CNN, already down in the dumps about skewed coverage that led to the departure of three network news staffers, is now walking a Twitter hall of shame with a hashtag that showcases the company as less than honorable — as one and the same with, say, mobsters and the criminal underworld.
#CNNBlackmail soared to the top of trending Twitter feeds in the United States, the somewhat predictable result of the company’s seeming foray into — well, blackmail. And of a private citizen, no less.
Here’s what’s going on: Sunday, President Donald Trump linked a video in his tweet that showed him wrestling CNN to the ground. The video was created by an individual who goes by the Reddit name of HanA**holeSolo.
The video caused quite a disturbance among the candy-eaters of the left, who cried that Trump’s tweet of it constituted a call to violent arms against the media.
Solo then issued a lengthy apology, saying “the meme was created purely as satire” and “was not meant to be a call to violence against CNN or any other news affiliation.”
Obviously, the video was humor.
But the properly chastised Solo went on with his apology, hanging his head to write that “trolling is nothing more than bullying a wide audience” and insisting that he has “the highest respect for the journalist community and they put their lives on the line every day with the jobs that they do.”
CNN, however, wasn’t satisfied — because Trump was unapologetic.
“[It’s] a sad day when the president of the United States encourages violence against reporters,” CNN said in a statement to The Hill.
The blasting away at Trump went on for a bit; CNN also called Sarah Huckabee Sanders, the president’s spokeswoman, a liar for saying her boss “had never done so” — had never encouraged violence against reporters.
But you get the idea. CNN’s mad; Trump must die. Yada yada. Then CNN learned the true identity of Solo and said this: We may or may not publish this guy’s name.
Depending on how things go.
Andrew Kaczynski, senior editor of CNN’s KFile, said in a written statement that CNN has chosen to withhold the man’s identity for the time being “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.”
But then came this rather ominous ending: “CNN reserves the right to publish his identity should any of that change,” Kaczynski wrote.
Was that a threat?
Why yes, yes it does seem to smell of blackmail, doesn’t it.
Social media went nuts.
“CNN Threatens Reddit User for Exercising Free Speech,” tweeted one, Stefan Molyneux, above a photo of Trump’s face with the text, “CNN Blackmail.”
Julian Assange weighed in: “A multi-billion dollar TV network blackmailing a private citizen into not making funny videos about it is not journalism, CNN. #CNNBlackmail.”
So did plenty of others. Another: “Count me among those that [find] CNN’s veiled doxing threat to [HanA**holeSolo] very, very ethically shaky.”
Another: “Is that normal? Is @CNN essentially threatening to dox him, or am I reading that wrong?”
And another, from Mark Dice, media analyst: “The history books will show that on #july4th2017 CNN blackmailed someone who made a joke gif about them. #CNNBlackmail.”
Take a memo, CNN. It’s one thing to go after a president with skewed reporting and agenda-driven partisanship. But it’s quite another to threaten and bully an innocent citizen into silence. The people don’t like that.
And on the day of celebrating the great Declaration of Independence from tyranny and despotic rule. For shame.