Wednesday, July 5, 2017

CNN Threatens Redditor

A controversy erupted late Tuesday night after CNN published an article announcing that it had uncovered the identity of the anonymous Reddit user who created the video of President Donald Trump punching a CNN logo. CNN and other outlets had previously reported that this user, who uses a pseudonym, had also posted anti-Semitic and racist content on Reddit, including an image identifying all of the Jewish employees of CNN, designated with a Jewish star next to their photos.

Though CNN decided — for now — not to reveal his name, the network made clear that this discretion was predicated on the user’s lengthy public apology, his promise not to repeat the behavior, and his status as a private citizen. But in its article, the network explicitly threatened that it could change its mind about withholding the user’s real name if his behavior changes in the future.


Several of the objections made to CNN’s conduct here appear to be false. That includes the claim by the president’s son, Donald Trump, Jr., that the user threatened by CNN is 15 years old (the CNN reporter, Andrew Kaczynski, said the Reddit user is an adult).

  Glenn Greenwald
Donald Trump Jr. is exactly that: Donald Trump Jr. Here he asks sarcastically what leftists are celebrating on the 4th of July. He gets some great answers. "American Independence" being one.
There is something self-evidently creepy, bullying, and heavy-handed about a large news organization publicly announcing that it will expose someone’s identity if he ever again publishes content on the internet that the network deems inappropriate or objectionable.
What about illegal? Shouldn't it be?
There is also something untoward about the fact that CNN — the subject of the original video — was the news outlet that uncovered his identity. That fact creates the appearance of vengeance: If you, even as a random and anonymous internet user, post content critical of CNN, then it will use its vast corporate resources to investigate you, uncover your identity, and threaten to expose you if you ever do so again.


In response to the controversy last night, Kaczynski argued that “this line is being misinterpreted. It was intended only to mean we made no agreement [with] the man about his identity.” That may have been CNN’s intent, but that is not what the sentence says.
Sounds like a page out of the Trump playbook.
There is also a real question about whether a news organization — when deciding what information is newsworthy — should take into account factors such as whether someone is remorseful for what they said and whether they promise not to express similar views in the future. Those considerations seem to be the province of those vested with the power to punish bad behavior — a parent, a police officer, or a judge — rather than a news outlet.


Are you comfortable with having corporate media executives decide which views merit public exposure?
Don't they do that all the time?
[I]t resembles corporate bullying and creepy censorship more than actual journalism.
I'll be watching for tRump to tweet about how bad CNN is for threatening the guy who created that great video of Himself taking down CNN.

 ...but hey, do what you will anyway.

UPDATE:  7/5 3:30pm

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