CNN Disgraced Itself and Free Speech by Threatening Trump Supporter Over Meme

“Julian Assange tweeted some interesting aspects of New York law that suggests that CNN may be in violation of specific legal regulations.”

I prefer a balanced diet of media outlets. I check Politico for the most recent political insider updates. I check OpsLens for military and professional views. I dig through the Wall Street Journal for a generally more conservative angle and The Washington Post for a more liberal slant. Previously, I’d check CNN for the daily global updates, but I’m going to have to find a replacement.

Why? CNN has disgraced itself, the media, and free speech in general by doxxing a Reddit user and threatening to release his or her information because s/he created a comical GIF that shows President Trump body slamming a CNN logo. Apparently, CNN is only planning to withhold the user’s information if s/he pledges to never act naughty on the Internet again. You see, CNN’s feelings were deeply hurt by the “grievous” act.

In case you’re not up-to-date on the case, a Reddit user released a funny, simple meme that used one of the old clips of Donald Trump at a wrestling match. In the original clip, Trump body slams a wrestler to the ground and punches him several times in the face. In the satirical GIF, the head of the wrestler is replaced with CNN’s logo, and Trump proceeds to “beat” CNN up.

If you haven’t seen the clip, you can watch it here:

The GIF showed up last Wednesday and made rounds on social media, including Reddit and its popular r/The_Donald subreddit, where the creator apparently bragged about getting attention from President Trump. This past Saturday, President Trump tweeted it, thus drawing far, far more attention. As you can probably guess, the president rather enjoyed the GIF. Owing to his long-running quarrel with CNN and “fake news” allegations, his enjoyment should come as no surprise.

Hilariously, CNN posted an article on its own website bragging about threatening the user, who went under the user name “HanA**holeSolo.” The network’s “Kfile” dug through the user’s history and was eventually able to hunt him/her down. CNN then emailed the citizen and forced them to write a lengthy apology and to beg forgiveness for apparently promoting violence against the media (LOL!). Sorry CNN, that GIF is something called satire, which is protected quite extensively under the Constitution and American law in general, and for good reason.

Further, Internet activist Julian Assange tweeted some interesting aspects of New York law that suggests that CNN may be in violation of specific legal regulations. (It is unclear, however, where jurisdiction lies, as CNN is headquartered in Atlanta.)

After today, it’s impossible to defend CNN. The company’s doxxing of a Reddit user is completely inappropriate and quite possibly illegal. Besides the legal issues noted above, doing so also violates Reddit’s website rules, and sorry CNN, you must play by the rules too.

Most importantly, however, CNN’s actions are an assault on free speech. By hunting down a user, CNN is not only attempting to suppress “HanA**holeSolo” but is also trying to intimidate anyone who might publish anything that could hurt their feelings. Indeed, CNN bragged in their own article that they were setting an example to other people who might offend their precious feelings.

Ultimately, the message is clear—mock the multi-billion-dollar media giant and they’ll come after you, and if they can, they’ll hold you hostage. This is a grave and serious assault on our democracy, and we the people should not tolerate it.

To be clear, we should all be outraged by this, and our outrage shouldn’t be driven by the fact that it’s CNN. Whether it was the New York Times, BBC, Fox News, Breitbart, or even OpsLens, everyone should be mad. This isn’t a left or right or conservative or liberal issue, but instead an issue of free speech. As Americans who have just wrapped up our Independence Day celebrations, we should remember that our struggle against such tyranny has always been a part of our identity.

Previously, I’ve been somewhat defensive of the oft-maligned CNN. Many of the “fake news” charges, in my opinion, don’t appear to pass muster. CNN isn’t the most reliable of sources, it’s true, but if you dig into the facts and data, you’ll struggle to paint it as any less reliable or more biased than, say, Fox News or Breitbart. However, it’s difficult to defend a news network that violates people’s rights in such an ugly and blatant fashion.

After today, I plan to consciously avoid CNN, especially if they don’t issue a full apology, and not just to the Reddit user they doxxed, but also America and the world as a whole. Their actions were absolutely disgraceful and an affront to free speech and the media itself. And yes, CNN, I write under my real name, so you don’t have to doxx me.

Brian Brinker

Brian Brinker is a political consultant and has an M.A in Global Affairs from American University.

Join the conversation!

We have no tolerance for comments containing violence, racism, vulgarity, profanity, all caps, or discourteous behavior. Thank you for partnering with us to maintain a courteous and useful public environment where we can engage in reasonable discourse.