Website Owner Compares Himself to Librarian
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This episode of "Anderson" airs on Thursday, November 10, 2011.
Nik Richie compares his website, The Dirty.com, to that of a modern day library.
Tags: anderson cooper nik richie thedirty.com television librarian tv internet
Added: 3 years ago
[Anderson Cooper is speaking with both Sarah Jones and Nik Richie via satellite]
NIK: You have to understand, maybe my view is a little bit different, but let me put this in terms that people will get it. Yes, Anderson's right. The law, y'know, the CDA, Section 230 protects what I do, but form a layman's standpoint ... Y'know, let's put it in terms of this is a modern-day library. Y'know, I'm just the librarian, you can go after a person just because you don't like them.
ANDERSON: Okay, first of all ... Nik, Nik. My cousin's a librarian in Mississippi, and she will freak out that you are comparing yourself to a librarian.
NIK: Anderson, this is a new time. This is the internet.
ANDERSON: But Nik ... Lemmee explain to you, you're not a librarian, because librarians don't stack the shelves with porn and smut, and if they did, they would be fired.
NIK: I told you Anderson, if you've actually gone to my site, we break national stories.
SARAH: I've went to the site, I went to the site yesterday.
NIK: This is, this is just one case.
ANDERSON: Nik, this isn't just one case. There's multiple postings where people are calling women "whores." Where they're saying all sorts of things about women that are completely unverifiable.
NIK: Anderson, look at the images. Anderson, look at the images. Anderson, I get thousands of submissions a day. We have twenty three million people that are going to this site, this isn't something that--
ANDERSON: Right, but you have no idea if what they're saying is true or not. You have no fact-checking, you have no way. You just put up whatever you think is gonna--
NIK: But I'm not a journalist, Anderson. That's not my job.
ANDERSON: You're certainly not a journalist.
NIK: That's not my job.
NIK: A librarian doesn't read every single book in the library.
ANDERSON: Uh, well actually, yeah. A librarian knows what is in the library. You know what's in the library, and you're choosing to put false things in this library, in your online site. You are putting lies in, and you know it. You acknowledge, yes, that some of this stuff is not true.
NIK: But Anderson, it's not ... Listen, I have a disclaimer, saying this is gossip and--
ANDERSON: Yes or no, do you acknowledge that this is not true? That some of these things that you are posting are not true?
NIK: Well, it's weird, because in--
ANDERSON: No no, just yes or no. Do you acknowledge that it's true, that some of these things are not true?
NIK: I couldn't tell you if it's true or not.
Imagine discovering one day, out of nowhere, someone is posting photos and spreading lies about you on the Internet -- lies that trash your character and impact your career. That's exactly what happened to Sarah Jones.
Sarah Jones was living what she says was a normal life -- a high school English teacher in a relationship with a man she is now married to, and as a hobby, member of the Cincinnati Bengals cheerleading squad. In October 2009 she received a call that changed her life. The phone call came from one the Bengals players who told her they saw a posting on TheDirty.com which claimed she had been spotted around town with a Cincinnati Bengals player and had sex with the entire Bengals football team.
"That's what it said," says Jones. "That I had been seen out around Cincinnati with several football players... the picture is taken out of context because it's taken at a charity event we did for Toys for Tots." After seeing the October postings on the website, where people are encouraged to "submit dirt," she contacted the site and begged them to take it down.
Jones says that she kind of let it go after the October posting, but when she saw another posting in December, claiming she had STDs and had sex in her classroom, she says she broke down, threw up and had a panic attack.
Because local news got wind of the story, Jones contacted school officials. "One day I was this credible teacher that they looked up to and listened to," says Jones. "The next day I was a slut to them. I had a student come in and say I cannot come into my classroom and learn because you had sex in here and you're a slut."
Jones says she had to have a conversation with the 15-year-old students in her class to clear her name -- telling them she did not have an STD and does not sleep around.
"I don't teach elementary school. I teach high school," says Jones. "These kids Google me. They see things. If it's on the Internet, it's real to them. They believe it." Regardless of trying to clear her name, parents told Jones that they did not want their children in her class.
For the first time, Jones and the man responsible for TheDirty.com, Nik Richie, come face to face on "Anderson."
"Nik, why did you create a site that allows people to spread lies and hurts people?" asks Anderson.
"Here's the thing, Anderson. It's more than just lies. TheDirty.com is the first ever reality Internet site. Reality TV is so big, I thought of an idea like no one's doing reality Internet. Let me start the site."
Richie continues, "It's not lies. What we do is we get posts from all over the world. In Sarah's case, she was a cheerleader. People were submitting pictures of her half naked as a cheerleader, and she was a teacher. And since then, I apologized to this girl. She just is constantly going on."
Jones says this is the first time she had had any contact with him. "This is not a battle between me and him," says Jones. "He didn't post me on there. But it's his website. The fact that someone can sleep at night and have a website that ruins people's lives, I didn't ask for this. I'm not a celebrity... I'm 26 years old... and the fact that he can do this to people, it's completely delusional to me."
Nik continues by comparing his website to that of a modern day library. "I'm just a librarian. You can't go after the person just because you don't like them."
"First of all, Nik, my cousin's a librarian in Mississippi, and she will freak out that you are comparing yourself to a librarian," says Anderson. "You're not a librarian, because librarians don't stack the shelves with porn and smut. And if they did, they would be fired."
Jones' complete conversation with Richie airs Thursday, November 10 on "Anderson."
It's bad enough that some supermarket tabloids trade on fabricated stories to sell copies in order to feed the public's appetite for useless details about whomever and whatever. Now, there's a blog that deals in gossip and satire, and proud of it. And it's getting the owner of the blog in deep trouble.
Nik Richie is the man in charge of TheDirty.com, which made headlines after it became public knowledge that the blog accepted an anonymous posting that has destroyed the character of a high school English teacher who moonlights as a Cincinnati Bengals cheerleader.
Sarah Jones has said that because of the lies spread via TheDirty, some of her students have refused to take her class, believing the unsubstantiated garbage to be fact. Sarah happens to be happily married, but according to TheDirty, she's supposedly been with several Bengals players and has contracted sexually transmitted diseases, among other things. In an effort to set the record straight, Mrs. Jones was given an opportunity to confront Richie on national television. The meeting airs tomorrow on Anderson Cooper's syndicated talk show. According to a Yahoo! article, Richie compares himself to a librarian, and claims to have no control over the posts. Having checked out the site myself, I see a disclaimer that says Richie is not responsible for the content. Au contraire!
What Richie is doing is inviting trouble of the worst kind. For one thing, he made the wrong comparison. Instead of likening himself to a librarian, and defaming librarians all over the world in the process, he should've compared himself to radio shock jocks like Howard Stern, Opie & Anthony, et al, who encourage the nothing-happening, small-minded Tom, Dick, & Harry Jabronies of the world to go ahead and invent stories on the air with no regard to consequences or repercussions.
The way I look at it is this. If you don't have proof to back up your claims, then back off. In case you haven't noticed, not all tabloids see the same story the same way. If they've all got the same cover subject, say for example, last week's celebrity flavor, Kim Kardashian, they'll have a different spin on the same story, creating further tension where it isn't needed. What Nik Richie has to concern himself with is the prospect of a defamation of character lawsuit lodged against him because he's serving as an enabler to a bunch of goofs with little or no regard for common courtesy. A woman's careers are being unfairly decimated, and why is that? We don't know the root cause, and maybe never will, unless Anderson gets to the bottom of the matter, or someone else does later, but what we do know is that for being an enabler and a Pied Piper to a legion of would-be tabloid writers, Nik Richie gets a pair of weasel ears. If he can actually find it within himself to hand up the jabroni(es) responsible for the defamation of Sarah Jones, we'll find a way to send them weasel ears, too.