CNN says the anonymous Redditor who apologized for creating the video of President Trump beating up a man with a CNN logo superimposed on his head is not a 15-year-old boy, despite reports circulating on the internet.
The hashtag #CNNBlackmail started trending late Tuesday after conservative commentators alleged that the network threatened to reveal the true identity of HanAssholeSolo, with many people including Donald Trump Jr. saying he is only 15 years old.
“CNN decided not to publish the name of the Reddit user out of concern for his safety. Any assertion that the network blackmailed or coerced him is false. The user, who is an adult male, not a 15-year-old boy, apologized and deleted his account before ever speaking with our reporter. CNN never made any deal, of any kind, with the user. In fact, CNN included its decision to withhold the user’s identity in an effort to be completely transparent that there was no deal,” a network spokesperson told TheWrap.
Earlier on Wednesday, the President’s son tweeted, “So I guess they weren’t effective threatening the admin so they go after & bully a 15 y/o? Seems in line w their “standards.”
The editor of “Info Wars” sent a similar message:
The poor kid that CNN threatened to dox is reportedly only 15 years old. #CNNBlackmail
— Paul Joseph Watson (@PrisonPlanet) July 5, 2017
Actress Patricia Heaton from ABC’s “The Middle” was even fooled by the allegedly misleading information.
— Patricia Heaton (@PatriciaHeaton) July 5, 2017
The user, who calls himself “HanAssholeSolo” on Reddit, apologized and announced he was leaving Reddit.
Many online critics interpreted a statement in CNN reporter Andrew Kaczynski’s story “How CNN Found the Reddit User Behind the Trump Wrestling GIF” to mean that the network would identify “HanAssholeSolo” if he backtracks his apology or creates another post that CNN deems offensive.
But Kaczynski took to Twitter to defend his article with a series of tweets, saying that the network had not “threatened” the pseudonymous Reddit user and only spoke to him after he had posted his apology.
Kaczynski’s story featured a disclaimer that many on Twitter read as a threat to squelch future speech, a characterization the reporter denies: “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.”