CNN found themselves embroiled in controversy yet again this week, after an article on the cable network’s website appeared to blackmail the reddit user who posted the now infamous gif of Trump body slamming a wrestler whose image was edited to represent the news network.
— Christopher Ingraham (@_cingraham) July 5, 2017
The story was intended to be a triumphant scoop, uncovered by CNN’s investigative unit, K-File. Instead, Twitter erupted with controversy over the story’s language, which seemed to suggest that the anonymity of the Reddit user was dependent upon his continuous repentance for the gif.
It’s a serious allegation for the network, and across the media landscape, reporters were eager to get their take in.
Here’s what we’re reading:
“How quickly the Internet tides turn” begins Variety, pointing out that just a few days ago, journalists from all sides were standing in solidarity with CNN over the very same GIF. The hidden gem of the piece, however, comes in the conclusion, where they note that Trump may not have even taken the GIF from Reddit in the first place.
Where Variety leaves off, Buzzfeed takes over with their in-depth breakdown of the two videos, pointing out the key differences between HanAssholeSolo’s GIF, and the one posted on the president’s Twitter.
The San Diego Union Tribune provides coverage of the Twittersphere’s response to CNN’s story (including Ted Cruz’s suggestion that CNN’s actions may potentially be illegal).
Meanwhile, Vox’s German Lopez added a more personal spin on the story, pointing out what he perceives to be as a double standard between CNN and Fox News. Lopez argues that the same move by a journalist at Fox News would have a much different reaction.
Poynter broke down the story in a Q&A with their in-house ethicist Indira Lakshmanan, who defended the actions of CNN, but stopped short at defending their language. A highlight:
What I find troubling is that the story focused on his pledge that “he is not going to repeat this ugly behavior on social media again,” culminating with the highly unusual statement that “CNN reserves the right to publish his identity should any of that change… I see no need to include an additional sentence saying that the network reserves the right to rescind that decision if he returns to his old behavior. That seems implicit, in that any day is a new day with new circumstances that could yield a new story.”
CNN has yet to make any updates to the story or changes to the story’s language. On Twitter, the K-File’s Andrew Kaczynski continued to defend the piece.