Media

CNN Channels Its Inner JDL Thug

July 11, 2017

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CNN Channels Its Inner JDL Thug

I was not angry since I came to France/Until this instant.” So cries Henry V in one of the play’s pivotal moments. Henry, having just learned of the slaughter of his camp’s servant boys at the hands of the dastardly French, declares that up until that point, he’d been warring with the froggies, sure, but not with any hate in his heart. But now those bastards had gone too far, and there’d be no more gentlemanly conduct on the part of the Brits.

Besides, we’ll cut the throats of those we have,

And not a man of them that we shall take

Shall taste our mercy.

Which rather neatly brings me to CNN. Most of the CNN employees I’ve met in my life are well-meaning boobs, and even though the formerly relevant media giant is as rotten at the top as a dead carp in the sun, I’ve always been quick to defend the rank-and-file CNN cogs. Sure, I’ve written critically about the org’s many blunders and biases, but never with anger, never with hatred. That’s all changed. Seriously, not a man of them shall taste my mercy, because CNN has crossed a line.

Last week, the media giant that routinely ridicules President Trump for being petty and thin-skinned went after a random Reddit user, a nobody, a total unknown, because he posted a GIF that depicts CNN being roughed up by Donald Trump in a wrestling match. When Trump retweeted the GIF, CNN cried like a little bitch, whining about how the GIF is akin to calling for violence against the media. Of course, anyone with actual knowledge of the history of political satire (read: anyone other than the dolts who run CNN) knows that cartoons depicting someone getting clobbered in a boxing or wrestling ring have been a staple of political satirists for as long as there’s been ink and paper. There’s the classic Life magazine cartoon showing “trustbuster” Teddy Roosevelt in the ring as fighters representing monopolies like Amalgamated Copper get pulverized, and the New York Herald cartoon depicting Roosevelt in the wrestling ring beating up the railroad industry. Is there any difference, other than modern video technology, between a cartoon depicting wrestlin’ President Roosevelt body-slamming a human figure with the railroad industry for a face, and a GIF depicting wrestlin’ President Trump body-slamming a human figure with the CNN logo for a face? Nope, none at all.

“We live in an age in which the media has a double standard regarding expressing strong political opinions online.”

But again, we’re talking about CNN, a bunch of pathetic little cunts, and that nasty old GIF hurt their precious little feelings. When Twitter wouldn’t remove the offending meme, and when Trump refused to apologize for it, CNN decided, “If we can’t hurt Trump, we’ll find someone we can hurt.” So CNN put its best man on it, pseudo-journalist Andrew Kaczynski, a guy who enjoys playing investigative reporter much the same way a 4-year-old enjoys pretending to be a fireman (as in, A+ for enthusiasm, but totally not ready for the actual job), and soon enough, “Edward R. Moron” had tracked down the creator of the demonic GIF (good job, Andy! Here’s a biscuit). Interestingly, this was not the first case of its kind. In 2006, “global warming” maven Antonio Regalado, then science reporter for The Wall Street Journal, decided it was his sacred duty to track down the creator of a stupid little anti–Al Gore YouTube cartoon. In that instance, Regalado struck pay dirt, as the amateurish-looking video did in fact turn out to be the product of a high-priced lobbying firm. But the Trump/CNN GIF? It was the product of a guy with no connection to Trump, the RNC, or anyone of note. Just an average schmuck daring to voice his opinion online.

Of course, we live in an age in which the media has a double standard regarding expressing strong political opinions online. If you’re a black mestizo transsexual Muslim feminist dwarf with an eating disorder, and you tweet “fuck white cis males; they deserve to die,” you’re a hero. If you’re straight, white, and male, and you dare to be anything but polite and restrained on social media, you’re a bully. So CNN decided to show the “bully” what bullying is really like. In a self-congratulatory piece about how CNN “caught” the GIF poster (who apparently goes by the online name “HanAssholeSolo”), Kaczynski (or a copy editor) penned the following 81 words that will, hopefully, forever define CNN:

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. 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.

In a separate statement, a CNN spokesjackass added that the network feared the possibility that, should GIF Guy’s identity be released, he might face serious “safety” issues (wait, I though left-wing violence wasn’t a thing). So, bottom line, CNN acknowledged that GIF Guy could be put at serious physical risk should his identity be divulged; CNN admitted that said identity was withheld specifically because the dude removed the content, apologized for it, and pledged to never sully the ’net with such content again; and finally, CNN flat-out stated that should GIF Guy repeat his “behavior,” his identity might be revealed (possibly leading to physical harm). The following day, instead of debating the ethics of what the network had done, CNN anchors were giddy with joy, declaring the episode “remarkable.”

Two years ago, when CNN news-pustule Ashleigh Banfield invoked the violent 1980s exploits of the Jewish Defense League in an attempt to prove that Jews are as much a terror threat in the U.S. as Muslims, I wrote about my reaction as a former victim of JDL violence. I castigated CNN for its hypocrisy in trotting out the issue of JDL terror in order to score points against Trump, even though the network had remained silent back in the ’80s and ’90s when that violence was actually occurring. I also made the point that CNN and the JDL were generally in agreement about silencing opponents; they only differed on the methods.

I was more right than I could have imagined, because now CNN is resorting to the exact methods of the JDL. Twenty years ago, JDL strongman Irv Rubin put a $25,000 bounty on my head and threatened to release my address and other personal information unless I withdrew my Holocaust revisionist videos, apologized, and pledged to never again speak publicly on the topic. That’s how JDL members dealt with content they disliked; they’d use threats and coercion to get it removed. Being in my 20s and not keen on the idea of dying (or being hunted for the rest of my life), I agreed to Rubin’s terms, and his triumphant post on the JDL website after receiving my “recantation” is so similar to CNN’s boasts about defeating GIF Guy, it’s frightening. Rubin stated that because I removed my revisionist materials, apologized, and promised to never create such content again, I’d be safe from the doxxing. Congrats, CNN; you’re now the JDL.

So I admit, CNN’s behavior last week struck a nerve. In a perfect world, CNN’s actions would have resulted in a firestorm of condemnation. There would have been firings, soul-searching, and an apology from CNN chief Jeff Zucker. That there was widespread condemnation from the right was expected. That a few honest souls on the left joined in was heartening. But when I saw CNN get a pass from Poynter Institute for Media Studies “ethicist” Indira Lakshmanan, my already boiling blood went fully metastable. I mean, what good is an “ethicist” if she won’t call out unethical behavior? In an essay posted on the Poynter site, Lakshmanan admitted that she found some portions of the CNN piece “troubling,” but in the end, she concluded that it was merely a case of “unfortunate wording” that was “misinterpreted” by critics.


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