“We are winning!”
– Iraqi Information Minister Muhammed Saeed al-Sahaf, declaring victory in the aftermath of the 2003 invasion, adding “We have them surrounded in their tanks.”
South Carolina Attorney General Henry McMaster pulls an “al-Sahhaf” by declaring victory in the Craigslist debacle:
Columbia, SC – “The defensive legal action craigslist has taken against the solicitors and my office is good news. It shows that craigslist is taking the matter seriously for the first time
More importantly, overnight they have removed the erotic services section from their website, as we asked them to do. And they are now taking responsibility for the content of their future advertisements. If they keep their word, this is a victory for law enforcement and for the people of South Carolina.
Unfortunately, we had to inform them of possible state criminal violations concerning their past practices to produce a serious response. We trust they will now adhere to the higher standards they have promised. This office and the law enforcement agencies of South Carolina will continue to monitor the site to make certain that our laws are respected.”
That’s nice. But here’s the truth. On May 13 Craigslist announced it would remove the erotic services category on its site. Despite that announcement and the subsequent removal of all pornographic and prostitution ads on the South Carolina Craigslist site, McMaster threatened criminal action against Craigslist management.
The reason? McMaster doesn’t care about Craigslist. But he does care about becoming the governor of South Carolina, and Craigslist is an easy target. He needs the press to see him taking a tough stance on crime, and a faraway but high profile startup is his meal ticket.
But Craigslist stood firm, and today filed a lawsuit in federal court against McMaster seeking declaratory relief and a restraining order.
McMaster’s statement declaring victory came after that lawsuit. And what he’s really doing is running away from a situation that has become a little too hard for him to handle. Craigslist bit back. He’s moving on to easier targets.
So pop the champagne bottles, another bad guy was disgraced today.