Seth Connell reports that CNN has had plenty of huge blunders in recent days with fake news stories and undercover videos exposing what they really think about their own nonsense, but this latest development may top them all.
Late on July 4, CNN tweeted that they had found the Reddit user who made the Trump-wrestling-CNN GIF that the President shared on his own infamous Twitter account.
EXCLUSIVE: CNN tracked down the Reddit user behind the Trump wrestling GIF. Now he’s apologizing. https://t.co/elrluxS5dm
— CNN Politics (@CNNPolitics) July 5, 2017
Apparently, CNN’s Andrew Kaczynski tracked down the Reddit user and forced him to apologize for making the GIF; he also took down his Reddit account as well.
In the story about the discovery, CNN issued the following statement; this is where it gets really interesting and possibly criminal:
CNN is not publishing “HanA**holeSolo’s” name because he is a private citizen who has issued an extensive statement of apology, showed 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.
Donald Trump Jr. claimed that the creator of the GIF was only 15 years old, and that Kaczyniski was bullying a minor. Kaczyinski vehemently denies that, and even claims that the Reddit user is a middle-aged man (how did he find that out?).
Again. HanAssholeSolo is not 15 or anywhere close to it. This is POTUS' son spreading misinformation. pic.twitter.com/AB98NLn7nc
— andrew kaczynski 🤔 (@KFILE) July 5, 2017
He even claimed that he has talked to the man and that things are all well and good.
FYI "HanAssholeSolo" just called me."I am in total agreement with your statement. I was not threatened in anyway." https://t.co/7se1B8Z29D
— andrew kaczynski 🤔 (@KFILE) July 5, 2017
Some did not really believe him, nonetheless.
— Nik Lentz (@NikLentz) July 5, 2017
Now, drama and memes aside, here is the $64,000 question…
Did CNN, and Andrew Kaczynski in particular, commit a felony offense of blackmail and conspiracy against rights?
Quite frankly, it appears so.
I looked into extortion law and found out that there are statutes at the state and federal level dealing with blackmail and extortion. The foundational meaning of extortion, as described by US Legal, is as follows:
Any person who receives or demands money or any thing of value from someone as part of a threat against disclosing information, or as a consideration for not disclosing information, in violation of the law, shall be liable for extortion. The essential elements of the federal crime of extortion are defendant’s use of actual or threatened force; violence, or fear; and the victim’s consent, however forced, to the transfer of property.
Specifically, it appears that this conduct is blackmail, which falls under the category of extortion. Blackmail has a slightly more narrow definition.
Blackmail is another form of extortion whereby criminals obtains money from victims by threatening to expose private or embarrassing conduct.
Now, CNN does not appear to be looking for money. But the various statutes dealing with blackmail and extortion do not only address money or property; they also often deal with issues of character.
With this in mind, it appears that one of the violations here is of New York State’s coercion law, PEN § 135.60:
A person is guilty of coercion in the second degree when he or she compels or induces a person to engage in conduct which the latter has a legal right to abstain from engaging in, or to abstain from engaging in conduct in which he or she has a legal right to engage, or compels or induces a person to join a group, organization or criminal enterprise which such latter person has a right to abstain from joining, by means of instilling in him or her a fear that, if the demand is not complied with, the actor or another will:
Subsection 5 is specifically what we’re looking at in this situation:
5. Expose a secret or publicize an asserted fact, whether true or false, tending to subject some person to hatred, contempt or ridicule;
The secret here would be the man’s identity. By exposing who he is, given that he has also exposed all the content made on his Reddit account, this man could be extremely humiliated and embarrassed for it. But all he has to do is keep his mouth shut, as per CNN’s thuggish guidelines.
Not only is there the state statute to consider, but there is also federal statute addressing a different sort of threat, a “conspiracy against rights” as laid out in TITLE 18, U.S.C., SECTION 241
If two or more persons conspire to injure, oppress, threaten, or intimidate any person in any State, Territory, Commonwealth, Possession, or District in the free exercise or enjoyment of any right or privilege secured to him by the Constitution or laws of the United States, or because of his having so exercised the same;…
They shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than ten years, or both; and if death results from the acts committed in violation of this section or if such acts include kidnapping or an attempt to kidnap, aggravated sexual abuse or an attempt to commit aggravated sexual abuse, or an attempt to kill, they shall be fined under this title or imprisoned for any term of years or for life, or both, or may be sentenced to death.
This is serious stuff here…
There have been many times where the government has gone after the press for publishing information that they did not want disclosed (Pentagon Papers, Snowden’s revelations, and in most totalitarian regimes). But a press outlet going after a private citizen? That’s a new one.