CNN was determined to get to the bottom of a GIF, depicting President Donald Trump bodyslamming a wrestler with the CNN logo superimposed over his face, which the President himself Tweeted over the weekend, and now the Internet is claiming the mainstream media network “blackmailed” a meme-maker.
Late Tuesday night, CNN‘s KFile breathlessly revealed that the dastardly meme-maker was a Redditor who goes by the moniker, HanAssholeSolo, a professional Internet “sh*tposter” who’s social media history features a swath of offensive memes.
But the story took a bizarre turn when it appeared CNN was claiming to have struck a deal with Solo, to keep his identity secret, in return for a promise to stop trolling.
Immediately, the Internet took issue with the last line, claiming that it was evidence that CNN had blackmailed HanAssholeSolo into complying with their demand that he leave the Internet forever. If CNN and its reporters found him elsewhere, they’d drop their end of the bargain, thus exposing HanAssholeSolo to the wrath of Internet threat-makers (really, other trolls).
There is, of course, no right to anonymously sh*tpost on the Internet, free of ever being doxed and having your identity revealed. But it’s a different matter altogether, if a mainstream media outlet is holding your identity hostage to your compliance.
CNN issued a statement Wednesday morning in an attempt to clarify their position—claiming the line was merely “misunderstood,” and that no one was being blackmailed.
That is, of course, not exactly what the piece said, and at least one Twitter producer, Donie O’Sullivan, explained it on his Twitter timeline, that the intent was to punish “keyboard warriors” and threaten them into submission.
HanAssholeSolo is no saint, but it certainly appears CNN wasn’t merely exposing the dirty underbelly of Internet meme creation in the service of the public good.
Regardless of CNN‘s motive, the Internet was incensed and users, including even left-leaning site Vox.com, took to Twitter to excoriate CNN for interfering with the “right to meme.”
Meaning, of course, that the left was now involved in an unholy alliance with not just CNN‘s conservative critics, but also 4Chan, Wikileaks and Donald Trump, Jr..
Unfortunately for CNN, memes are like a hydra: when you cut off one head, many more grow in its place. And the Internet has now dedicated itself to ensuring that the network utterly fails in its mission to eradicate underground Internet culture.
Worse still, it appears CNN confirmed the President’s own theory that the network was looking to destroy the “opposition.” The war may now be out of control.