If you’re a social media lover, then you may have already seen the latest trending hashtag, #CNNBlackmail. This comes after Reddit user “HanA**holeSolo” created a meme in which a video of Donald Trump tackling WWE Chairman Vince McMahon to the ground and pummelling him at WrestleMania features the CNN logo pasted over McMahon’s face, making it look like Trump was taking down CNN.
As you can see, it’s currently trending on Twitter:
Though the following video was slightly edited and the original Reddit post is now deleted, this is essentially what he had posted:
President Donald Trump tweeted the video last weekend, causing the entire thing to go viral.
It’s easy to read between the lines and see the humour within this clip. Trump has repeatedly called out mainstream media outlets for being the real pushers of “fake news” (which you can read more about in our CE article here).
Below is a video in which Trump actually calls out a CNN reporter, specifically referring to the organization as fake news:
In response to the meme, CNN decided to investigate the real identity behind HanA**holeSolo’s online persona, which they found. They then interviewed the Redditor and published a lengthy article featuring a long-winded apology from him. Keep in mind that this apology came after CNN found the Redditor and contacted him; however, many are claiming that CNN allegedly threatened to expose the meme maker’s identity if he didn’t issue a public apology.
These allegations came to light largely because of a statement in the CNN article:
The article clearly suggests that CNN will publish the Redditor’s real identity if he retracts his apology. This is precisely where the #CNNBlackmail hashtag comes into play. People all over the internet are standing up for the Redditor, claiming that CNN is violating human rights by threatening to reveal the Redditor’s identity if he takes back his apology.
Blackmail allegations aren’t something to take lightly. Human beings are entitled to freedom of speech, and part of the beauty of life lies in our ability to express ourselves freely. The fact that a news organization is threatening to take that away from a human being is considered unacceptable to many, which is precisely why so many people are standing up for him.
It’s not just people who are skeptical of mainstream media or dislike CNN who are reacting, either. This has outraged many individuals from all political camps who feel badly that someone who created a joke is now being publicly scrutinized and allegedly blackmailed as a result.
CNN said in a statement that the meme could’ve inspired violence against CNN reporters and employees.
The Committee to Protect Journalists claimed that the tweet “undermines the work of the media in the U.S. and makes it more dangerous.” I would argue that CNN and other “news” organizations undermine the work and the credibility of mainstream media themselves, as they often manipulate information and create fake news.
Many news organizations are reporting on this story now, one of which is Wikileaks.
Wikileaks Founder Julian Assange tweeted:
One of the greatest parts about the internet, technology, and Reddit in particular is the expectation of anonymity. You can bond with like-minded people without their knowing every detail about you or what you look like. However, it’s unsurprising that CNN was able to find this Redditor’s identity, as the internet does not guarantee anonymity. What you post could remain with you forever, which many people forget.
This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t speak your truth; it’s just an important aspect of the internet to remember, and it’s certainly something this Redditor is now thinking about. The Redditor said “it was a prank, nothing more” and the meme “was created purely as satire, it was not meant to be a call to violence against CNN or any other news affiliation.”
Of course, CNN threatening to expose this Redditor’s identity is still wrong, but it’s simply a reminder that perhaps we shouldn’t post things on the internet if we’re not willing to accept responsibility for them.