Donald Trump Jr. is up in arms about a CNN GIF — or rather, the mainstream media’s “bullying” of a Reddit user who reportedly created a CNN GIF. He tweeted that the news network had intended to “go after” the Reddit user, who he alleged was only 15 years old.
The origins of this tweet lie with another that the president sent on Sunday:
CNN’s K-File quickly traced the GIF to a redditor active on a pro-Trump subreddit called r/The_Donald who had a history of tweeting anti-Semitic and racist memes. Though CNN identified the user, their name or other identifying information has not yet been released to the public via mainstream media.
CNN published a piece on Tuesday outlining its investigation into the origin of the image and its discovery of the identity of the creator, a Reddit user by the name of HanAssholeSolo. The section that prompted so much outrage said that CNN reserved the right to publish the user’s identifying information:
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.
The CNN reporter who wrote the piece, Andrew Kaczynski, said the bullying charges were unfounded and that the line had been “misinterpreted.”
This line is being misinterpreted. It was intended only to mean we made no agreement w/the man about his identity. https://t.co/9FL6EvTikx— andrew kaczynski (@KFILE) July 5, 2017
Kaczynski also said that reports that the Reddit user is 15 were “wrong,” and specifically mentioned Donald Trump Jr.’s tweet.
Again. HanAssholeSolo is not 15 or anywhere close to it. This is POTUS' son spreading misinformation. pic.twitter.com/AB98NLn7nc— andrew kaczynski (@KFILE) July 5, 2017
It is unclear where the disputed claim that the redditor is 15 years old originated; however, it has been a popular refrain among those on Twitter who are criticizing CNN, Trump Jr. among them.
Paul Joseph Watson, editor of Infowars, and Lucian Wintrich, White House correspondent for the Gateway Pundit, tweeted claims that the Reddit user was 15. Both publications are far-right websites often aligned with the white supremacist alt-right.
The poor kid that CNN threatened to dox is reportedly only 15 years old. #CNNBlackmail— Paul Joseph Watson (@PrisonPlanet) July 5, 2017
But this has never been unwelcome company for Trump Jr., who oversees the Trump Organization with his brother Eric while their father is in office. As Vox’s Libby Nelson wrote of Trump Jr. in a piece on the Trump campaign:
He tweeted and instagrammed a “Deplorables” meme that included Pepe the Frog, a symbol now used by white supremacists and the alt-right. He claimed that if his father had acted like Hillary Clinton, “they’d be warming up the gas chamber.” He tweeted an article warning that immigration in Europe would lead to a “rape epidemic” and another with a debunked rumor that Clinton used a “secret earpiece” during a presidential forum. He compared refugees to poisoned Skittles.
He has also peddled conspiracy theories about Hillary Clinton during the campaign and suggested in April that Mike Cernovich, an alt-right conspiracy theorist and author, should win the Pulitzer Prize.
Donald Trump Jr.’s Twitter behavior is part of a pattern of circulating right-wing memes and news that’s often not thoroughly checked. It’s a worrying pattern for someone who has the ear of the president of the United States.