of her acceptance speech.

Kanye West said to Taylor Swift as he grabbed the mic:

"Taylor, I’m really happy for you. I’ll let you finish, but Beyonce had one of the best videos of all time! One of the best videos of all time!"

The New York Times published this photo of a stunned Taylor Swift and angry Kanye West.

The video below shows a shocked Taylor Swift as Kanye West interrupts her, then leaves her to be drowned out as she tries to give her acceptance speech.

But the smoothness of the video transition to a smiling Beyonce, and MTV’s swift action to remove all clips from YouTube–forcing them to come to MTV’s own website–suggests the whole thing may have been orchestrated.

In the Decoder blog, The Times’ Brian Stelter documents what he called Viacom’s "game of media whack-a-mole" in trying to suppress illegal YouTube clips as they appeared.

"Media companies would prefer that people watch the clips on TV or on their own Web sites," asserts Stelter, embedding the same clip seen below, the only one legally mandated to show the incident.

Stelter doesn’t go so far to suggest that West’s outburst might have been a hoax, but Viacom’s MTV certainly reaped the benefits of forcing millions to their website for the clip, which currently has over 1,000 comments on MTV.com.

Guest of a Guest, who also believe the stunt to be a hoax, asked Stelter what he thought:

We asked The New York Times’ Brian Stelter, who was at the VMAs, to weigh in:

“The story arc couldn’t have been written more perfectly. The conflict teed off the show, created tension for two hours, then concluded when Beyonce invited Taylor Swift back on stage for a proper acceptance speech. Staged or not, there must be a good bit of back-patting at MTV’s headquarters today.”

Perhaps even more suspicious, GoaG notes that Swift and Beyonce both end the show in matching red gowns, as Beyonce gives Swift another chance to deliver her acceptance speech.

All Things Digital‘s Peter Kafka wondered today on Twitter how many more views YouTube would have garnered for the clip if left unchecked, and noted that the MTV clip claims over one million views.

Viacom’s move is at odds with internet culture, but reflects the entrenched mentality of an embattled media industry struggling against a market that wants what it wants, when it wants, where it wants– MTV or no.


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