Opinion

This hysterical CNN exposé is everything wrong with contemporary journalism

I doubt that I have ever come across a more perfect specimen of everything wrong with contemporary American journalism than the 1,229 hysterical words of "How CNN found the Reddit user behind the Trump wrestling GIF"

CNN's Andrew Kaczynski's idea of putting in overtime is apparently harassing a loser who had made a joke at the expense of Kaczynski's employer.

In my years of connoisseurship, I doubt that I have ever come across a more perfect specimen of everything wrong with contemporary American journalism than the 1,229 hysterical words of "How CNN found the Reddit user behind the Trump wrestling GIF," published on July 4. It is flawless, from the headline, with its obscurantist faux-gravity — how many septuagenarians in Indiana would find in those words anything recognizable as English, much less as breaking news? — on down to its veil-lifting megalomaniacal threat of retribution against its subject:

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. [CNN]

Here is everything I have come to hate about reading the news: the preening hysteria concerning our boring president's meaningless utterances, the obsession with social media-related non-goings-on, the messianic sense of journalistic purpose, the cringe-inducing glibness, the sinister auto-obsession with journalistic procedure, the unquestioning willingness to destroy a reputation, the tacit acceptance of the idea that people who aren't woke should suffer financial and other privations, and, above all, the ill-concealed overpowering delight in extracting a confession. If you want to understand why some liberals are almost gleeful at the idea of Trump voters losing their health care, look no further.

The piece also confirms every criticism of the media made by President Trump himself. Let's start with the ridiculous premise upon which the justification for running the story in the first place rests: Namely, that by using a popular social media website to share an animated image of himself body-slamming the logo of a cable network superimposed onto the head of the chairman of World Wrestling Entertainment, Trump "encourages violence against reporters." Does any sentient adult believe this?

Wrestling memes are not inducements to violence, or to anything except more wrestling memes. They are dumb harmless jokes; dunking GIFs and Star Wars GIFs and Donkey Kong 64 GIFs and SpongeBob GIFs are everyone's common currency on the internet; the pamphlet wars of the founding or newspaper accounts of the Lincoln-Douglas debates they ain't, but they are the closest thing we have to a spontaneously developed argot for expressing our opinions about the issues of the day. When someone makes a joke about Paul Ryan and someone else responds with a LeBron dunk on an infinite loop, we know immediately what it means, and we laugh. No one walks away from the computer, books a flight to Reagan International Airport, hops on the metro to Capitol Hill, and starts performing superhuman feats of athleticism over the head of the speaker of the House.

HanA**holeSolo appears to be a racist and an anti-Semite. He is probably a nerd. He is almost certainly, well, an a**hole. That doesn't mean he should be threatened with the loss of reputation or his means of earning a living. Recognizing this is the difference between conceiving of food, water, shelter, and medical care as rights and thinking of them not so much as a reward for good behavior — the current GOP line — but as a privilege afforded to anyone willing to give public assent to a broad spectrum of clichés.

Sorry, folks: Racist nerd a**holes have rights too.

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