Reddit user HanAssholeSolo, the creator of a GIF depicting President Trump wrestling a man with CNN’s logo superimposed on his head—a version of which the president himself tweeted on Sunday—posted an apology for the GIF, the controversy surrounding it, and previous anti-Semitic and racist posts on Reddit, where he had first posted the CNN GIF:
I do not advocate violence against the press and the meme I posted was in no way advocating that in any way, shape, or form. Our first amendment protects the press from things like violence, and we as American citizens should respect that even if the opinions of the press are not in line with our own. The meme was created purely as satire, it was not meant to be a call to violence against CNN or any other news affiliation. ...
So to the members of this community, this site, the media (especially CNN), and anyone offended by the posts, again, I apologize. This is one individual that you will not see posting hurtful or hateful things in jest online.
CNN’s Andrew Kaczynski covered the apology (which was deleted from Reddit) in an article that detailed the network’s effort to identify HanAssholeSolo and suggested that his identity could be revealed should he continue to post material CNN finds distasteful:
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.
CNN has been criticized by some journalists, even those from mainstream outlets, for that portion of the article.
I can't emphasize how bad this is on CNN's part. This is basically "don't post stuff we don't like or we'll dox you." Extremely unethical. pic.twitter.com/5bJZIZasH0— German Lopez (@germanrlopez) July 5, 2017
Kaczynski took to Twitter after the article’s publication to defend himself.
"HanAssholeSolo" posted his apology before we *ever* spoke him. He called us afterwards to apologize further. https://t.co/X47X3u8CUy— andrew kaczynski 🤔 (@KFILE) July 5, 2017
This was someone who shared an image of CNN reporters' face with Stars of David next them.— andrew kaczynski 🤔 (@KFILE) July 5, 2017
FYI "HanAssholeSolo" just called me."I am in total agreement with your statement. I was not threatened in anyway." https://t.co/7se1B8Z29D— andrew kaczynski 🤔 (@KFILE) July 5, 2017
As Kaczynski reports, HanAssholeSolo initially appeared enthused by the attention the GIF had gotten. “After Trump tweeted the video on Sunday, he wrote, ‘HanA**holeSolo’ took to Reddit to say he was ‘honored,’ writing ‘Holy s—!! I wake up and have my morning coffee and who retweets my s—post but the MAGA EMPORER himself!!! I am honored!!’ ”
The controversy surrounding the article has already provided more fuel for right-wing animus toward CNN, recently stoked by the June 23 retraction of a story tying a member of Trump’s transition team to Russia and by a video series released last week by James O’Keefe, featuring secretly recorded footage, claiming that CNN has advanced the Russian-collusion story purely for ratings.
Far-right voices on social media, including Donald Trump Jr., have begun circulating a rumor that HanAssholeSolo is 15, which Kaczynski denies.