Friday roundup: Ombud questions Code Switch policies; appeals court affirms dismissal of Clash lawsuits

By Andrew Lapin

Clash and Elmo. (Photo: PBS)

• NPR’s race and culture blog Code Switch is again drawing criticism from CPB’s ombudsman over how it moderates comments on web posts. Ombud Joel Kaplan issued a report Thursday responding to complaints from Code Switch reader Chris Vandenberg, who said that moderators had deleted his comments and left up other comments accusing him of racism.

Kaplan’s office tried for six weeks to contact the Code Switch team for a response, but to no avail. “It would be nice if Code Switch would actually wake up and address Mr. Vandenberg’s problems,” Kaplan wrote.

In a post in January, Kaplan also critiqued Code Switch’s approach to moderating comments.

• The U.S. Court of Appeals has affirmed the dismissal of three sex abuse lawsuits filed against Kevin Clash, the former Elmo puppeteer on Sesame Street. Citing the statute of limitations, the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New York upheld March 10 an earlier district court ruling that threw out the cases. The first lawsuit against Clash, filed in Pennsylvania, remains pending; its accuser was recently sentenced to three months in prison for theft, reports Penn Live.

Clash, who brought global fame to Elmo by developing the character’s voice and personality, resigned from Sesame Street in November 2012 after two accusers sued him.

• Amid media attention on streaming TV devices in the wake of Aereo’s Supreme Court arguments, tech company Rabbit TV announced FreeCast, an extension of its “eMedia guide” service that will aggregate online programs from national networks, including PBS. In a press release Thursday, Rabbit TV — which also markets a Roku-like device for streaming TV content over the Internet — shared few details about the service’s workings, but it promoted PBS as a network the service would enable online access to, along with others including The CW and Univision.

• A student newspaper at a college in Amarillo, Texas, has urged readers to watch PBS, despite public TV’s reputation of being for “toddlers and old people.” In an editorial published Thursday, Amarillo College’s The Ranger encouraged students to watch programs on local Panhandle PBS, including Downton Abbey, Independent Lens and Austin City Limits. “While it’s true that PBS was important to us when we were kids, it also has programs that still can be important to us as adults,” editors wrote. Amarillo College holds the license for Panhandle PBS.

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