Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) took to his Twitter account to explain why CNN might have committed a crime when they threatened to expose the identity of a Reddit user to created an animated video the president later tweeted.
The public furor over the controversy has prompted some to wonder if CNN committed an act of extortion or coercion.
A user of the Reddit social media platform claimed that he was the creator of the animated video the president tweeted intended to mock CNN, but some called an incitement to violence.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 2, 2017
CNN’s Andrew Kaczynski said that he figured out the man’s identity by using autobiographical details he had left in his social media footprint. He contacted the man on Monday, but before they communicated, he deleted his online posts and published a lengthy apology.
CNN’s article on the event implied that if the man continued in his online trolling that they would reconsider revealing his identity. Kaczynski has vigorously denied the charge that they bullied him into apologizing or that they had ever threatened him.
“Troubling,” Cruz tweeted about the story. “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….'”
Cruz later tweeted another law that CNN might have broken.
“Another relevant crim law: NY § 135.60: ‘A person is guilty of coercion in the second degree when he…induces a person… to abstain from engaging in conduct in which he…has a legal right to engage…by means of instilling…a fear…the actor will… Expose a secret or publicize an asserted fact, whether true or false, tending to subject some person to hatred, contempt or ridicule..”
The backlash to CNN’s actions came not only from the right, but also from some on the left who said that it was thoroughly unethical for a journalist to bully the subject of a story.