The Hunt for Reddit User: CNN proves it can do investigative journalism

Robert Bridge
Robert Bridge is an American writer and journalist. He is author of the book on corporate power, “Midnight in the American Empire," released in 2013. robertvbridge@yahoo.com
The Hunt for Reddit User: CNN proves it can do investigative journalism
There are so many disturbing things about the #CNNBlackmail story that it almost hurts the brain to think about them. But one thing is clear. Watching the way CNN reacted to a Tweet involving a fake sport speaks volumes about its current status.

I’m not quite sure this is what Donald Trump had in mind when he promised to “drain the swamp,” but he may be on to something. All it took was the launch of one asinine tweet to reveal the unsightly underbelly of CNN and send it on a wild goose chase. 

For those who somehow missed the main event over the weekend, it occurred ringside at a wrestling match in the glory days of the faux sport, a carnivalesque event that serves as a nice metaphor for the fake reality Americans have been forced to inhabit ever since The Donald trounced Hillary in the elections last year.

The tweet features Trump clotheslining some guy ringside, smashing him to the ground before pummeling him with a flurry of fake blows (the footage was from a 2007 WrestleMania event). In this updated version, the guy Trump is 'assaulting' has a CNN logo for a head. 

CNN, which recently fell under the bus of fake news claims, found nothing humorous about the meme. In fact, so repulsed was the channel by Trump "inciting violence against journalists" that it was moved to do something it hasn't done in a long, long time: It resorted to good ol' fashioned investigative journalism. 

One day after Trump released the meme seen around the world, CNN proudly reported that it had, with much more ceremony than the moment warranted, "identified the man behind "HanA**holeSolo," the original creator of the Trump vs. CNN virtual fight.

Reportedly using identifying data that the user posted, CNN "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."

I guess we will all sleep better tonight, knowing this evil meme creator has been put in his rightful place. But I can't help wondering how less chaotic the world would be today had CNN used those pent-up journalistic juices for squashing all those conspiratorial anti-Russia rumors? But we're getting ahead of ourselves.   

Although ‘Hans’ was sufficiently alarmed by his sudden notoriety to prostrate himself before the gods of mass media, releasing a lengthy public apology, promising not to publish such un-funny anti-CNN memes in the future (it seems Han was also found to have posted on other occasions content of a racial and anti-Semitic nature), CNN stated that it “reserves the right to publish his identity should any of that change.” 

It was that line that caused CNN to enter the Internet house of pain, a virtual Coloseum where fools are not suffered lightly. It's not difficult to see why. Here we have a global media powerhouse, rattled to its very foundation by a puerile meme, swinging all eight of its eyeballed tentacles in the direction of a private citizen whose only crime was exerting his First Amendment right to free speech and expression.

Worse, the warning shot against 'Hans' came across as nothing short of arm-twisting blackmail,with some misguided kid with his face smashed up against a school locker.

By Tuesday, CNN was on the defensive, denying claims that it had coerced the Reddit user in any way.

"CNN decided not to publish the name of the Reddit user out of concern for his safety," a CNN spokesman told The Hill. "Any assertion that the network blackmailed or coerced him is false. The user, who is an adult male, not a 15-year-old boy, apologized and deleted his account before ever speaking with our reporter."

The damage, however, was already done as CNN learned first-hand how difficult it is to change public perception once an idea has been dumped in the public square. Where have we experienced that before?

Ironically, CNN-sponsored fake news, primarily aimed at Russia, which launched the anti-Trump crusade from the beginning, serves as a perfect example as to how difficult it is to 'retract' fake news once it has taken on a life of its own. Now it seems the fake news serpent has traveled full circle, taken on a virtual life of its own, and is now attacking its master.

Some would call that 'poetic justice.'

US political discourse hits rock bottom

I shudder to think what the Founding Fathers must be thinking about America's great experiment with democracy today, with the 'Home of the Brave' going mental over a tweet depicting an American president physically assaulting a CNN logo in a mock-up of a long-gone professional wrestling bout.

Of course, we'd have to patiently explain to those esteemed luminaries from a bygone era, the Franklins, Jeffersons and Madisons, about the glories of social media, corporate-controlled media entities, as well as that curious cornerstone of American culture known as 'World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE),' where grown men in crotch-clutching underwear pretend to beat each other up in front of electrified and oddly democratic crowds. 

We would also have to explain how CNN is being disingenuous for suggesting that Trump's tweet "encourages violence against reporters" since everybody knows 'professional wrestling' is about as real as a 'Three Stooges' episode, where Mo, Larry and Curly slap each other in the face and rap each other over the head with rubber hammers.

Similarly, 'professional wrestling' may provoke fits of violent laughter, and perhaps some domestic disturbances as family members attempt to wrestle the remote control away from Dad. Aside from that, however, wrestling ranks far behind Quentin Tarantino, video games and day-time television as a stimulant and precursor for violent behavior. 

Speaking of "inciting violence," it would be very hard to top former CNN host Kathy Griffin, who, in a diabolical nod to jihadi traditions, posted a very non-ironic photo of herself holding a blood-soaked severed head - albeit thankfully of the 'Made in China' rubber variety - of President Trump (please imagine the outcry that would have ensured had any 'comedian' pulled the same stunt using a fake Barack Obama head!).

The irony over the mainstream media's expressed contempt for Trump's "violent" tweet is brought out in stark relief when we consider exactly how CNN has helped to bring relations between the United States and Russia to the brink of destruction. Here is the source of real violence. On this point, we'd have to enlighten the Founding Fathers - who lived long before Albert Einstein - about atomic fusion and the existential threat of nuclear war, which could in a single moment of madness annihilate all life on the planet. Forever.

By disseminating a veritable flood of fake news about Russia, CNN can thank itself for helping to herald in an age of extreme uncertainty at a time when our tiny, finite planet is littered with the most lethal weapons of mass destruction ever known. The world can ill afford news 'reporting' that enthuses on behalf of war and hollow yet deadly consequential anti-Russia rhetoric, as opposed to making sure our political leaders act appropriately. 

Recently, three CNN journalists were sacked following a retracted story that was based on a single anonymous source who connected Anthony Scaramucci, a supporter of President Trump, to a Russian investment fund.  

This came shortly after two CNN employees fell for the oldest trick in the journalist trade, admitting on a hidden camera that the Russia narrative is “bull**it” and “a big nothing burger.”   

In other words, all the talk about Russia being responsible for Hillary Clinton's loss and "hacking US democracy" is pure, fat-free rubbish. The more likely scenario is that the Democratic Party, which was basically promised to win the presidency by a misguided Liberal media, are sore sports who cannot handle the fact that they lost to Trump. This is something the mainstream media by and large refuses to even partially consider.

This was most apparent in early January, just before Trump's inauguration ceremony, when CNN reported that senior Obama intelligence officials said they had briefed President-elect Trump on the existence of the so-called “Russian dossier” full of compromising claims about him.

The reality, however, was that it was a half-baked farce. 

As Mollie Hemingway of The Federalist observed, "the dossier revealed to everyone how unbelievably stupid and shoddy it was. It was a complete joke, more or less. It didn’t make Trump look bad, it made the intelligence chiefs who claimed to be taking it seriously look like a bunch of amateurs."

In fact, CNN missed a great opportunity to prove itself to be more interested in pursuing truth than aligning itself with a political agenda. Instead, it opted to manufacture for mass consumption fact-free reporting designed to make Donald Trump, and Russia, look bad. In the end, such a pathetic display of journalism only backfired on the news organization, which is now trying hard to save its brand amid "fake news" claims.

After Trump posted the controversial tweet, RT spoke with New York Observer columnist Andre Walker about CNN's reaction to the Trump tweet. 

“Why on earth they are interested in attacking a Twitter user, just because he got retweeted by Donald Trump?” he asked. “I think that CNN is extremely upset about the fact that they’ve been caught out for the amount of fake news and lies they’ve put out across the years,” Walker concluded.

It seems that in a very short period of time, the US mainstream media is learning the hard way that fake news does not pay. This is certainly something the US Founders would have understood better than anyone.

@Robert_Bridge

The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.