On the actual episode of Anderson Cooper 360 on which this aired, Lyon went on to note (emphasis mine): "Jim Buckmaster says they work tirelessly with law enforcement. So we've been conducting the majority of this investigation out of Washington, D.C. It's one of the worst cities in the nation for sex trafficking. We spoke with the local PD here. They say they have never been contacted by Craigslist, and Craigslist is not working tirelessly to help them out in their investigations."
Craigslist is a company making more than $35 million a year from its "adult services" ads. They won't admit they've got no way of knowing whether an ad is selling consensual sex with an adult, because that would force them to acknowledge they're profiting from rape and human trafficking, and that might affect their revenue stream, which is more important to them than protecting women and children from sexual violence.
They just want to be able to say, "Well, we're not profiting from it deliberately," and have that be good enough.
"Jessica," age 20 (in voiceover, over images of her sitting, walking, putting on makeup at a vanity; she is seen only from the neck down, to preserve her anonymity): I don't know. The men just disgust me. Everything about them, they disgust me. You know, doing the things I do with them is just not, like I said, what I pictured myself doing when I was a kid. You know, I wanted to work with animals, and—or be a meteorologist or a doctor or something, not a whore.
Amber Lyon, CNN Correspondent (sitting on a hotel room bed w/ Jessica, whose back is to the camera): Why Craigslist?
Jessica: Craigslist is just the quickest, fastest, easiest way to get money.
Lyon (in voiceover, over images of Craigslist ads on a computer screen): We found 20-year-old Jessica after spotting her ad on the Virginia adult services section of Craigslist. (on camera) So, you spend most of your life in a hotel room like this?
Jessica: For the past two to three years, yes.
Lyon: How—how many guys do you sleep with on an average day?
Jessica: Three to five, on an average day.
Lyon: How—how much money is that?
Jessica: I get $150 for a half an hour and $250 for the hour. That's what I charge, I mean.
Lyon (in voiceover, over images of Craigslist ads on a computer screen): Jessica says she and most of the girls she knows who sell sex on Craigslist are being trafficked by pimps, who take their money and their freedom. (on camera): What would happen if they said, you know, "I'm sick of this, I'm done selling myself on Craigslist, I want to leave"…?
Jessica: I can't leave. I cannot leave. I'm his. I'm his property. He owns me. I cannot leave him. And that's how it is with most girls, I would think. They can't.
Lyon (sitting at an outdoor café): Since our investigation aired last week, anti-sex-trafficking organizations took out an ad in the Washington Post.—and, in it, two girls who claim they were sold for sex on Craigslist plea with Craig to shut down the adult services section. They even addressed the letter to Craig. (in voiceover, over images of the text, and then video of Lyon looking at Buckmaster's blog post, the images of police reports): One of the girls says, "I was sold for sex by the hour at truck stops and cheap motels, 10 hours with 10 different men every night. This became my life. Men answered the Craigslist advertisements and paid to rape me." Another one of these girls was underage when she was being sold on Craigslist. And she writes, "Dear Craig, I am MC. I was first forced into prostitution when I was 11 years old by a 28-year-old man. I am not an exception." So, Craigslist CEO Jim Buckmaster wrote a response to the Washington Post ad. He wrote this blog—Buckmaster says, "Craigslist is anxious to know that the perpetrators in these girls' cases are behind bars." He asks the advocates to email him the police the reports, so "Craigslist can improve preventative measures." CNN has seen the police report for the so-called AK; MC is still a minor, so her records could not be released, but two sources tell us they have seen her arrest records for prostitution. (sitting outdoors with Saar): This is Malika with The Rebecca Project, and her organization posted that ad in the Washington Post.
Malika Saada Saar, Founder and Executive Director of The Rebecca Project: I think that it's also important for him to acknowledge that the stories of these girls are true. It's thoughtful that he wants to catch the perpetrators. I think if he wants to catch perpetrators, then he ought create better screening processes, so that children aren't raped and sold online.
Lyon (in voiceover, over images of Craigslist adult services ads, with female faces blurred out, then over footage of Newmark): Sex-for-hire ads are against Craigslist's stated policy. The company says it, quote, "manually screens all adult services ads" and will reject any that look or sound like they are selling sex. We caught up with the Craig in Craigslist, Craig Newmark, at a speech he was giving in Washington, D.C., on trust. He agreed to this interview on trust on the Internet. (on camera, speaking face-to-face with Newmark): What are you guys doing to protect these girls?
(Newmark stands and stares, silently, at Lyon for seven seconds, with a smirk on his face. After seven seconds, the video cuts off and jumps to another question.)
Lyon (showing Newmark a printed Craigslist ad): You guys say in the blog that you will remove any ad that looks like the person might be suggesting they're going to offer sex. Look at this ad. It says, "Young, sexy, sweet, and bubbly." Clearly here she writes "$250 an hour." I mean, what do you think she's selling in her bra and underwear—a dinner date? And she's in her bra and underwear. What are you guys doing?
Newmark: Have you reported this to us?
Lyon: But you guys say you screen all these ads manually in your blog.
Newmark: Have you—I have never—I don't know what this is.
Lyon: But in Jim Buckmaster's blog, he says these are being screened.
Newmark: Have you reported—have you reported this to us?
Lyon: Why do I have the responsibility to report this to you, when it's your website? You are the one posting this online.
(Newmark stares at her silently again until video cuts.)
Lyon (in voiceover, over more images of ads): Under the Communications Decency Act, Craigslist is not liable for what users publish on its site. But if Craigslist knows it's happening and vows to stop it, why do they allow it to continue? Victims' advocates say it's about one thing: Money. The Internet research firm AIM Group projects the site will make $36.5 million, a third of its total revenue, from the adult services ads this year. (edit; Lyon is sitting in a studio onscreen): After our first story aired, we were contacted by Craigslist CEO Jim Buckmaster, and he sent CNN this response: He says, "Craigslist is vigilant in barring child sex ads and prominently features anti-trafficking and –exploitation sites." He also says, quote, "We will continue to work tirelessly in tandem with law enforcement and key nonprofits to ensure that any of these victims receive the assistance they desperately need and deserve." Amber Lyon, CNN, Washington.
[The video cuts off here, but on the actual show, Lyon went on to note: "Jim Buckmaster says they work tirelessly with law enforcement. So we've been conducting the majority of this investigation out of Washington, D.C. It's one of the worst cities in the nation for sex trafficking. We spoke with the local PD here. They say they have never been contacted by Craigslist, and Craigslist is not working tirelessly to help them out in their investigations."]