The thought police are monitoring your every move, utterance, and passing idea that might flash through your mind in order to ensure we are all adhering to the Correct Way of Thinking. The whole concept of thought police comes from sci-fi movies and usually takes the form of a tyrannical government. As this frightening idea is coming closer to reality, it’s in the form of social media shaming and a major news network instead.
Leading the CNN homepage on the evening of July 4: “After being contacted by CNN, Reddit user whose video Trump tweeted apologizes.” What? Well, on July 2 President Trump posted to Twitter a GIF animation showing him wrestling down a man on whose head was superimposed CNN’s logo.
CNN took it upon themselves to not question the world’s most powerful man about this, but to dig into the private life of the private citizen who had created the GIF. Here’s an excerpt from the CNN article showing what happened next. Don’t neglect to scroll to the bottom, where it says “CNN reserves the right to publish his identity should any of that [apology and retraction] change.”
What a public service CNN has done, identifying the dangerous man behind a silly GIF posted to Reddit! Days of investigation in the making, CNN ascertained the name of a guy who likely lives in his mother’s basement while posting to a sub-Reddit devoted to Trump. Within the story, published on CNN’s website, is what amounts to blackmail of a private citizen who dared to make a silly video that caught the president’s attention on a weekend morning:
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.
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.
Think or say anything negative about CNN and play into President Trump’s war against them, even in your capacity as a private citizen, and you may have the resources of an international news organization devote themselves to destroying your life. CNN has set a bullseye on not only President Trump, but his fans as well.
This Redditor’s Other Online Posts Are Irrelevant
To justify their campaign against him, the CNN story mentions this Reddit user had a history of posting racist and anti-Semitic content on Reddit. To be clear: CNN had no interest in any of the vile hatred bubbling out of Reddit until the moment the president stumbled upon other unrelated content this user had created. There was nothing anti-Semitic or racist about the video Trump found and tweeted; the fact that the user produced other objectionable content is irrelevant. We never would have heard of this anonymous troll were it not for Trump’s tweet with a video of a WWE wrestling match between himself and the CNN logo.
2) If they do matter, why would an apology to CNN suffice and make his identity no longer newsworthy? (/4)
— Ben Shapiro (@benshapiro) July 5, 2017
If CNN truly did find his previously created content and identity relevant, why would an apology and a promise to never post again render his name unimportant? His identity is either newsworthy or it isn’t. It’s clear CNN’s primary concern here wasn’t the newsworthiness of a story, but publishing a threat against a random Reddit user and any others who may want to join in bashing CNN online. CNN’s story published several portions of apology notes from the man, most of which sound like hostage videos.
In one the Reddit user wrote, “To people who troll on the Internet for fun, consider your words and actions conveyed in your message and who it might upset or anger.” Translated: To people who troll on the Internet for fun, don’t piss off CNN, or they might come knocking one day.
By potentially exposing his identity, CNN knows they are threatening to set off a nuclear bomb in the middle of this man’s entire life. And he knows it, which may explain the level of desperation in his apologies. What would an Internet mob feeding frenzy look like on this scale? Justine Sacco’s life destroyed for one joking tweet would look tame in comparison.
It’s Not Just CNN Trying to Incite Mob Attacks, Either
This is not just an isolated case of people with broad media power attempting to use it to punish people with less. Also the Fourth of July, CNN posted what perhaps they thought was an empowering story: A plus-sized model, Natalie Hage, confronting a “fat-shamer” on a flight, berating him for thinking badly of her because of her weight.
How exactly did this man shame Hage? He sent private text messages to a friend. That’s it. There was no communication between Hage and her seatmate, nor between the seatmate and anyone else on the flight, nor did the seatmate post anything about Hage publicly. The same cannot be said for Hage, who appears to have achieved success with the intended goal of posting the confrontation: her 15 minutes.
Hage took photos of her seatmate’s private text message conversation before takeoff, then filmed her confrontation with him upon landing in order to share the video with her 100,000 social media followers. She berated him, “Don’t ever treat someone like that again.”
To be clear: the man didn’t treat Hage in any way. He sat next to her, she leaned over and invaded his privacy, and photographed his private communication to share it with the world to amp up her profile and punish him for private actions. In this bizarre universe CNN and “Good Morning America” (who first ran the story) have made Hage, a woman who invaded the privacy of a stranger, into the victim.
This Fourth of July we celebrated the liberty we enjoy by living in the United States. CNN, perhaps inadvertently, reminded Americans that those freedoms can be threatened not only by tyrannical governments, but also international news networks with axes to grind. No longer are we allowed to create videos or write messages to friends if they don’t align with CNN’s standards of correct speech.
Whether against the anonymous creators of silly GIFs or the senders of politically incorrect text messages, the network spent the day on which the rest of us celebrate the freedoms of our country weaponizing its journalism against private citizens who dared say the wrong things and had the misfortune of getting caught.