While on vacation last week, I caught the news about Trump’s Twitter attack against The Morning Joe hosts and regretted that I wasn’t able to write about it at the time. My perspective on it was that the reason Trump was pivoting his fire onto MSNBC was because he had effectively crushed CNN and was simply moving on to the next target.
Yes, you read that right. CNN is broken and I don’t know how they’ll ever recover. We can certainly argue about whether it was all Trump’s doing or if it was self-inflicted on CNN’s part, but there’s no doubting CNN is in a very, very deep black hole.
I suggest the rapid slide began on the day that Trump directly told Jim Acosta that CNN is “fake news.” Since then, CNN has seemingly been bent on a sort of Captain Ahab Revenge Quest against the president. They had no regard for the damage they were doing to their own brand with their irresponsible reporting on TrumpRussia that ultimately led to the resignations of three of their employees and a (belated) recognition that their journalistic standards were in the crapper and needed greater oversight.
There was also the Kathy Griffin incident. I gave due credit to CNN for firing her quickly, but it says a lot about the media culture that absolutely nobody appears to have thought her stunt was a bad idea before she did it.
Then the Project Veritas videos began dropping. It was then that I felt that Trump had accomplished what he was trying to achieve. He had successfully framed CNN as “fake news” and they stupidly stepped in every pile of shit they could find on the trail to bring Trump down. All he did was set the stage and sell the tickets. CNN did the rest with their obsessiveness.
If someone were to make a miniseries about the destruction of CNN, this week would be the part at which Jeff Zucker would lean back in his desk chair, place his fingers on his temples, and say, “Well, it couldn’t get any worse.” Then there’d be a cutaway to the .gif of Trump smashing CNN in the WWE ring. Next, we’d see clips of CNN anchors having tantrums about it.
Look, I don’t condone Trump tweeting the offending .gif. You know my attitude on this kind of speech. You know I’m happy to acknowledge that CNN was right to fire Griffin and to condemn Trump for such graphic displays that could be seen as incitements to commit violence.
CNN could have held the moral high ground. They could have made the Griffin comparison. Even Republicans were criticizing Trump’s tweet, thinking it juvenile at best. There was no way CNN could have screwed up the messaging of this week’s news cycle and worsened their situation.
Yeah. Yeah, they could. And they did.
Andrew Kaczynski from CNN went out of his way to find the hapless nobody who had created the .gif. Once CNN rooted him out, they emailed him and, well, scared the crap out of him. I don’t know if they specifically tried to terrorize him, but I can certainly see how being contacted out of the blue by a news organization about your posting offensive shit on the Web would be frightening to someone who doesn’t want his life ruined.
The .gif creator, known only (thankfully) as HanAssholeSolo, apologized and promised to never do it again. That’s when Kaczynski published the most ill-considered and horrifying paragraph in the history of journalism:
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.
CNN reserves the right to publish his identity should any of that change.
Do we need to parse that at all? Anyone want to defend CNN here?
I’ll make a few observations. First, there was no reason to track this Asshole guy down. None. He had nothing to do with the story, really. In fact, it’s even possible that CNN got the wrong guy. I can’t read that paragraph and see anything other than that CNN wanted contrition out of the guy, not a story. Again, the story shouldn’t have been about anything except Trump being a prick for posting the inflammatory .gif.
As for that last line, how can anyone see any other message other than, “If he posts anything like that again, naturally, we will reveal his name and ruin his life”? This guy is probably going to stay off the Internet for the rest of his life for fear that CNN will come after him again and set the SJW mob loose on his employer and family.
Is the issue that CNN doesn’t think HanAssholeSolo deserves anonymity? Let me ask the obvious question: why do the neverending anonymous sources that CNN relies on for its nonstop attacks against Trump deserve anonymity? Even if you’re sympathetic to CNN, can’t you see the outrageous hypocrisy?
Fuck CNN. Prior to this, I laughed at them. I thought Trump’s little war with them was entertaining, truth be told. Now? I want to see it gone. Devastated. The message has to be sent to the media that it cannot target us smallfolk and get away with it.
I don’t much care what they do to Trump, but those of us who like pursuing our harmless creative pastimes anonymously on the Internet are not to be targeted. I have an optimistic feeling that /pol/, reddit, and many others who have skin in the game are going to fight this good fight and win it. It’s going to be ugly and beautiful at the same time, and it’s going to be decisive.
This isn’t going away anytime soon and its impact is going to leave a deep scar with regard to public opinion. Leaving aside the inevitable threats against sponsors and the possibility of criminal charges for extortion, CNN’s name is going to be haunted by this for the remainder of its existence.
So yes, Mr President. You have my blessing to lay Rock Bottom on those candyasses. One way or another, “rock bottom” is obviously what CNN is determined to find.