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.

30 comments

  1. I pretty much agree with everything here, except for this:

    …condemn Trump for such graphic displays that could be seen as incitements to commit violence.

    This is the most ridiculous, asinine idea of this whole ridiculous story. Who on earth would consider this an incitement to violence? It’s a freaking reddit shitpost video, get some perspective! And it’s especially rich considering it’s the left whose communications machine drove someone to attempt mass murder of Republican congressmen. It’s not a good time for the left to be talking about incitements to violence.

  2. See, I don’t want to get deep in the weeds on this point. I’ll just say (before CMNZ shows up and does it first) that Trump does as much to aggravate the Left as he does complaining about how far they go to attack him. Honest people can disagree about whether or not what Griffin or Trump did counts as incitement.

    The point is that CNN treated Trump’s tweet as incitement and they were on very firm ground criticizing it after they had properly dealt with Kathy Griffin for doing something that shocked people. It was fair for them to make that observation and complain about it, even if you don’t think it was what they called it.

    Whatever it was, it didn’t justify hunting down the Reddit poster for the apparent purpose of getting satisfaction. They crossed the Moral Event Horizon and in so doing, Trump’s tweet doesn’t even matter anymore.

    People are now doxing and threatening CNN employees because of what CNN did to HanAssholeSolo, not what Trump tweeted. They managed to make a bad situation worse. That’s the point I’m out to make.

  3. CNN went total authoritarian there, and will do so again until the culture changes.
    I lost any trust i had ion them back in ’04 when it was reviled that the network had made a sweeheart deal with Saddam Hussien after Desert storm to remain as the only western news outlet in Iraq, by agreeing to be their mouthpiece and allowing them to review and approve any news stories broadcast from there.

  4. If you even for a moment think that a President would actually actively take down any major news outlet(s) over tweets and petty insults, whether you like them or not, just go ahead and bury a shipping container in the ground or make contingency plans to emigrate far away. So far, I have chosen to believe that Trump is winging it and is just feeding his obvious narcissism on an ad hoc basis. He’s taken shots at quite a few journalists and media outlets and they mostly just go away after a few days. Even now, the Morning Joe thing is out of the news cycle.

    Of course, if CNN brings it on themselves by alienating their viewership, then that is quite different. Kathy Griffin fucked up and this HanAssholeSolo thing was hamfisted. I haven’t watched CNN in over a decade and I doubt I would miss it. I predict that this blows over but CNN has damaged their journalistic integrity by intimidating someone into issuing the type of statement that third world nations make hostages perform for the camera. I just don’t underestimate the shortness of America’s attention span. Personally, I think HanAss missed an opportunity. It may not be too late to capitalize on this like the CashMeOusside idiot, but the next idiot is queued up for his 15 minutes.

  5. It is now the hallmark of publicly traded, awarded news publications with millions of readers to petulantly hunt down and dox civilians who make decently funny memes about them.

  6. CNN did it to themselves. By comparison, MSNBC is doing well in response. Joe, Mika, and Maddow might be morons but they’re getting ratings. CNN is a lesson in how obsession can destroy a brand.

  7. I am hearing now that CNN never actually contacted the kid. He panacked and piled his posts once the net dropped on him. But from what CNN has officially posted seems to indicate that they may have.

  8. As for The .gif … It was just poor taste for trump to post it.. But then again this is trump. Coming from a President this was just a typical tone dead move by him….. On the other hand I thought it was funny as fuck.

  9. Well, let me see if I can clarify from some of what I’ve found from my research.

    First, HanAssholeSolo isn’t a kid. He’s 48. The reason everyone thinks he’s a kid is because Trump’s son posted about it and referred to CNN doxing a “15 year old”. I think he was just using a figure of speech. However, everyone ran with it as fact.

    Second, what happened is that they emailed Han to let him know they were interested in following up. That’s when he freaked and deleted everything. So yes, CNN is telling the truth when they say that he apologized before they SPOKE to him, but they’re being dishonest when they say that they hadn’t CONTACTED him. Han apologized only after becoming aware that CNN was onto him.

    One interesting tidbit I found on 4chan is that CNN didn’t have to work especially hard to identify him. At some point in the past, Han had posted a link to one of his own Facebook posts on Reddit. That is how they know for sure that he’s not a kid.

  10. Ah, this is what I was looking for. This is how CNN identified him. In another post, he also references being a teenager when the Hubble Space Telescope was launched in 1990.

  11. Note that the “I’m not old I’m 37” line is a reference to Monty Python and the Holy Grail, probably not his actual age.

  12. I’m glad to see that. I’m trying hard to be fair and factual even though I’m angry about what CNN has done.

  13. I’ve got some mixed feelings on this one.

    When Obama and his cronies started going after Fox News, I thought it was wrong for a sitting President to attack a media outlet for the factual stories they were covering about Obama’s presidency. So as far as CNN is covering facts about Trump, I’m fine with it, and don’t think the sitting President should be attacking a media outlet.

    But CNN has repeatedly used anonymous sources for stories on this Presidency that turn out to be flat out false. So I’m trying to determine where that line is here. When has a media outlet warranted being attacked by someone in the Government? In this specific case, I’d say it’s warranted, though Trump did react like the narcissist he is.

    In regards to AssholeSolo, I think CNN went way too far, and somebody should be fired here. Whoever either wrote the article with the threat, and/or approved the article with the threat needs to go.

  14. When has a media outlet warranted being attacked by someone in the Government?

    THIS is an excellent topic and I’d like to see the rest of the gang join in.

    In theory, I’m against elected officials trying to destroy the credibility of the press. The reason I qualify that with “in theory” is because I also think that the press serves a valuable purpose when it is neutral and objective and of course it is not, for the most part. Maybe it never was.

    To conservatives, the media has long functioned as an arm of the Democratic Party. Trump has gained support from the Right because he challenges the media for it and attacks them as fervently as he would be expected to attack Democrats. I think Republicans who approve of this are simply accepting the reality that there isn’t even a Chinese wall between the Democratic Party and the press.

    Fox News is just the counter to the Democrat-dominated media and Obama treated them as such too.

    As I said, I’d love to get some more perspectives on this.

  15. Firstly, I can’t fault anything in your post. While I don’t think CNN is ‘fake news’ exactly, they’re certainly ‘shitty news’. For the life of me I can’t see what they were actually trying to achieve through doing this. There’s simply no upside… didn’t someone in a meeting suggest that it might not go well for them?

    The appropriate response from a news organisation would be to double down on great, well sourced (yes anonymous sources are fine) journalism that clearly explains to the public what’s going on, and keeps the conversation on the things that really affect the US population. We’re not talking about Healthcare or North Korea right now….

    I actively welcome robust debate between the press and the Government, it’s an adversarial relationship that’s important for the public.

  16. The liberal line on Fox News has always been that conservatives are not well served by using Fox as their only news source because it creates a bubble. I am usually pretty surprised by how little people know if they only have one news source, whatever that source. Obama poked fun at Fox for its one-sided coverage knowing that he wouldn’t really take any political flack for it. That was not where his voters were. I know of no instance where Obama implied that they should be shut out of the debate as Trump has done with various outlets but I do remember taking care to make sure that he never stepped over a line in his jabs. To the best of my knowledge he never tried to ban them from the press room or anything like that. He even appeared on Bill O’Reilly’s show.

    Unfortunately, Trump has decided to brand anyone on any network that disagrees with him fake news and his followers have adopted this pattern. I see it in Facebook every day. I have a relative that will call CNN or NBS “fake news” and post crap from actual fake news sites because she agrees with it. Anyone that thinks that this is just fine because most people that choose journalism as a career are “liberal” needs to really imagine what the US would be like with no press willing to take a critical look at what any president is doing. For all of what I consider Fox’s shortcomings they took a critical look at the Obama administration and the coverage was just as crazy as you think Trump coverage is now. I know from experience when my Mom and stepdad would stay here and watch Fox that criticism of Obama was non-stop, comparable to how conservatives are bitching about Trump coverage now. You haven’t even begun to get sick of it yet.

  17. I said above that I haven’t watched CNN in a long time. They have been slipping in quality. This is just the latest bout of nonsense.

  18. ah good to know a bit more of the Facts in this case. I have to say that if CNN contacted me over something simular, i would freak too….given the power and resources a Media giant like they have.. my ass would be grass.

  19. Trash talking them and actually conducting political operations against a media outlet are 2 vastly different things, in my eyes. I would have to do some digging, but if i remember correctly Trump is not the first president to go toe to toe and shit talk the newspapers, in the past..

  20. Exactly, Harley. So far everything seems to be trash talk, though the attempts to exclude news outlets from the press room bothered me. As long as it stays trash talk all’s good, although Trump should at least attempt to keep it light. I am sure that over they years presidents have poked at the press, but it wasn’t daily. I can’t imagine Lyndon Johnson or Richard Nixon talking about a woman’s bleeding facelift.

  21. Next thing you know, Trump will name some CNN reporter a co-conspirator, have their phone records subpoenaed, call them a flight risk so they are never informed they are under surveillance and snoop on their lives with reckless abandon. I can’t imagine any president would do such other than Trump. Amirite?

  22. Obama poked fun at Fox for its one-sided coverage knowing that he wouldn’t really take any political flack for it.

    Obama and his Administration went quite a bit further than that.

  23. Here’s yet more evidence that so many in the media are just unhinged when it comes to anything Trump says or does. Referring to what the rise of Western civilization brought to the world is now “racist”? I wonder if these idiots would have been “triggered” by the fall of the Berlin wall.

  24. They (the media) just keep trying, and keep failing.

    But in the end, the lawyer had nothing, gave nothing, got nothing in return, in a meeting that lasted 20 minutes. This is a scandal?

  25. They’re really grasping at straws now. I wonder if they’re not throwing out weak content like this to distract from the aspects of Russia’s interference that make the Obama administration look bad. Or maybe they want to undermine any good news for Trump from his visit to Europe. Or both.

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