"Many prominent companies, including AT&T, Microsoft, and Village Voice Media, not to mention major newspapers and other upstanding South Carolina businesses feature more 'adult services' ads than does craigslist, some of a very graphic nature," Buckmaster writes. He then links to 11 not-safe-for-work Web pages of other publications.
On one level, he's only stating the obvious: Adult ads have long run in print publications. And law enforcement officials haven't generally objected to such ads -- at least not to the extent that McMaster is complaining about Craigslist. One reason has to be that such ads help the police make arrests. How many other lawbreakers advertise their intentions?
Still, the question remains, why is McMaster attacking Craigslist and not ads in news publications? One reason could be that it's fashionable right now to pick on Craigslist, given the recent attention paid to the site in light of the murder of masseuse Julissa Brisman. She was allegedly killed by a student who had answered an ad for "erotic massage" she placed on Craigslist
But there might also be another explanation for why McMaster publicly objects to Craigslist ads and not ads on the pages of Village Voice Media: Craigslist is an easier target than news publications because condemning news outlets for ads they run would be perceived as an attack on journalism itself. After all, at least some of those ads subsidize news reporting and writing.
Craigslist, on the other hand, is seen as taking ad dollars away from journalistic enterprises, hastening the demise of newspapers. That perception might not be fair, but it seems to have left Craigslist without as many people circling the wagons for the company.
Yes, digital rights groups like the Electronic Frontier Foundation support Craigslist. But it's not yet clear whether the same First Amendment advocates who typically defend the media's right to run graphic not-safe-for-work ads will just as vociferously speak up for Craigslist.