Should there be a “gatekeeper” regulating internet bloggers? In the aftermath of the Shirley Sherrod incident, that’s what CNN promoted on July 23.
Anchors Kyra Phillips and John Roberts discussed the “mixed blessing of the internet,” and agreed that there should be a crackdown on anonymous bloggers who disparage others on the internet.
“There are so many great things that the internet does and has to offer, but at the same time, Kyra, as you know, there is this dark side,” Roberts said. “Imagine what would have happened if we hadn’t taken a look at what happened with Shirley Sherrod and plumbed the depths further and found out that what had been posted on the internet was not in fact reflective of what she said.”
But Phillips replied that the mainstream media “can’t always do that.”
“There’s going to have be a point in time where these people have to be held accountable,” Phillips said. “How about all these bloggers that blog anonymously? They say rotten things about people and they’re actually given credibility, which is crazy. They’re a bunch of cowards, they’re just people seeking attention.”
Phillips demanded to know what Andrew Keen thought needed to be done. Keen, author of “The Cult of the Amateur: How Today's Internet is Killing Our Culture,” who suggested that there needs to be an internet “gatekeeper,” had been interviewed by Roberts and quoted in the segment.
“Well what Andrew talked about with me was this idea of a gatekeeper but there are huge first amendment rights that come into play here – freedom of speech and all that. And he said the people who need to be the gatekeepers are the media to check into these stories,” said Roberts.
Phillips wanted to go even further, asking if “there’s going to come a point where something’s going to have to be done legally” about anonymous bloggers.
“There has to be some point where there’s some accountability. And companies, especially in the media have to stop giving these anonymous bloggers credit,” she said.
Roberts responded that anonymous blogging might benefit from “checks and balances.”
“If you’re in a place like
CNN’s two regulation-happy reporters, think the Sherrod situation can help bring attention to the “necessity” of blogging reform if she brings a defamation lawsuit against Andrew Breitbart.
According to Roberts, Sherrod has “the power now and she also has the profile to maybe bring this into a new light, so we’ll see where this goes.”
Phillips ended by adding, “Well a lot of people will jump on board, that’s for sure.”