The hosts of CNN's "New Day" reiterated Wednesday that the network would not identify the Reddit user behind the viral GIF of President Donald Trump wrestling a man with CNN's logo imposed over his face because he apologized.
The Reddit user "HanAssholeSolo" said he created the original GIF, which became a sensation when the president himself tweeted it from his official account. It is a play on Trump's ongoing battles against the press; the original clip was Trump body-slamming WWE chairman and CEO Vince McMahon as part of their staged rivalry at 2007's "WrestleMania" event.
Afterwards, some other posts from the Reddit user's account that were anti-Semitic or racist circulated on social media, and CNN's "KFile" reporting team led by Andrew Kaczynski identified the man. Kaczynski wrote that on Monday he unsuccessfully sought to reach out to the man, and on Tuesday, the Reddit user penned an apology for posting the prior crude content and deleted his other posts.
CNN raised eyebrows, however, for writing that it had decided not to publicly identify the man because he was a private citizen who showed remorse, but "reserves the right to publish his identity should any of that change:"
After posting his apology, "HanA**holeSolo" called CNN's KFile and confirmed his identity. In the interview, "HanA**holeSolo" sounded nervous about his identity being revealed and asked to not be named out of fear for his personal safety and for the public embarrassment it would bring to him and his family.
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.
Critics said CNN was effectively blackmailing a private person by threatening to "dox" him if he posted something to its disliking on social media.
"New Day" host Alisyn Camerota said the "remarkable part" was that the man apologized, although fellow how Chris Cuomo asked why he had such content on his account in the first place.
"The reason that I think this is so notable ... This is a very, full-throated, genuine honest apology," Camerota said. "He has also asked that we not reveal his name or whereabouts, and we at CNN are honoring that because he's apologized, and he thinks that he would then be in danger and at risk if other people knew his name. We get it. We understand that."
Fellow CNN reporter Chris Cillizza said it was a "nice thing" that he apologized.
Kaczynski said on Twitter that the Reddit user was a middle-aged man and that the line about publishing his identity was being misinterpreted.