This is a 21st century story. Future historians won’t be able to make sense of this.
So after Trump tweeted a GIF of himself in his days as an occasional WWE character tackling and beating a wrestler with the CNN logo edited onto his face….
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 2, 2017
… CNN found the Reddit user who initially created the image. The same Reddit user, named HanAssholeSolo by the way, previously posted pictures of CNN staff with Stars of David next to their heads and the text “Something strange about CNN…can’t quite put my finger on it.”
The user apologized after CNN published the story saying they knew his identity.
The apology ended with a call for peace: “This is one individual that you will not see posting hurtful or hateful things in jest online. This is my last post from this account and I wanted to do it on a positive note and hopefully it will heal the controversy that this all caused.”
Why not? Because CNN said they wouldn’t publish his name due to his remorse, but that “CNN reserves the right to publish his identity should any of that change.”
Trumpers said the apology was essentially forced by CNN’s “blackmail”. #CNNBlackmail was the top trending Twitter topic this morning, thanks to the efforts of a furious Trump Internet, who had concluded that HanAssholeSolo’s apology was forced by a “threat” from CNN. The (untrue) news being circulated by Trumpers is that the meme creator is a 15 year old kid (CNN has confirmed that he is a grown man).
There is, I suppose, an ethical question of whether a news outlet should withhold the identity of a private citizen who posted extremely offensive things online on the apparent condition that they behave better in the future. CNN said there has been no agreement with the man at all, but Trumpers insist the “extortion” is inferred. I personally don’t have a problem with it.
Sure, the optics of it look bad. It looks like a multi-billion dollar corporation is dangling a potentially damaging story over a private individual unless he cooperates is where the network runs into trouble. Were CNN to simply explained why it wasn’t publishing the identity of the user, without adding a caveat that the network “reserves the right” to change its mind later, this wouldn’t have been a story.
First things first: Posting things online that you don’t want associated with your name—whether because they are stupid, racist, or just plain embarrassing—is generally not a great idea. Only the most careful of internet users can avoid detection by online sleuths, and there is no right to privacy if you are posting things publicly.
Secondly, racists, sexists, anti-Semites and other bigots are not entitled to anonymity just because they are private citizens. Most trolls aren’t as lucky as HanAssholeSolo: Their names are typically plastered across the internet, and quickly find themselves out of a job and unemployable by anyone with enough wherewithal to run a Google search on applicants. Employers—to say nothing of friends and family—arguably have a right to know about an individual’s judgment in widely sharing their personal beliefs online.
There is some irony here, considering that President Donald Trump himself was recently accused of blackmailing MSNBC personalities Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski (an accusation that seems to have the left some trolls unmoved).
But the meme that Trump supporters have picked up and spread is a mix of fact and fiction, and it seems an odd thing for Trumpers to hang their hat on. Not only are the hostile toward actual REAL news, but they are hostile when actual REAL news exposes those who are hostile. These people do not like the light.
This should be the final word:
CNN statement on the HanAssholeSolo story pic.twitter.com/mf2tilu9UB
— Steven Perlberg (@perlberg) July 5, 2017