A CNN reporter is pushing back against critics, including Donald Trump Jr., who are suggesting that he blackmailed the Reddit user who created a video of President Donald Trump pummeling a man with the CNN logo superimposed on his face.
Reporter Andrew Kaczynski wrote Wednesday that Reddit user “HanA**holeSolo” created the video of Trump, which was tweeted by the president on Sunday.
Trump's tweet that included the video is now the president's most shared post on the social media site, having been retweeted more than 340,000 times as of early Wednesday morning.
HanA**holeSolo later took down the post and wrote an apology for posting the video and other anti-Semitic and racist posts, CNN reported. NBC News has not been able to verify the identity of HanA**holeSolo.
In his report, Kaczynski wrote CNN had confirmed the Reddit user’s identity, but would not publish his 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.”
Kaczynski added, “CNN reserves the right to publish his identity should any of that change.”
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Conservatives on social media, including Trump Jr., seized on the caveat, painting it as blackmail by CNN.
“The Modern Left is Dangerous. They tracked down, bullied and threatened a Private Citizen into submission because of a Gif. #cnnblackmail,” one Twitter user wroter.
“CNN showed their patriotism on July 4th by blackmailing the person who made an anti-CNN video. #CNNBlackmail,” another wrote.
The network defended its reporting in a statement Wednesay, writing: "CNN decided not to publish the name of the Reddit user out of concern for his safety. Any assertion that the network blackmailed or coerced him is false. The user, who is an adult male, not a 15-year-old boy, apologized and deleted his account before ever speaking with our reporter.”
Trump Jr. posted a number of critical tweets about the language in Kaczynski’s report, including one that suggested — without evidence — that the Reddit user who made the video is 15 years old.
“So I guess they weren't effective threatening the admin so they go after & bully a 15 y/o? Seems in line w their "standards" #CNNBlackmail,” Trump Jr. wrote on Twitter.
On Twitter, Kaczynski defended his report, writing the Reddit user is middle aged and saying the caveat of releasing his name was only meant to convey that CNN had not made an agreement with him about releasing his identity.
“This line is being misinterpreted. It was intended only to mean we made no agreement w/the man about his identity,” he wrote in one tweet.
In response to Trump Jr., Kacynski wrote: “Again. HanA**holeSolo is not 15 or anywhere close to it. This is POTUS' son spreading misinformation.”