Every once in a while you read a story about someone trying to smoke bees out of their house and burning down the house. The other day there was a story about a man who accidentally burned down his garage trying to use fireworks to kill bees. Now we have the CNN story about the anonymous Reddit troll.
The story is a bit more complex than the 140 character outrage on Twitter.
First, if I understand the story correctly, the guy who did the gif that President Trump tweeted out body slamming CNN as a wrestler is apparently also the same guy who did a picture of CNN employees showing how many Jews were on the payroll. The implication is that Jews run CNN and it was circulated by a bunch of white nationalists.
But most people focused on the gif because that was what CNN mostly focused on as well.
So CNN, through some good reportorial detective work, is able to track down the anonymous troll. Had CNN done a story that mentioned the guy’s name and what he had done, I would have had no problem with the story. Like it or not, the gif tweeted by the President of the United States had news value and who authored it is part of the story. No one in the White House had authored it.
But CNN did more than that. At the conclusion of the story, CNN’s staff wrote it to effectively say, “We know who you are and if you do anything else we don’t like we can out you,” which is an implicit threat.
They are trying to walk it back now and say that’s not what they meant, but that is how any reasonable person would have read what was written. Had they instead just written a story that they tracked down the anonymous troll, who an X years old white male who apologized and deleted his account, end of story. But the reservation at the end went beyond that.
Likewise, if CNN was not going to out the troll, why tell us any of that to begin with?
Let’s not give the troll a pass here. If, as I understand it, he also did the anti-Semitic graphic, I would have had no problem at all if CNN had identified him. Just because one wants to be anonymous does not give one a right to stay anonymous.
And if I had the story wrong and this guy only did the CNN-wrestling gif, so what? It is still a news story.
Unfortunately, CNN did none of that. Instead, the way they wrote the story, they held his identity over his head with an implicit threat. CNN went from taking the moral high ground in a pissing contest with the President and behaving like a troll themselves.