The recent #CNNBlackmail fiasco could prove problematic for CNN’s parent company, Time Warner. The company is currently in the process of being sold to mobile carrier AT&T for a reported sum of $85 billion.
The news network is currently in hot water after it published an article threatening to dox the creator behind the wrestling meme that President Trump posted on his Twitter page. The meme was a short clip from WWE’s Wrestlemania 23, where Donald Trump is seen tackling Vince McMahon, whose face was replaced with CNN’s logo.
For those unfamiliar with the term, doxxing is an internet slang which refers to publicly sharing an individual’s private information. The intended purpose of doxxing ranges from shaming, harassment, instigating mob justice and blackmailing.
After President Trump had tweeted the meme to the delight of many of his supporters, many personalities on both sides of the aisle were quick to condemn the act. Many said that such action is not something a president should do. Many in the media also claimed that the meme incites violence against CNN and the mainstream media as a whole.
In response, the news network launched an investigation using its investigative team, KFile, headed by Andrew Kaczynski. The team successfully tracked the meme’s origins to Reddit and a user going by the handle “HanA**holeSolo.”
KFile soon learned the identity of the person through the identifying information posted on Reddit, and with a little bit of digging, soon found out the person’s address. The team tried to contact the person via phone and email to no avail.
It was not until Tuesday that “HanA**holeSolo” posted a formal apology on the subreddit /The_Donald saying he was sorry and had deleted all his offensive memes. CNN later congratulated itself by posting an article about the event.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 2, 2017
However, this proved to be a double-edged sword for the network because as they showed their prowess in investigative journalism, their choice of words seemed threatening. According to their statement, they will refrain from publishing information pertaining to “HanA**holeSolo” because “he is a private citizen AND showed his remorse by saying he has taken down all his offending posts.”
This statement was interpreted by many as the network trying to bully the individual who was just practicing his First Amendment rights. But what followed was even worse. At the end of the article, the network issued a statement that can only be described as a threat.
“CNN reserves the right to publish his identity should any of that change,” the statement read. This was a corporate giant threatening to dox a private individual, possibly costing him his occupation and his safety, because he practiced his First Amendment rights.
What followed next was a backlash of epic proportions with the hashtag #CNNBlackmail trending on Twitter. Donald Trump’s son, Donald Jr., condemned CNN’s behavior along with many others. Several prominent personalities on the alternative media also followed suit calling the network’s actions the “death throes” of a dying media platform.
— Donald Trump Jr. (@DonaldJTrumpJr) July 5, 2017
This controversy has left many business insiders concerned regarding the ongoing merger between CNN’s parent company, Time Warner, and AT&T. The news network is a large part of that deal and could cost Time Warner a lot of leverage, if not outright lose billions of dollars in the deal.
The network’s ongoing feud with President Trump is already being labeled a “wild card” in the midst of the ongoing merger. The Justice Department is currently deliberating over the merger, something that they could potentially choose to undermine, reports Business Insider.
The recent controversy is also not helping the case of CNN President Jeff Zucker who the AT&T is already looking to “neutralize,” reports the New York Post. Under Zucker, the company has already taken a number of missteps prior to the #CNNBlackmail incident, including “Believer” host Reza Aslan’s profane anti-Trump tweet.
A source says these blunders have made CNN too polarizing an asset for AT&T executives. Zucker is currently in danger of being stripped of his position and moved somewhere else on the corporate ladder or being kicked to the curb entirely, and the recent controversy could very well result in the latter.
Unless CNN regains its credibility in the wake of these events, the Time Warner-AT&T deal remains on shaky ground.
[Featured Image by Evan Agostini/AP Images]