Craigslist faces new wave of political attacks

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A year ago, Craigslist founder Craig Newmark was busy touting e-government, promoting neighborhood social networks, and blogging about squirrel-proofing his bird feeder.

But now the 57-year-old entrepreneur is spending his days in more nerve-wracking pursuits: responding to attacks from ambitious attorneys general, legal threats from antiprostitution advocacy groups that sometimes seem to be actually anti-Craigslist, and critical articles written by journalists employed by the same newspapers that his company is helping to slowly eviscerate.

And now, two sources have told CNET, a congressional committee has asked Newmark to testify at a hearing in Washington, D.C. on Wednesday afternoon on the topic of “domestic minor sex trafficking.” About the only thing that might make matters worse, perhaps, would be President Obama himself joining the anti-Craigslist fray.

This political onslaught would present a formidable challenge even to companies like BP that have spent millions of dollars armoring themselves with lobbyists and accruing ex-congressmen on their payrolls. For a San Francisco-based company that continues to employ only around 30 people and has found itself the target of so much official obloquy, it could be an existential threat.


For his part, Newmark recently pointed out that even though the nation’s eighth-most-popular Web site bears his name, his actual title remains customer service representative. Jim Buckmaster has been the chief executive for the last decade.

“Craigslist has a CEO,” said Jim Harper, a policy analyst at the libertarian Cato Institute. “Inviting Craig Newmark puts spectacle ahead of substance. It’s like inviting Tony the Tiger to a hearing on childhood nutrition.”

Full story: Craigslist faces new wave of political attacks | CNET News