CNN dispatched the head of its “leading investigation team for the social, mobil generation”– Andrew Kaczynski of the so-called KFile unit — to blow the lid off the source of the GIF showing President Trump taking down CNN. President Trump tweeted it out on July 2 (below).
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 2, 2017
If you’ve been following the news, you know that Trump’s tweet represents a profound threat to freedom of the press. Everyone who is anyone agrees that it amounts to an incitement to violence against the press. Why, Trump’s tweet constituted the gravest threat to freedom of speech since Sean Spicer affronted CNN by talking back to Jim Acosta in June, or since Trump disparaged MSNBC host Mika B. last week, or since Melania Trump called out Mika B. for comments about the state of her marriage.
For CNN, however, this time it’s personal! Kaczynski tracked down the producer of the GIF. He blows the lid off the story in “How CNN found the Reddit user behind the Trump wrestling GIF.” Kaczynski reports:
Reddit user “HanA**holeSolo” first shared the GIF last Wednesday of Trump pummeling a wrestler with CNN’s logo imposed on his face. CNN could find no earlier instance of the GIF. The GIF was later edited into a video with sound and tweeted by the President on Sunday.
On Reddit, “HanA**holeSolo” took credit for inspiring the tweet. Soon after, “HanA**holeSolo’s” other posts on Reddit, some of which included racist and anti-Semitic imagery, quickly circulated on social media.
Now the user is apologizing, writing in a lengthy post on Reddit that he does not advocate violence against the press and expressing remorse there and in an interview with CNN for other posts he made that were racist and anti-Semitic.
The apology came after CNN’s KFile identified the man behind “HanA**holeSolo.” Using identifying information that “HanA**holeSolo” posted on Reddit, KFile was able to determine key biographical details, to find the man’s name using a Facebook search and ultimately corroborate details he had made available on Reddit.
On Monday, KFile attempted to contact the man by email and phone but he did not respond. On Tuesday, “HanA**holeSolo” posted his apology on the subreddit /The_Donald and deleted all of his other posts.
Mr. A**holeSolo regrets what he has done. He posted an apology:
“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,” he wrote. “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. I am not the person that the media portrays me to be in real life, I was trolling and posting things to get a reaction from the subs on reddit and never meant any of the hateful things I said in those posts. I would never support any kind of violence or actions against others simply for what they believe in, their religion, or the lifestyle they choose to have. Nor would I carry out any violence against anyone based upon that or support anyone who did.”
The user further apologized for calls for violence against the press [sic!] in his statement on Reddit.
“The meme was created purely as satire, it was not meant to be a call to violence against CNN or any other news affiliation,” he wrote. “I had no idea anyone would take it and put sound to it and then have it put up on the President’s Twitter feed. It was a prank, nothing more. What the President’s feed showed was not the original post that was posted here, but loaded up somewhere else and sound added to it then sent out on Twitter. I thought it was the original post that was made and that is why I took credit for it. I have the highest respect for the journalist community and they put their lives on the line every day with the jobs that they do in reporting the news.”
The apology has since been taken down by the moderators of /The_Donald subreddit.
After posting his apology, “HanA**holeSolo” called CNN’s KFile and confirmed his identity. In the interview, “HanA**holeSolo” sounded nervous about his identity being revealed and asked to not be named out of fear for his personal safety and for the public embarrassment it would bring to him and his family.
Mr. A**holeSolo thus declares that he has gotten his mind right. Kaczynski accordingly declines at this time to disclose his identity. Lest there be any backsliding, however, Kaczynski “reserves the right” to out him:
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.
CNN and Kaczynski owe Mr. A**holeSolo an apology on at least two counts. First, Kaczynski to the contrary notwithstanding, Mr. A**holeSolo didn’t make “calls for violence against the press.” Whatever Mr. A**holeSolo’s faults, his view of the GIF as satire is far more balanced than the unhinged response of CNN and its friends among the Democrats’ media adjunct.
Second, Kaczynski shouldn’t have threatened to out Mr. A**holeSolo if he backslides. To exercise his own rights in the future, Mr. A**holeSolo will now either have to seek preclearance review of comments intended for public consumption or subject himself to the arbitrary judgment of the likes of Andrew Kaczynski. Mr. A**holeSolo will wisely decline to exercise his rights. Mr. A**holeSolo may not know a lot, but he knows enough to keep his mouth shut (as the the hashtag #CNNBlackmail suggests).