CNN Committed Multiple Felonies
So arrogant and self-righteous have liberal news outlets become, that they now take it upon themselves to hunt down and blackmail private citizens who dare to mock their pomposity or make fun of the self-appointed hall monitors of news. Blackmail is a harsh term, but it applies to what CNN did to the Reddit user who made the now-famous wrestling GIF showing Trump pummeling an opponent with a CNN logo for a head. As Fox News Insider reported:
On Sunday, the president tweeted a GIF of himself wrestling and punching a man with the CNN logo superimposed over his head. In an article Tuesday, Kaczynski wrote that he uncovered the identity of the Reddit user who created the GIF -- user name “HanA**holeSolo” -- by comparing information posted on Reddit to Facebook profiles…
“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,” the article stated. “CNN reserves the right to publish his identity should any of that change.”
Now, some are accusing CNN and Kaczynski of "blackmailing" HanA**holeSolo by threatening to release his identity.
I count myself among those who believe CNN committed crimes by their actions. CNN took upon itself the role of social media traffic cop with the power to regulate the free speech of others. This multinational media conglomerate was so afraid of an Internet troll that it took police state action against an individual whose opinions, however bizarre, it disagreed with. Bow, everyone, before CNN.
Republican Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas has come forward with a suggestion that I agree with -- that CNN, by threatening exposure of the Reddit user who created the Trump/CNN wrestling gif, committed a felony. The only question may be which one -- or maybe more than one.
Cruz took to Twitter to suggest that Atlanta-based CNN may be in violation of Georgia state law regarding what is called “theft by extortion”:
“Troubling. I assume CNN's lawyers are examining GA § 16-8-16 Theft by extortion. If CNN constructively obtained the gif-maker's IP... it's a GA crime if they threatened to ‘Disseminate any information tending to subject any person to hatred, contempt, or ridicule....’” he wrote, citing a portion of the statute.
But there are also federal and New York State statues that CNN arguably violated, according to Fox News legal analyst Gregg Jarrett and Trump aide Anthony Scaramucci:
Speaking on ‘Hannity’ Wednesday night, guest-host Jeanine Pirro asked Fox’s Gregg Jarrett and Trump aide Anthony Scaramucci to weigh-in on allegations that CNN violated state and federal law when it threatened the source behind the infamous Trump-wrestling video clip.
“Think about what CNN has done,” said Jarrett. “They have said, ‘If you Mr. Reddit user do something that we don’t like, we’re going to publicly expose you to contempt and ridicule and scorn.’ That’s a violation of the law.”
“The real straight-forward law of coercion says you can’t threaten somebody to coerce them in to abstaining from otherwise legal behavior, that’s an absolute crime,” he added.
Jarrett went on to explain that not only did CNN violate New York State Coercion laws, it also violated a specific federal statute.
“You also have a federal law, it’s called ‘Conspiracy Against Rights.’ It basically says you can’t threaten and intimidate somebody for using their constitutional right to freedom of speech under the first amendment,” he said.
Belligerent and malicious CNN has jumped the shark before and faced a $100 million lawsuit after falsely linking Scaramucci to Russian operatives. CNN had to retract the false story after which three of those responsible chose to “resign:”
The specter of a $100 million libel suit scared CNN into retracting a poorly reported story that slimed an ally of President Trump’s -- and forcing out the staffers responsible for it, The Post has learned.
CNN immediately caved after Scaramucci, a financier and frequent network guest, cried foul and threatened to take legal action, sources said Tuesday.
Scaramucci got an unusual public apology but still hired a top Manhattan lawyer to put further pressure on CNN and “look after [his] interests in this matter,” one source said.
Sources also said the three journalists responsible for the retracted story -- reporter Tom Frank, editor Eric Lichtblau and Lex Haris, who headed the CNN Investigates unit -- were urged to resign.
Wikilealks founder Julian Assange has come forward to cite the actual statutes CNN arguably violated. While the phrase “consider the source” might apply, others, including Jarrett, have made the same citations, specifically 135.60 of the New York criminal code regarding “coercion: and 18 U.S. Code 241 -- conspiracy against rights: As Ronn Blitzer of the legal website LawNewz points out:
Now, Assange could just be having some fun at CNN’s expense for beating the GIF story further into the ground -- and putting themselves at the center of it, but the truth is, he has a point. Andrew Kaczynski, the author of the article, is based in New York (as per his Twitter profile), so the NY statute could apply, assuming that’s where he and CNN published the article. Taking a look at the elements of the statute itself, New York Penal Law § 135.60 says that a person is guilty of coercion in the second degree if he:
compels or induces a person to… abstain from engaging in conduct in which he or she has a legal right to engage… by means of instilling in him or her a fear that, if the demand is not complied with, the actor or another will… Expose a secret or publicize an asserted fact, whether true or false, tending to subject some person to hatred, contempt or ridicule
CNN is saying that they will reveal the user’s private identity, currently kept anonymous in his Reddit posts, if he doesn’t stop to post offensive material (which he is legally allowed to do). That sure sounds like it fits the bill.
The federal law that Assange tweeted about is a little iffier. That statute defines conspiracy as:
If two or more persons conspire to injure, oppress, threaten, or intimidate any person in any State, Territory, Commonwealth, Possession, or District in the free exercise or enjoyment of any right or privilege secured to him by the Constitution or laws of the United States[.]
Kaczynski is one person and the second could be anyone at CNN that approved the story’s thrust and purpose. Granted, we live in an era where obviously guilty felons such as Lois Lerner and Hillary Clinton get a free pass and leakers of classified material remain unidentified and unprosecuted. But, as they say, there’s a new sheriff in town. Freedom of the press is not a license to coerce, intimidate or otherwise blackmail perceived critics. The press is protected by law, but it is not above the law. Here, quite clearly, CNN -- the Criminal News Network -- broke the law.
Daniel John Sobieski is a freelance writer whose pieces have appeared in Investor’s Business Daily, Human Events, Reason Magazine and the Chicago Sun-Times among other publications.