CNN has had unarguably the worst time since Donald Trump became President. From being shutdown by the President during a press briefing to being called all sorts of names, the 24-hour Cable News Network has almost become synonymous with Fake News under Trump‘s constant attack.
Of course, this doesn’t mean CNN is losing financially too, contrary to what Trump says, the cable company has reportedly been making cool cash from constant negative Trump covfefe.
CNN has in the past been accused of sub-par news coverage even before Trump came into the picture and long before the company had to accept the resignation of 3 top journalists for publishing a story that was below editorial standards. Last year, the network took a big L for referring to Mark Zuckerberg’s visit to Nigeria as a visit to sub-Saharan Africa.
While all of these were bad, none come close to the blackmail troubles the network is facing right now.
Last weekend, CNN‘s BFF, @realDonaldTrump posted a manipulated video showing him punching “CNN” in WW3 ring. The President received a lot of backlash for being petty and daring to endorse violence as a way of handling criticism.
Not long after, the person who posted the offensive video online originally was identified as a Reddit user called HanAssholeSolo and he immediately proceeded to express his delight at having being reposted by Trump:
“honored,” “Holy s—!! I wake up and have my morning coffee and who retweets my s—post but the MAGA EMPORER himself!!! I am honored!!”
Reports then surfaced that the young man behind the account was a frequent publisher of racist and anti-Semitic content, making it a double loss for the President and CNN, the victim.
CNN then proceeded on Tuesday evening to publish a detailed account of how the Network found and spoke to HanAssholeSolo, who had already apologised for creating the video and other posts that were racist and anti-Semitic, including one that added Jewish stars to photos of CNN personalities.
CNN reporter, Andrew Kaczynski, said he had confirmed the user’s identity and had spoken to him by phone but simply identified him as a “private citizen” and then ended by saying that “CNN reserves the right to publish his identity should any of that change.”
It is this last line that has drawn widespread backlash against the Network with critics referring to the line “as sinister or as a veiled threat”, according to a New York Times post. “A hashtag, #CNNBlackmail, lit up among people, especially on the right, claiming CNN was pressuring the Reddit user not to mock the network again.”
Senator Ted Cruz on Twitter even went as far as to label the story as to suggest CNN may be liable for “theft by extortion”.
(1/2) Troubling. I assume CNN's lawyers are examining GA § 16-8-16 Theft by extortion. If CNN constructively obtained the gif-maker's IP… https://t.co/ChxqocuDgc
— Ted Cruz (@tedcruz) July 5, 2017
While the Network continues to maintain that “CNN decided not to publish the name of the Reddit user out of concern for his safety”, no one appears to believe them even across the political spectrum as the more sympathetic critics have accused the Network of breaching Journalistic ethics.
According to German Lopez, a reporter for Vox, a liberal/left-leaning site by many standards, while CNN was right to withhold the Reddit User‘s personal information, the last line came across as a “don’t post stuff we don’t like or we’ll dox you” kind of veiled threat. This, he considers unethical.
Even friends of the reporter who tried to vouch for his sincerity and good work could not help but call out the bad phrasing.
Known @KFILE a long time online. He dogs me often but fairly + isn't least bit on the dark side. Good reporter; just poorly phrased line.
— Hugh Hewitt (@hughhewitt) July 5, 2017