CNN is pushing back after President Donald Trump tweeted a funny video on Sunday showing him wrestling the network to the ground. On Sunday, network commentators described the video as a form of incitement of violence against media; on Monday, the network reported that the video raised “questions” about “racism, bigotry, and violence … [and] antisemitism.”
Appearing on The Lead With Jake Tapper, CNN correspondent Tom Foreman cited the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) — a left-wing organization often critical of the President Trump’s administration — and its finding that the Reddit user who claimed to have created the wrestling video had posted offensive content in the past.
Foreman noted that the White House had not revealed where it found the video, except to say that it was not on Reddit. (This author remembers seeing the video on Twitter before Trump tweeted it.)
The ADL released a statement on Monday, stating that it had studied the posts by the Reddit user in question, HanAssholeSolo (the ADL declined to provide the full name), concluding that he or she “is like many other online bigots who use platforms like Reddit to anonymously share their hateful words and images.”
The ADL continued:
For more than a year, this Reddit user has violated the platform’s terms of service by posting the type of hate against Muslims, African-Americans, Jews and others that has become all too common both online and offline, according to ADL’s analysis, available here. In fact, the individual posted an image collage of CNN journalists and employees labeling them with a Star of David and writing, “Something strange about CNN…can’t quite put my finger on it…” [original link]
“We have been analyzing the online activities of this individual and found a consistent record of racism, anti-Semitism and bigotry for more than a year on Reddit,” said Jonathan A. Greenblatt, ADL CEO. “This individual traffics in online hatred and at times violent rhetoric, has created an image labeling CNN journalists with Stars of David and has written about stabbing Muslims among other violent rhetoric.
“When those on the fringes of society feel their messaging is getting mainstream attention, that should raise alarms for all Americans across the political spectrum that reject hatred and bigotry,” Greenblatt added. “We must condemn these extremists and keep them on the margins of our society.”
Last November, Greenblatt led the charge to smear former Breitbart News executive chairman Steve Bannon as an antisemite, until he was compelled to back down from the claim, given the complete lack of evidence to support it. Greenblatt was also forced to retract the claim that Breitbart News was “the premier” website for the “alt-right.” (Greenbelt backed down when questioned by Breitbart News, but the statement remains on the ADL’s website.)
The ADL’s analysis makes a convincing case that HanAssholeSolo — whose identity remains a mystery — is a bigot. But neither the ADL nor CNN provides any evidence that President Trump sourced the video from that user, or that he even knew the source, or the source’s posting history.
There is nothing in the wrestling video itself — which is based on a staged fight several years ago between Trump and World Wrestling Entertainment owner Vince McMahon — that is racist, antisemitic, or otherwise bigoted.