CNN Accused Of "Blackmail" Over Wrestling GIF
The hashtag speaks for itself: #CNNblackmail.
That's the subject that became a top trend on Wednesday, as Trump supporters accused CNN of blackmailing the person who created a GIF showing President Donald Trump clotheslining the network's icon.
Then came the tweets.
One of the president's sons, Donald Trump Jr., was also involved in the online discussion.
This is why people are accusing CNN of blackmail.
The idea that CNN "blackmailed" the Reddit user who created the GIF is rooted in a number of factors.
K-File's report said it'd attempted to contact the "Redditor" by email and phone, but he did not respond. However, the man later posted a profuse apology on Reddit and deleted posts of his from the past.
Per CNN, the apology reads,
First of all, 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.
Second, the article states that CNN was not revealing the identity of the man because of his apology and vow to not post certain types of material again. The article then reads,
CNN reserves the right to publish his identity should any of that change.
That single line was received as a hint at the possibility that CNN could reveal the identity of the Reddit user, and that the network used it's potential to broadcast a person's private information as leverage in order to prompt an apology.
Now questions about ethics loom.
Many of the memes and tweets under the #CNNblackmail trend amount to jokes and victory laps by notable users who are known to be supportive of Trump and hostile to mainstream media outlets.
Meanwhile, K-File editor Andrew Kaczynski has refuted the idea that the Reddit user behind the infamous GIF is a teenager.
Kaczynski also defended the K-File article, saying that CNN was not hinting at a future revelation of anyone's identity and that the network was only clarifying that it had made no formal agreement with the Reddit user.
Still, neutral parties have questioned whether CNN's behavior was unethical.
The bottom line is clear: CNN worded its article in a way that made it seem that it personally pressured a private citizen into a public apology. Some have exploited that wording and run with it, accusing the network of blackmail.
Others have asked a more credible question of whether or not it's appropriate for a media company to decide what types of behavior warrants exposing a private citizen's information.