CNN Denies "Deal" Was Made to Protect Identity Of GIF Creator

Posted: Jul 05, 2017 12:55 PM

Matt wrote earlier about how CNN essentially threatened to dox a Reddit user who created a video of President Trump beating up a person with a CNN logo superimposed over his face. In an article about the discovery of the video creator, CNN said that while they were not currently going to release the person's identity due to his sincere apology, they had every right to do so at a later date.

Naturally, people were pretty upset with this very thinly-veiled threat. CNN was accused of blackmailing someone into behaving, and rumors swirled on the internet that the Reddit user in question was actually a teenager.

In response, CNN issued a statement denying that there was ever a "deal" in place to protect the identity of the Redditor, and also clarified that the user is not a teenager, but rather is an adult.

CNN decided not to publish the name of the Reddit user out of concern for his safety. Any assertion that the network blackmailed or coerced him is false. The user, who is an adult male and not a 15-year-old boy, apologized and deleted his account before ever speaking with our reporter. CNN never made any deal, of any kind, with the user. In fact, CNN included its decision to withhold the user's identity in an effort to be completely transparent that there was no deal.

Regardless, the sentence of "CNN reserves the right to publish his identity should any of that change" is absolutely chilling, and this should be frightening. A gif or video is legal. CNN is apparently aware that revealing the identity of the user could compromise his safety, so it's unclear as to why they'd dangle that threat in the piece. It's not exactly a secret that unhinged opponents of Donald Trump have turned violent in the past, and releasing the identity of a private citizen that did literally nothing illegal (and had no idea that President Trump would tweet out something he made) could have turned very, very bad. It's not a good look for a news network to go after a private citizen.

Further, CNN's own anchors have gone on the air and said basically the opposite of this statement--that there was in fact a deal in place.

So who knows--all that seems clear is that CNN is digging themselves into a deeper and deeper hole.