Craig Newmark: What I Should Have Said to CNN’s Amber Lyon When She Ambushed Me
CNN’s Amber Lyon has been crowing for weeks about scoring an ambush interview against me. Boy, if she only knew that successfully ambushing me is about as big an accomplishment as stealing nuts from one of the birds or squirrels I like to Tweet about.
Here’s the deal. As old time craigslisters know, I’m a hard-wired nerd with symptoms I’m told border on Asperger’s Syndrome. That means I’m too trusting, often socially inept, have difficulty shifting focus, and frequently am unsure what to do in situations others handle easily. And I don’t have a normal person’s ability to sense when someone might be looking to take advantage of these shortcomings.
Amber approached me after an event where I had just spoken about stuff like getting real support for our troops and veterans — a cause I care about and support whenever I can. She said because “I’m the Craig in craigslist,” she expected me to have all the answers on the spot about anything to do with the company. Well, I don’t. Jim Buckmaster, our CEO, has been running craigslist for the last 10 years. I am a customer service rep, and I still love being connected to our users and trying to help people. But I have no role in managing the company’s operations because basically (a) I suck as a manager, and (b) while overall company direction matters to me as founder and a board director, the deal was to hire good, trustworthy people and then get outta the way.
If Amber had done her homework, she would have known ambushing me with questions I am not qualified to answer, or even the right person to ask, would not get CNN’s viewers the accurate information they deserve.
So I should have said, “Hey, thanks, but Jim’s the guy your viewers should hear from.” Instead, I froze and looked clueless, and, worse than that, uncaring. Clueless I definitely am sometimes, but not uncaring. Neither is craigslist and neither is Jim. I know our folks have worked very hard to identify and do the right thing with legitimate versus illegitimate adult service ads. From what I can tell that’s a lot more difficult to do perfectly than is being portrayed by CNN and other media. I know we’re also reaching out to lots of concerned groups and experts for help on these issues, which sure makes sense to me.
Meanwhile, Amber, CNN, and others are depicting Jim and I as profiteers oblivious to the welfare of women and children. Anyone that’s followed us over all these years knows that’s not at all what we’re about. In reality, we’re both pretty obsessed with trying to make the world a better place, and neither have much interest in possessions or fancy lifestyles. Me, I’ll stick to my causes, like doing right by our veterans, keeping the faith on net neutrality, and working toward better governance. And hopefully be a little more perceptive about the true intent of reporters I talk to.
Wish me luck, I’ll need it.
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