Kara Swisher

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Craigslist CEO Seeking Anderson Cooper Type for Non-Trashing (And Maybe Coffee?)

Craiglist CEO Jim Buckmaster let one fly yesterday at CNN reporter Amber Lyon for a report on child sex trafficking she did that focused on the role played by the online-classified giant.

It included using a May interview with Craigslist founder Craig Newmark that Buckmaster characterized as an ambush, and he accused Lyon of “mischaracterizing your stunt as a serious interview on this subject.”

He ended by noting that if “[CNN anchor] Anderson Cooper would like to come out to SF and sit with us for an interview worthy of CNN’s viewers, we’ll consider it.”

But Lyon’s bio on the CNN site told a different story:

“Lyon also investigated the sex trafficking of minors on Craigslist. In a CNN exclusive, Lyon brought her findings to the ‘Craig’ in Craigslist, founder Craig Newmark. Her interview left Newmark speechless.”

Actually, Newmark wasn’t exactly speechless, as you can see from the video below–he just declined to answer and was silent, which is quite typical of him.

Nonetheless, San Francisco-based Craigslist has been under serious fire of late from state attorneys general nationwide who are seeking to get Craigslist to voluntarily take down its “adult services” section, which is lucrative, but which they allege is a thinly veiled venue for prostitution.

Today, the Boston Globe posted a tough editorial supporting a voluntary takedown, noting:

“While Craigslist should be lauded for having in place stronger safeguards than many other websites–and the classifieds sections of some newspapers and magazines–the site is, at the end of the day, profiting off of prostitution.”


Currently, the company says it now screens every adult ad before it goes up, which Lyon alleged was not being done effectively.

More to come, obviously, but here’s an open invite for Buckmaster to do a video with BoomTown, although I am nowhere near as glam as Cooper.

Until then, here is one of the CNN videos by Lyon:

And here is the Buckmaster blog:

For Amber Lyon, CNN

I see you’ve now gotten around to requesting an interview with me or a company spokesperson, 90 days after you ambushed our namesake and founder, Craig Newmark, following his May 20th talk on veteran’s affairs and other issues unrelated to craigslist, at a conference in Washington.

You knew Craig was not in management or a company spokesperson, but setting CNN’s ethical code aside, you sidestepped company channels in favor of ambushing our semi-retired founder, complete with a misleading “set up” for your surprise questions. Now that CNN has aired your highly misleading piece dozens of times, mischaracterizing your stunt as a serious interview on this subject, and you’ve updated your “bio” to showcase this rare jewel of investigative journalism, you’re ready to try actually interviewing the company itself on this subject.

There is a class of “journalists” known for gratuitously trashing respected organizations and individuals, ignoring readily available facts in favor of rank sensationalism and self-promotion. They work for tabloid media. Your stunt has veteran news pros we know recoiling in journalistic horror, some of them chalking it up to a decline in CNN’s standards, which is unfortunate.

Seeing how you’ve pinned your career hopes on butchering this story, I’ll have to pass. If Anderson Cooper would like to come out to SF and sit with us for an interview worthy of CNN’s viewers, we’ll consider it.

Jim Buckmaster
CEO, craigslist

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When AllThingsD began, we told readers we were aiming to present a fusion of new-media timeliness and energy with old-media standards for quality and ethics. And we hope you agree that we’ve done that.

— Kara Swisher and Walt Mossberg, in their farewell D post