In case you missed it/blocked it out, President Trump on Sunday tweeted this video of himself beating up "CNN" during a wrestling match.
The clip is originally from a 2007 appearance Trump made on WWE's WrestleMania in which he tussled with wrestling CEO Vince McMahon. (Fun fact: Linda McMahon, Vince's wife, is now the small-business administrator in Trump's cabinet. Good times.)
The network denounced Trump's tweet, saying it encouraged violence against reporters.
The wrestling video was originally lifted from a post on Reddit for Trump's fans. The clip, which had no sound in the Reddit version, was posted by a user named “HanAssholeSolo.”
"Congratulations /u/HanAssholeSolo, your dankery has been tweeted by the President of the United States," a fellow redditor commented on the post after Sunday's tweet.
Trolls then started attacking Sexton and sending him death threats, he told HuffPost.
“There’s a fever pitch to this dialogue that is dangerous to everybody,” Sexton said. “And it’s the people who are mentally ill, who are unhinged, who are unwell — they pick up on this stuff. And they are really, really moved to act by it.”
The White House hasn't said where it got the video, nor if it's sorry for using work made by someone who trades in anti-Semitism.
In the days since their old posts were exposed, HanAssholeSolo has wiped all his old Reddit activity — but on Tuesday he posted this apology.
The post is titled, "To my fellow redditors in this community, the rest of reddit and the media/public, I apologize."
The Reddit user apologizes for the controversy, and says he was "trolling" and never supported the hateful things he posted.
"As time went on it became an addiction as to how far it could go with the posts that were made," the user wrote. "This has been an extreme wake up call to always consider how others may think or feel about what is being said before clicking the submit button anywhere online that an opinion is allowed."
The Reddit user said the CNN video was supposed to be satire and was not intended to promote violence against the press.
The apology concluded with an anti-trolling message, encouraging those who engage in such behavior to seek help.
"Trolling is nothing more than bullying a wide audience," the user wrote.
The post was quickly locked by the moderators of The Donald subreddit, as was a subsequent repost, which prevented people from viewing or commenting on the apology — but some had already done so.
When news of the apology reached Twitter, some praised the Reddit user for denouncing trolling.
But many others were skeptical whether the apology was actually sincere.
Some theorized that the Reddit user was trying to neutralize the controversy and avoid being publicly identified.
Sure enough, CNN revealed it had identified and contacted the Reddit user before he posted his apology.
CNN said it was able to identify the man based on "details he had made available on Reddit" that it then corroborated using his other social media platforms.
CNN said the Reddit user returned its calls after he posted his apology, and that he thought the White House "should have used their better judgment" before posting the tweet.
The network declined to name the man, calling him "a private citizen who has issued an extensive statement of apology" and noting he had promised not "to repeat this ugly behavior on social media again."
But it did say also, "CNN reserves the right to publish his identity should any of that change."
This line raised a few eyebrows in media circles.
WikiLeaks then tweeted that "CNN is worse" than Trump.
Right-wing figures soon began attacking the network and the hashtag #CNNblackmail began trending.
Andrew Kaczynski, the CNN reporter who wrote the story, said the line was being misinterpreted.
Kaczynski also said the Reddit user told him he did not feel threatened by the wording in the story.
HanAssholeSolo did not immediately respond to a Reddit message seeking comment.
The full apology reads:
My fellow redditors,
First of all, I would like to apologize to the members of the reddit community for getting this site and this sub embroiled in a controversy that should never have happened. I would also like to apologize for the posts made that were racist, bigoted, and anti-semitic. I am in no way this kind of person, I love and accept people of all walks of life and have done so for my entire life. I am not the person that the media portrays me to be in real life, I was trolling and posting things to get a reaction from the subs on reddit and never meant any of the hateful things I said in those posts. I would never support any kind of violence or actions against others simply for what they believe in, their religion, or the lifestyle they choose to have. Nor would I carry out any violence against anyone based upon that or support anyone who did.
As time went on it became an addiction as to how far it could go with the posts that were made. This has been an extreme wake up call to always consider how others may think or feel about what is being said before clicking the submit button anywhere online that an opinion is allowed. Free speech is a right we all have, but it shouldn’t be used in the manner that it was in the posts that were put on this site. Just because you are behind a keyboard doesn’t mean you can’t hurt someone with your words or cause a situation such as this one where a simple meme is misconstrued as calling for violence.
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. I had no idea anyone would take it and put sound to it and then have it put up on the President’s Twitter feed. It was a prank, nothing more. What the President’s feed showed was not the original post that was posted here, but loaded up somewhere else and sound added to it then sent out on Twitter. I thought it was the original post that was made and that is why I took credit for it. I have the highest respect for the journalist community and they put their lives on the line every day with the jobs that they do in reporting the news.
The Internet and social media is capable of many great things, and this is an example of the not so great things that it can do. Trolling to get a reaction out of people is not the best way to make a point, the way to do it is to present your facts in a manner to convey the message that will not invoke anger. To people who troll on the Internet for fun, consider your words and actions conveyed in your message and who it might upset or anger. Put yourself in their shoes before you post it. If you have a problem with trolling it is an addiction just like any other addiction someone can have to something and don’t be embarrassed to ask for help. Trolling is nothing more than bullying a wide audience. Don’t feed your own self-worth based upon inflicting suffering upon others online just because you are behind a keyboard. We as redditors and as Americans are better than this.
So to the members of this community, the 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. This is my last post from this account and I wanted to do it on a positive note and hopefully it will heal the controversy that this all caused. Peace.
“The more you know yourself, the less judgmental you become” ― Aniekee Tochukwu Ezekiel
This story was updated to add the details from CNN.
David Mack is a reporter and weekend editor for BuzzFeed News and is based in New York.
Contact David Mack at email@example.com.
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