The #CNNblackmail debacle has demonstrated two things. One; CNN really has no idea how to correctly handle stupid memes on the Internet (either ignore it, or make a counter meme) and two; the President of the United States has exactly zero respect for freedom of press.
#CNNblackmail should never have happened in the first place
Let’s get this out of the way. CNN were stupid, actually no, they were catastrophically stupid and their handling of this whole debacle has put them in the worst light possible. Even if you scratch the surface of relatively respectable websites, racist, idiotic, and downright offensive memes are churned out on a daily basis. The fact that a Trump supporter made a meme of the President literally beating up a news organization he attacks on a daily basis should really have just been par for the course. At the most, CNN’s response should have been to make fun of the situation but really, they should have completely ignored the creator.
Instead CNN chose to find the user who posted the meme, discern his identity and then brag about it on the Internet. Anybody who has spent any amount of time hanging out in the festering dive bar that is the Internet can tell you that this is a terrible, terrible idea. It makes CNN appears as though they are bullying a member of the public; especially as they reserved the right “publish his identity” if the user made more memes attacking CNN.
In short their response would have been more fitting for an angry 14 year old engaged in a flame war than that of a major cable news corporation. Instead of courting the storm of #CNNblackmail CNN should have put their investigative efforts towards the real story. The President’s unrelenting assault on the freedom of the press.
The meme is nothing special, the fact that the President shared it however…
The fact that an Internet user made a stupid offensive meme shouldn’t be news. The fact that the POTUS decided to plaster it all over his twitter feed most certainly is and should have been the focus of any CNN response.
We are talking about a President who has been attacking the press before he was even elected, threatening to “open up those libel laws” . On a daily basis he has attacked the media verbally and has in the past actively encouraged his supporters to hurt people he views as dissenters or detractors. This is A President who allowed Turkish security guards to attack American citizens during a protest against Erdogan. He is a man who calls any news that disagrees with his view of the world “fake news” or “alternative facts”.
The fact that the President of a democracy is tweeting an image of himself beating up the representation of a critical news organization should be worrying to everyone. Regardless of whether you support his presidency or not. A cornerstone of the democratic process is the right of a free press to speak without fear of being silenced or shut down. A hallmark of a dictatorship is a government that routinely threatens violence against detractors.
CNN were wrong but that does not excuse Donald Trump’s belligerence towards the press
#CNNblackmail is certainly an example of a news corporation overstepping it’s bounds. You could even make the argument that it was an attempt to attack another individual’s right of free speech. There is a case for that. It is not a valid reason to ignore or excuse President Trump’s attitude towards the press so far.
I’m a progressive. I understand the frustration of watching your favored candidate attacked in the press every single day, I’ve dealt with it every day of my adult life. As angry as it sometimes make me, I do understand is that this frustration is part of living in a democracy. I have spent years arguing against misconceptions spread about my favored candidates, trying to undo the damage done by false accusations, unfair reporting and out of context quotes. What I have never done is threaten or encourage violence against those reporters or news organizations. I could never support a candidate who would do so.
If you feel that CNN, MSNBC or anybody else in the mainstream media is treating Trump unfairly, that’s fine. Explain why, have a discussion, argue your point. Don’t threaten reporters, shout down dissent and encourage violence. One option is democracy. The other isn’t.