How CNN Found the Reddit User Behind the Trump Wrestling GIF

CNN is protecting the identity of the Reddit user who made the infamous GIF that depicts Trump wrestling with a man whose face has been replaced with the CNN logo — an image that Trump himself tweeted with the label “FraudNewsCNN.” Journalists are not perfect. They do make mistakes. But they also follow a code of ethics, which aims to minimize harm, and thus treats private citizens differently than public figures. This one private citize has made a public apology for his actions.

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.


3 thoughts on “How CNN Found the Reddit User Behind the Trump Wrestling GIF


      CNN’s agreement with its source should not be interpreted as blackmail, however. Anonymity agreements between journalists and sources should be detailed and often include qualifying statements. The specific qualifying statement in this agreement is not something that should be common practice, though.

      Of course, CNN needs to keep its promise now that it’s agreed upon by both parties.

      Journalists should “be cautious when making promises, but keep the promises they make,” according to the Society’s Code.

    • Journalists regularly offer anonymity if there is a reasonable expectation that the source will suffer retribution for coming forward with information powerful people don’t want to be published. It’s not ethical to promise anonymity to a source who intends to use that anonymity to do something that is wrong.

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