Outrage exploded against CNN after they published what many called an act of bullying against the creator of a controversial animated image that President Trump posted on his social media account.
In the exclusive published Tuesday, CNN's Andrew Kaczynski touted his investigative prowess in discovering the identity of the person behind "HanA**holeSolo," who first posted the animated image that some saw as an incitement of violence against CNN.
#FraudNewsCNN #FNN https://t.co/WYUnHjjUjg— Donald J. Trump (@Donald J. Trump) 1499001702.0
The animated image showed a scene with Trump from before he was president, assaulting a wrestler on whose face was superimposed the logo of CNN. This inspired outrage from media figures who said it encouraged violence against the press.
In the article entitled, "How CNN found the Reddit user behind the Trump wrestling GIF," Kaczynski explains how he went about discovering the real identity of the Trump supporter from details collected from his social media posts. He explains that the supporter apologized after he was identified and contacted about his posts.
"The apology came after CNN's KFile identified the man behind "HanA**holeSolo." Using identifying information that "HanA**holeSolo" posted on Reddit, KFile was able to determine key biographical details," Kaczynski writes, "to find the man's name using a Facebook search and ultimately corroborate details he had made available on Reddit."
The Reddit user deleted his posts, many of which contained racist and anti-Semitic content widely spread on social media, and issued an apology to CNN on Tuesday, the day after CNN emailed him.
"First of all," he wrote. "I would like to apologize to the members of the reddit community for getting this site and this sub embroiled in a controversy that should never have happened, I would also like to apologize for the posts made that were racist, bigoted, and anti-semitic. I am in no way this kind of person, I love and accept people of all walks of life and have done so for my entire life. I am not the person that the media portrays me to be in real life, I was trolling and posting things to get a reaction from the subs on reddit and never meant any of the hateful things I said in those posts."
"I would never support any kind of violence or actions against others simply for what they believe in, their religion, or the lifestyle they choose to have," he added. "Nor would I carry out any violence against anyone based upon that or support anyone who did."
"The meme was created purely as satire," he continued, "it was not meant to be a call to violence against CNN or any other news affiliation. I had no idea anyone would take it and put sound to it and then have it put up on the President's Twitter feed. It was a prank, nothing more. What the President's feed showed was not the original post that was posted here, but loaded up somewhere else and sound added to it then sent out on Twitter. I thought it was the original post that was made and that is why I took credit for it."
Kaczynski celebrated his exclusive on his social media account, and implied the apology was a result of their contacting the anonymous Reddit user. "This apology came after CNN identified and reached out to HanAssholeSolo. Story and interview w/him posting soon," he tweeted.
Social media reaction was immediate and fierce, even from some Trump critics.
I think the criticism of reporting the story is bogus. But CNN's "we'll report his name later if we decide he's acting wrong" is off-putting— FinlandOrMaybeRussiaHat (@FinlandOrMaybeRussiaHat) 1499220921.0
Count me among those that find's CNNs veiled doxing threat to Han Assh*leSolo very, very ethically shaky. pic.twitter.com/2KwfJV6Ap9
— Brianna Wu (@Spacekatgal) July 5, 2017
"We're not the enemy of the American people. We'll just hunt you down and ruin the life of Americans who make fun of us online"— Stephen L. Miller (@Stephen L. Miller) 1499219441.0
— Stephen Miller (@redsteeze) July 5, 2017
The threat to doxx him is the issue. Either his identity is newsworthy or it isn't. It doesn't *become* newsworthy… https://t.co/OshlyrU59K— Gabriel Malor (@Gabriel Malor) 1499221166.0
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. pic.twitter.com/5bJZIZasH0
— German Lopez (@germanrlopez) July 5, 2017
"We'll hold his identity as long as he seems penitent" is not a good look. https://t.co/qDnOjaRC32— Tom Nichols (@Tom Nichols) 1499221148.0
Note to CNN: random guy making memes isn't the story, *the President using those memes* is.
But this threat from you is now the story.
— Tom Nichols (@RadioFreeTom) July 5, 2017
I think I'm most upset that they explicitly threatened to doxx him if he ever again says something they don't like.… https://t.co/OJqjHUgXsV— Jeff B, fightin' the COVID one bootleg at a time (@Jeff B, fightin' the COVID one bootleg at a time) 1499221099.0
The hashtag about the controversy, "CNN blackmail," was the top trending topic on Twitter for the United States Tuesday evening.
Kaczynski denied the accusations from his social media account, saying, ""HanA**holeSolo" posted his apology before we *ever* spoke him. He called us afterwards to apologize further." He then said that the Reddit user called him and told Kaczynski, "I am in total agreement with your statement. I was not threatened in anyway."