CNN’s recent apology and firing of three senior journalists over a suspect “Russian collusion” story pales in comparison to ferreting out and intimidating the Trump wrestling meme maker. It’s no secret the general public doesn’t trust the left-leaning “mainstream” media, and CNN has been the primary target of presidential “fake news” jabs.
Things are so bad at CNN that the cable network’s top-rated news show, “Anderson Cooper 360,” ranked 20th for this year’s second quarter. Fox News’ Tucker Carlson hosted the top-rated show, with MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow finishing second.
Overall, Fox News took 14 of the top 20 spots, and CNN’s Cooper show trailed the Tucker Carlson repeat. Yes, the “fake news” station’s best audience fell behind a rerun.
But the latest debacle has spurred a social media backlash from both sides of the political spectrum. Going after a private citizen in this fashion has raised concerns that CNN may have crossed a line into legally questionable. The outcry was heard from conservative and liberals alike, including U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz and WikiLeaks Founder Julian Assange.
The Hunt for The Meme Creator
The WWE Gif with a CNN logo slapped across Vince McMahon’s mug originated on Reddit. The creator was reportedly unknown to President Trump, who tweeted it out more than 50 million Twitter followers in jest. The memester’s handle was /u/HanA***holeSolo on Reddit, and he posted surprise and glee at being retweeted by the president. But CNN took great exception to the viral meme and called it advocating violence against reporters.
It quickly became the top retweet, and its over-the-top nature drew widespread laughter. The CNN brass, however, allocated resources and KFile staffers to hunt the meme-maker down.
Tracking down a salacious story seemed to make sense for CNN, given its low ratings. However, the “fake news” outlet took things a step further – and appears to threaten to “dox” or “out” him if he makes any further satirical posts.
Did CNN Commit a Criminal Act?
Texas Senator Cruz was immediately outspoken about the apparent threat to the anonymous Reddit user.
“Troubling,” he said. “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….”
In essence, laws such as this are designed to protect individuals from electronic bullying, coercion and extortion. The major problem for CNN may not be the fact that tracking the guy down was childish, but asserting that they reserved the right to publish his name publicly if he made any posts certainly raises a red flag:
“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. 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.”
Aside this outrageous position the network appears to take as the policeman of social media moral standards, many view the last line as a direct and potentially criminal threat.
In perhaps one of the rarest right-left areas of common ground, WikiLeaks Assange pointed to New York statute § 135.60 regarding criminal coercion. Assange eloquently jabs President Trump and the network:
“When Trump goes low CNN goes lower: Threatens to dox artist behind ‘CNN head’ video if he makes fun of them again,” he tweeted.
Assange goes on to draw a connection between CNN’s actions and federal law, tweeting: “CNN also appears to have committed a federal felony violation of 18 U.S. Code § 241 in relation to the 1st Amendment.”
The federal law carries a prison sentence of up to 10 years if convicted, and social media posts have been infused with the tag #CNNBlackmail.
CNN has since denied allegations that it used coercion, blackmail or bullying tactics to stifle the individual’s First Amendment right to free expression. However, many agree the network at acted unethically if not criminally. But perhaps the most frightening aspect of this incident is that CNN spends its time hunting down meme creators while effectively ignoring pertinent coverage of issues such as the economy, trade, and job creation among others.
~ Liberty Planet