Not content to simply lick its wounds, CNN is stubbornly insisting that accusations of blackmail and bullying made against the network on Wednesday stem from a “far-right narrative” concerning the story Andrew Kaczynski wrote about the Reddit user who allegedly created the WWE meme President Trump tweeted last week.
In the “Reliable Sources” email, CNN Senior Media reporter Oliver Darcy told CNN host Brian Stelter that the line which sparked the controversy and accusations of blackmail was “unusual” and “poorly written.”
“When I first read the line, it certainly struck me as unusual -- to say the least. Kaczynski wrote on Twitter it was inserted to underscore that CNN entered into no agreement with "HanA**Solo" about his identity, which makes sense. But the line was poorly written and could have been phrased to more clearly communicate that point.”
Darcy misses the point. It’s not the line, “CNN reserves the right to publish his identity should any of that change,” that’s the sole issue. It’s the context of that line, the two preceding paragraphs of the CNN story that explain how HanAssholeSolo asked CNN to keep his identity secret and promised “he is not going to repeat this ugly behavior on social media again” that create a problem when CNN announces they “reserve the right” to ignore HanAssholeSolo’s request “should any of that change.”
“Poorly written?” The message conveyed is clear for anyone to read. If HanAssholeSolo repeats his “ugly behavior,” CNN is free to publish his identity against his wishes. And so HanAssholeSolo is being threatened by CNN into behaving a certain way or else his identity gets published and he, a private citizen who didn’t even create the meme Trump tweeted, becomes exposed to public scorn.
But ask Oliver Darcy and that simple fact of reading comprehension is a “far-right narrative,” as he told Brian Stelter.
“One thing that struck me Tuesday night was how the narrative about this story was set by individuals on the far-right. Before it received criticism from conventional critics, prominent far-right personalities worked to get ‘#CNNBlackmail’ trending on Twitter. From there, the narrative seeped into the mainstream.”
Stelter then quotes a tweet by BuzzFeedNews’ Deputy News Director Tom Namako comparing the numerous conservative journalists who expressed outrage at CNN’s story to the internet trolls who pushed the #PizzaGate conspiracy theory.
Same pro-Trump media group that whipped the Pizzagate hoax frenzy are using the playbook on CNN. Substance different, tactic similar. Scary.— Tom Namako (@TomNamako) July 5, 2017
In a statement released yesterday, CNN denied any wrongdoing or blackmail, arguing that the inclusion of the controversial line in that story was an effort to be transparent.
"CNN decided not to publish the name of the Reddit user out of concern for his safety. Any assertion that the network blackmailed or coerced him is false. The user, who is an adult male, not a 15-year-old boy, apologized and deleted his account before ever speaking with our reporter. CNN never made any deal, of any kind, with the user. In fact, CNN included its decision to withhold the user's identity in an effort to be completely transparent that there was no deal."
What’s made clear by CNN’s statement and by Reliable Source’s summary is that CNN is completely unapologetic for its breach of ethics, and all criticism of CNN must stem from a vast far-right conspiracy.
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