Andrew Kaczynski, head of the network’s Republican oppo research unit “KFILE,” and CNN gave a misleading defense after being on the receiving end of an intense backlash to a Sunday night post boasting that he had tracked down and identified a man who claimed credit for a gif shared by President Donald Trump — and that CNN may reveal his identity if the man chooses to “repeat this ugly behavior.”
Reddit user “u/HanAssholeSolo” posted an apology to CNN and journalists at the raucous pro-Trump subreddit “r/The_Donald” earlier in the evening, saying he did not create the specific WWE-themed video that Trump tweeted. Kaczynski, in a story titled “How CNN found the Reddit user behind the Trump wrestling GIF,” revealed that this individual posted the apology after the CNN reporter had discovered his identity and sent him an email asking to talk.
Dozens of celebrities, commentators, politicians, and journalists criticized the network, all across the political spectrum — from Donald Trump Jr. to YouTuber Philip DeFrancoto WikiLeaks to anti-Gamergate stalwart Brianna Wu. The hashtag #CNNBlackmail became the number one trending topic on Twitter, with many critics calling the sentence about CNN “reserving the right” to release the man’s name as a “threat” to “dox” him.
Kaczynski distanced himself from the proverbial scalp, saying that the man “posted his apology before we *ever* spoke [to] him.”