What began as a seemingly overblown reaction to a silly internet meme has spiraled into something much bigger: CNN dug up the real-life information of the Reddit user who posted the offending Trump wrestling gif and threatened to reveal it to the world, sparking claims that the network used its corporate clout to frighten and intimidate a private citizen.
“#CNNBlackmail” surged to the top of Twitter’s trending hashtags Tuesday evening after CNN published an article declaring that it had discovered the maker of the Trump meme and extracted an apology.
“CNN is not publishing ‘HanA**holeSolo’s’ name because he is a private citizen who has issued an extensive statement of apology, showed his remorse by saying he has taken down all his offending posts, and because he said he is not going to repeat this ugly behavior on social media again,” the story read in part.
“In addition, he said his statement could serve as an example to others not to do the same. CNN reserves the right to publish his identity should any of that change,” CNN chillingly added.
The apology was posted on Reddit’s pro-Donald Trump board, r/The_Donald, and saw the user describe the meme as a “prank, nothing more.”
In response to the bizarre scandal, a slew of commenters took to Twitter to express their indignation toward CNN for behaving in such an aggressive manner toward the Reddit user.
“Is that normal? Is @CNN essentially threatening to dox him, or am I reading that wrong?” one user wrote, referring to the practice of uncovering an internet user’s personal information and publishing it as a way to get revenge.
“There will now be more anti-CNN memes than ever before. Thank you, @CNN,” another person observed.
Even WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange got on the CNN-bashing train:
A multi-billion dollar TV network blackmailing a private citizen into not making funny videos about it is not journalism, CNN. #CNNBlackmail
— Julian Assange (@JulianAssange) July 5, 2017
As of press time, #CNNBlackmail hovers within the top three trending topics across the social media platform in the United States.