During a panel discussion on Tuesday's NBC Today about whether websites should prevent people from commenting anonymously in order to reduce offensive rhetoric, attorney Star Jones made an over-the-top comparison: "I equate it a little bit to what the KKK used to do, in terms of being under the mask....Well, the mask of the web is giving anonymity to these kinds of people, and it's time to take the hoods off." [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]
Fellow pundit Donny Deutsch proclaimed: "I actually think any media outlet that allows that [anonymous comments] is being irresponsible."
Well, perhaps the Today show staff should take a look at some of the offensive anonymous comments on their own website in response to a story about a man sneaking into the Vatican:
Here is a full transcript of the March 5 exchange:
MATT LAUER: Here's one that Star brought to my attention, okay? Patrick Pexton, who's leaving his post as the ombudsman for the Washington Post, wrote a letter to readers and staff recently, talked about the online comments section of the Post's website and sounded the alarm. He said, quote, "Early on, I was a fan of the give-and-take and anonymous nature of this electronic Hyde Park corner. Now I am not." He went on to talk about the fact that some of the comments are often crude, ugly, racist, and sexist, because people feel emboldened by that anonymity. Is it a good idea to do away with the anonymity, make people file those comments with their real name right next to them?
NANCY SNYDERMAN: Yes. In a public forum you want to own your opinion, you own your name and your likeness right next to it.
DONNY DEUTSCH: Of course it is. We all know, I am actually stunned sometimes at the level of disgusting disdain...
JONES: And vitriol.
DEUTSCH: ...every time somebody disagrees with you, "You Jew." I mean it's insanity what goes on out there. So let's put some names against it.
SNYDERMAN: I agree, I agree.
DEUTSCH: I actually think any media outlet that allows that is being irresponsible.
JONES: I equate it a little bit to what the KKK used to do, in terms of being under the mask. When you're under the mask, you're allowed to say and do anything you want to. Well, the mask of the web is giving anonymity to these kinds of people, and it's time to take the hoods off.
LAUER: What's it going to do to the discourse on these websites?
SNYDERMAN: Hopefully it will elevate it.
LAUER: Is going to lower the number exchanges? I mean, are fewer people going to log on and leave comments because they have to put their name there?
SNYDERMAN: If it lowers the number but elevates the quality, I'm 100% for it.
DEUTSCH: It's a no-brainer, this one's a no-brainer.
LAUER: By the way, the Miami Herald recently went to that system.
LAUER: You've got to put your name there, and you have to log on through Facebook.
SNYDERMAN: Own it.
LAUER: So you own your comments.