The Twitter world blew up on Tuesday night when CNN announced they had located the Reddit user who created the Trump/CNN wrestling GIF that was shared by the president.
To be clear, the issue wasn’t CNN locating the original creator of the video – that’s fair for a media company to do. Controversy sparked when an official statement by CNN appeared to indicate that they had threatened to dox the Redditor should he repeat his behavior.
Here CNN announced they had located HanAssholeSolo, the Redditor who created the infamous GIF of Trump slamming someone with a CNN logo superimposed over his head:
EXCLUSIVE: CNN tracked down the Reddit user behind the Trump wrestling GIF. Now he’s apologizing. https://t.co/elrluxS5dm
— CNN Politics (@CNNPolitics) July 5, 2017
But now read this statement carefully from CNN reporter Andrew Kaczynski:
“CNN is not publishing [Redditor’s] name because he is a private citizen who has issued an extensive statement of apology, showed his remorse by saying he has taken down all his offending posts and because he said he is not going to repeat this ugly behavior on social media again… CNN reserves the right to publish his identity should any of that change.”
My god. What was CNN thinking when they published this statement? Actually, the better question is: when did CNN get into the blackmailing business?
CNN was given a gift when President Trump tweeted Sunday a GIF of him body slamming their logo. The tweet made them look like a victim and gave them some sympathy during a time when everything else is going so wrong for the major media outlet. Remember: CNN just had to let go of several staffers after a botched Trump-Russia story published by them turned out to be factual malarkey. Project Veritas has released hidden footage by the day of CNN bigwigs speaking candidly about pushing conspiracies. They also just fired Kathy Griffin and Reza Aslan over impropriety towards the president.
The Trump tweet was a gift, but they decided to royally screw it up. Many commentators took to Twitter to express their disbelief in CNN seemingly blackmailing someone into “behaving” correctly:
— Philip DeFranco (@PhillyD) July 5, 2017
— Scott Taylor (@Scotttaylorva) July 5, 2017
— Stephen Miller (@redsteeze) July 5, 2017
#CNNblackmail quickly became the top trending hashtag on Twitter.
Confusion has followed as to who exactly contacted whom first. It appeared CNN (by their own reporting) contacted the Reddit user first – making for more of a blackmail theme. After a tsunami of bad press, CNN reporter Andrew Kaczynski insisted the Redditor contacted them first. However, the internet never forgets:
The lawyer in me notes that these two tweets are not necessarily inconsistent https://t.co/BUT36ElhbH
— Conn Carroll (@conncarroll) July 5, 2017
There are also conflicting statements as to the age of the Redditor. We know through the use of pronouns by CNN that he is, in fact, a he, but we are not sure about his age. Many are saying he is 15 years old, but Kaczynski is insisting the Reddit user is a middle-aged man.
Whatever the case, it is safe to say CNN did not do themselves any favors by seemingly blackmailing an internet troll into good behavior – then reporting on said blackmail for the world to see.