CNN has been defending themselves since writing a story indicating that they would disclose the name of the man responsible for creating the video of the Trump vs. CNN wrestling match unless the video’s creator apologized to the network. The satirical video of Donald Trump beating up a wrestler with a superimposed CNN logo covering his face was tweeted by Trump last week.
The network also hinted at the possibility of releasing the man’s name if he ever spoke ill of the network again. The Reddit user, who goes by the online handle HanA**holeSolo, has been linked to various anti-Semitic memes as well. It has since been reported that the user has apologized to CNN.
Towards the end of the original CNN article, the author of the piece, Andrew Kaczynski, wrote: “CNN reserves the right to publish his identity should any of that change.”
Understandably, many took issue with that statement and the hashtag #CNNBlackmail started to trend on Twitter. The controversial topic has garnered so much publicity that Republican Texas Sen. Ted Cruz took to Twitter stating CNN could face legal trouble over the issue.
“Troubling. I assume CNN’s lawyers are examining GA § 16-8-16 Theft by extortion. If CNN constructively obtained the gif-maker’s IP…it’s a GA crime if they threatened to ‘Disseminate any information tending to subject any person to hatred, contempt, or ridicule….’”
CNN has since released a statement that parts of the article were “misinterpreted.”
Kaczynski also took to Twitter defending the network and his work by writing, “The line is being misinterpreted. It was intended only to mean we made no agreement w/the man about his identity.”
German Lopez, a writer from the left-leaning news outlet Vox, wrote in a tweet, “I can’t emphasize how bad this is on CNN’s part. This is basically ‘don’t post stuff we don’t like or we’ll dox you.’ Extremely unethical,” he wrote.
Julian Assange, the founder of WikiLeaks, chimed in on Twitter claiming that CNN is infringing upon the 1st Amendment rights of the video creator.
Others found no issue with Kaczynski’s controversial line. Conservative radio host, Hugh Hewitt, said there was no issue with the line, it was just “poorly worded.” Kaczynski’s former editor-in-chief at BuzzFeed, Ben Smith, echoed similar sentiments.
CNN is holding firm that the article is being misinterpreted, but how ironic is it that a major news network would write such a poorly written article that misinterpretation was even a possibility?