A United Statements Congressman for Virginia and former Navy SEAL, Scott Taylor, took to Twitter to argue that CNN has coerced a private citizen into apologizing to the network for creating a meme featuring U.S. President Donald Trump attacking WWE chairman Vince McMahon with a CNN logo plastered over McMahon’s face. According to Taylor, he believes that with CNN’s latest actions, a “line was crossed”.
— Scott Taylor (@Scotttaylorva) July 5, 2017
Taylors tweet was quickly picked up by many Conservative news outlets, and alternative media such as Gateway Pundit.
The article cited CNN’s actual statements in their news piece, which admonished the user for posting the meme featuring Trump and the CNN logo on McMahon’s face. CNN also used the piece to inform readers that they tracked down the original creator of the meme, called his home phone, and eventually managed to pressure an apology out of him. CNN stated in the piece, which was published July 4th, 2017…
“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.”
The last bit about CNN reserving the right to publish the young man’s personal identifiable information has many claiming that it’s blackmail.
The original author of the piece, Andrew Kaczynski, claims he received word from user, HanA**holeSolo, who stated that he was in total agreement with CNN and that he was not threatened in any way.
FYI “HanAssholeSolo” just called me.”I am in total agreement with your statement. I was not threatened in anyway.” https://t.co/7se1B8Z29D
— andrew kaczynski 🤔 (@KFILE) July 5, 2017
Now that the story has gone viral, a lot of people are wondering if the meme that caused such an issue was really worth a private citizen being threatened with a dox by CNN?
This has caused some users on social media to revolt and start sharing the original meme as a way to create civil disturbance and raise the issue of a news organization using their resources to threaten citizens.
— Cerah Chong 💎 (@SomeBlasianGirl) July 5, 2017
According to Wikileaks founder, Julian Assange, this isn’t just a matter of privacy but a matter of legality. He points to the New York criminal code under section 135.60 in a tweet.
— Julian Assange (@JulianAssange) July 5, 2017
If you’re unable to read the tweet, the passage is available over on the penal law page for the state of New York, which explains…
“A person is guilty of coercion in the second degree when he or she compels or induces a person to engage in conduct which the latter has a legal right to abstain from engaging in, or to abstain from engaging in conduct in which he or she has a legal right to engage, or compels or induces a person to join a group, organization or criminal enterprise which such latter person has a right to abstain from joining, by means of instilling in him or her a fear that, if the demand is not complied with, the actor or another will: […] Perform any other act which would not in itself materially benefit the actor but which is calculated to harm another person materially with respect to his or her health, safety, business, calling, career, financial condition, reputation or personal relationships.”
This act of coercion, or blackmail, is considered a class A misdemeanor.
This has resulted in the hashtag #CNNBlackmail to trend on Twitter, and even managed to get some individuals from the #GamerGate crowd (such as a source for One Angry Gamer) to chime in, along with a flurry of memes.
— Lunar Archivist (@LunarArchivist) July 5, 2017
— Michelle Catlin 🐍 (@CatlinNya) July 5, 2017
— Jack Posobiec 🇺🇸 (@JackPosobiec) July 5, 2017
CNN has so far claimed that threatening to dox the original creator of the meme was not blackmail, and that the individual apologized publicly and to CNN privately well before the idea for the article was constructed.
“HanAssholeSolo” posted his apology before we *ever* spoke him. He called us afterwards to apologize further. https://t.co/X47X3u8CUy
— andrew kaczynski 🤔 (@KFILE) July 5, 2017
However, in one final twist, the Twitter account for /Pol/ news noted that CNN originally stated that the apology only came after CNN threatened Han. They even showed off the tweets from CNN to prove it.
CNN desperately trying to memory-hole you to think they doxed a Reddit user *after* his apology.
But that’s not what they said originally. pic.twitter.com/VGGwG1HYPR
— /pol/ News Forever (@polNewsForever) July 5, 2017