Right-wingers like Ann Coulter love to accuse the Left of playing victim, but their skills at playing victim are on par with Daniel Day-Lewis. All you have to do is read any one of The New York Times’ profiles of Trump voters who live in blue states and have a hard time to see how the American media machine asks us to pity their struggle rather than, say, the 15 murdered trans women of color from the first half of 2017, 10 of whom reside in red states.
Now the Right is rushing to defend one of their own, Redditor HanAssholeSolo, who made the GIF of Trump tackling Vince McMahon with the CNN logo superimposed over his face, and as a result, they’ve begun the #CNNBlackmail hashtag, a sinister viral campaign that distorts the narrative, taking it from “Stand up to bullies” and making it about “The MSM hates us!”
Briefly, over the weekend, CNN discovered HanAssholeSolo’s Reddit profile found a history of anti-semitic and racist posts. Through cross-checking his commonalities between social media platforms, they found his name and contacted him. He took down his profile and posted a lengthy apology, now deleted from the site, but viewable here:
— Brandon Wall (@Walldo) July 4, 2017
While it’s possible his apology isn’t genuine. I’m willing to give him the benefit of the doubt, given the way internet shaming can wreck a person’s livelihood (read Jon Ronson’s excellent So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed to learn more about this), while also holding in mind that he’s said some really terrible things that deserve condemnation, and if he continues this behavior, then he should be outed and thrown under the bus.
I say “outed” because Andrew Kaczynski, the reporter who wrote the article, phrased his reasons for not giving out his name in an interesting way:
“After posting his apology, ‘HanA**holeSolo’ called CNN’s KFile and confirmed his identity. In the interview, ‘HanA**holeSolo’ sounded nervous about his identity being revealed and asked to not be named out of fear for his personal safety and for the public embarrassment it would bring to him and his family.
“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.”
This “moralistic, paternal tone of reasoning,” in the words of New York Magazine’s Madison Malone Kircher, may not have been the best way to go about writing this. CNN may have made the right decision to preserve his anonymity, but dropping the threat that they could give it out whenever they wanted was a PR mistake, since it was just enough of an enticement for people willing to distrust anything the mainstream media says to declare war on them.
Thus, Twitter has been subjected to posts like these today:
— Donald Trump Jr. (@DonaldJTrumpJr) July 5, 2017
— Mike Cernovich 🇺🇸 (@Cernovich) July 5, 2017
— Michael Hargett (@michaelhargett) July 5, 2017
— Jack Posobiec🇺🇸 (@JackPosobiec) July 5, 2017
— Lucian B. Wintrich (@lucianwintrich) July 5, 2017
One of the mysterious claims the right-wingers (and alt-lefties like Daily Banter favorite HA “Ma, the meatloaf!” Goodman) are making is that HanAssholeSolo is 15 years old. CNN’s Andrew Kaczynski, who wrote the article in question, has denied this, and Newsweek reports that it’s unclear how this conclusion was reached. Besides, there’s proof that he’s 37 years old from a Reddit post where he says “I’m 37 years old,” so this theory on its own has no wings. That said, the fact that it’s circulating at all, and that people believe it, is a testament to how strong Right Wing deception campaigns are, especially when they’ve got actual Nazis behind them.
That’s right. In the Southern Poverty Law Center article linked above, the alt-right website Daily Stormer was part of the operation to threaten and export CNN, led by hacker Andrew Auernheimer (aka Weev), who said:
“We are going to track down your parents. We are going to track down your siblings. We are going to track down your spouses. We are going to track down your children. Because hey, that’s what you guys get to do, right? We’re going to see how you like it when our reporters are hunting down your children.”
Sheesh, with friends like these…
Whatever the reason for inventing this lie that HanAssholeSolo is 15, it’s another way the right likes to rally around its own any time they’re called out on their hateful ways. Just saying, “the media is attacking us!” has been a way for the right wing to call foul since Nixon, and as a result, we’ve seen the media bend over backwards to placate these people with “balance,” whether it’s criticizing Obama for the tan suit or saying the word “emails” 800 times a second. HanAssholeSolo may not be a minor, but if they make him one, then it’s just another way to go after the evil MSM and garner sympathy for their cause. It’s downright disgusting, and yet, Trump wouldn’t have “won” the election without his appeals to white voters that they were being beaten down by immigrants and POC.
The #CNNBlackmail hashtag is just another example of their tired game that we all should be wise to by now. The more we can nip these victimhood campaigns in the bud before they take off, the better.
Jeremy Fassler is a writer and journalist living in Brooklyn, New York.