CNN anchor muses about legal crackdown on bloggers’ free speech

By: Mark Hemingway
Commentary Staff Writer
07/24/10 1:16 PM EDT

In the wake of the Shirley Sherrod firing, CNN anchor Krya Phillips muses about a rather draconian solution to the problem of misinformation:

“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.

Libel and slander laws apply to bloggers the same as profesional journalists. There already is a legal remedy. This browbeating of bloggers by the MSM — which repeatedly gets things wrong and has a much bigger megaphone to begin with — is a bit much, as Kevin Williamson at NRO observes:

By way of comparison: NBC did not blow up a pick-up truck by accident for their infamous GM hit piece; they rigged the thing in advance. Dan Rather, to this day, has not owned up to basing a story on forged documents. So far as I can tell, Andrew Breitbart is still operating at a higher editorial standard than the producers of Dateline or the CBS Evening News 60 Minutes II did on those occasions. I do not see a lot of opportunity for self-congratulation in this episode for the mainstream media. Breitbart’s 37-word correction is 37 words more than Dan Rather has offered in honest assessment of his story’s shortcomings. May the mainstream media aspire to live up to Breitbart’s standards.

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