(CNN) The Reddit user who initially claimed credit for President Donald Trump’s tweet that showed Trump tackling CNN issued an apology Tuesday for the video and other offensive content he posted — one day after CNN identified the man behind the account and attempted to make contact with him.
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.
Lot to unpack here, lot of questions raised about online anonymity and the First Amendment and the role of the media and ethics of doxing. But before diving into that, on the surface level…just based on the headline…
This is hilarious.
It’s 2017 and the major headlines everyone is dealing with contain the word “HanAssSolo” and feature a low quality GIF of the President of the United States bodyslamming a WWE wrestler with “CNN” photoshopped over his face. Just take a minute to revel in the absurdity of that fact.
Now as for the actual substance here, it’s tricky, especially for those of us who work on the internet and deal with trolls on a daily basis. Because it’s impossible to feel any pity for a troll who thinks they can hide behind a dog avatar and anonymously say whatever they want to whomever they want with no repercussions. And I’m not talking about ball busting and talking some shit, I’m talking about people like this guy, who create an account to harass people and tweet and post racist and anti-Semitic shit, then the instant they get caught they crumble and start crying.
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.
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.
“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,” he wrote. “Put yourself in their shoes before you post it. If you have a problem with trolling it is an addiction just like any other addiction someone can have to something and don’t be embarrassed to ask for help. Trolling is nothing more than bullying a wide audience. Don’t feed your own self-worth based upon inflicting suffering upon others online just because you are behind a keyboard.”
He even busted out the most perfect textbook excuse of all time:
When asked specifically about his other posts that consisted of racist, Islamophobic, and anti-Semitic language and imagery, he answered, “I love people of all races, creeds and origins. One of my best friends is a homosexual and one of my best friends is Jewish and one of my best friends is Muslim.”
Oh your best friend is black? Well I have THREE best friends, one is gay, one is Muslim, and one is even a Jew!
On the other hand…a personal hatred for trolls by no means makes CNN’s role any less unseemly here. CNN didn’t set out to “expose” hateful memes on the internet, setting up an online sting to reveal racists and anti-Semites and make the world wide web a better place. Their intentions weren’t journalistic integrity. They were looking to dox the guy who embarrassed them for the sole reason of payback. They wanted to punish and humiliate the guy who humiliated them. Revenge plain and simple.
Just check out this statement from their own article-
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.
“He said he was sorry and promised he wouldn’t do it again, so if he’s a good boy, he’ll get a treat before dinner, and we won’t post his name and address and telephone number on the internet with a direct CC to Antifa.” How weird is that? One of the world’s leaders of media and journalism spending their time tracking down a kid who made a joke GIF about them.
Again, that’s why they put resources into it. Because of the GIF. The fact the guy had offensive memes credited to his name was just an extra bonus for them. It was just as likely when they first started digging that it was his first Reddit post ever. Just seems like such a petty waste of time and resources.
No surprise, it’s stirred up the Right, and #CNNBlackmail is one of the top trending hashtags on Twitter today.
Not sure I’d call the anti-Semitic internet troll a “martyr” – in fact I am very sure, I would not. But a horrible look for CNN, especially as they try to assert the moral high ground over a president who blasts them as “Fake News” every day.
To quote the classic American film Point Break, this time we both lose, Johnny.