Debullshitifying the free speech debate about CNN and Trump's alt-right wrestling GIF

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Ah, Popehat. There’s about an ounce’s worth of sanity left on the Internet and about half is on that site, I swear.


Well I say to hell with hi-

Wait, is he on our side or theirs?



I’ve been observing american media from overseas for quite a while now, and even though I find Trump intensely dis-likable,CNN is almost unwatchable since it became the “we hate donald trump” station 24/7.


I guess I missed the initial meme release. I was busy inadvertently watching John Leguizamo movies.

But Christ, what a shit show. The meme itself is just stupid like most memes. It isn’t really offensive. The fact that the guy who posted it said other offensive stuff is sort of moot. You have no idea the person behind half the shit that goes viral. They could kick puppies and prick babies with needles - who knows. All it takes is a few people to post it and it gets back to Trump.

Now most presidents - I dare say all presidents of the past - would have maybe chuckled and showed some other people in the room. Trump is the only one lacking enough class that he then actually tweets it out. I swear to god, he has the impulse control of a 15 year old. It’s just appalling.

And we all eat that shit up. And CNN didn’t just ignore, it they ran with it. Trying to turn it into… something. Nearly outing a shitposter doing it for the lols. And the fires of political rage are further stoked.

I am going to go listen to NIN to cheer up.


I think the source is relevant because it’s not the first time Trump has retweeted something from a seedy, antisemitic source.

That said, CNN pushed the story too hard, and anyone claiming the GIF is a threat is really, really reaching.

I read CNN’s statement that it could reveal Mr. AssholeSolo’s identity at a future date as ass-covering liability stuff, but yeah, it sure does sound like a threat and I’m baffled that nobody read it and said so before it was published.


Popehat really doesn’t get into what America’s giant corporate media vs some flavour of anonymous online neo fascist actually means for free speech. Instead we get a liberal idealist parsing of free speech without looking at the material structure that underlies public discourse. Things like media ownership & concentration; the fact it’s a profit driven business; that it has a history of being ideologically friendly to the status quo; etc. Or how far right views have always gotten a more serious hearing in the US mainstream media than views left of centrist Democrats. I don’t think applying some consistent & coherent approach to free speech is going to fix America’s totally warped political culture without addressing the decades worth of money spent spreading lies to fog everything up. Something outlets like CNN participated in, even if the spawn of this process now think the network is run by antisemitic caricatures.





Sorry for straying from the topic, but this image is an optic assault.

The ridiculous censoring of “asshole” is also worth mentioning.


Originally I agreed with that perspective. But two things changed my mind.

  1. If the sense of the video were reversed and CNN was beating the shit out of Trump, that would not go over so well. Now instead of CNN, imagine a balaclava wearing antifa type which is, I think, a fair comparison because those types are more in line with being an ‘enemy’ of Trump specifically in the way that Trump accuses CNN of being out to get him personally.
  2. Trump published it. If it had languished in the backwaters of r/The_Donald/ then it would be no big deal. But once Trump put his imprimatur on it, it became a lot more threatening because of his prior exhortations to violence. If I were on the other end of a message like that from Kim Jong Don I would be very uncomfortable.

Yeah, me too. And rumours I’ve seen are that it was added by the editors, not the reporters. I took the whole thing as “the guy begged us not to out him, he seemed genuine so the value of reporting his identity wasn’t worth the personal cost to him, but if his identity becomes newsworthy in the future then we will re-evaluate.” But damn, if that’s what they meant they sure chose their words poorly.

If, on the other hand, they wanted to stir shit up in order to get get more clicks. Well, mission accomplished.


Possibly. Or more possibly, it came from that big Trump subreddit, which is a shit show, but not exactly underground. Or even more likely someone showed someone who showed someone. I mean, I am sure I am 7 degrees from knowing Kevin Bacon, so the idea that someone shared something on a pro Trump forum getting some how in front of him isn’t that far fetched.

Honestly, I don’t think he is tech savvy enough to find his way around Reddit, and if he was a regular user, I don’t think he could resist posting directly to it.

Yeah but 5 year olds usually listen to you when you yell at them. 15 year olds are like, “Whateva I do what I want.”

How so? Pretty sure CNN still has SOME integrity deep down to avoid using vulgarity that would probably get an FCC fine on TV.

He repeated it, he didn’t create it. I mean really, ANYONE else and it would just be a smart assed meme. It isn’t like politicians don’t have to “battle” the press day to day. That has been going on since before 1776.

It’s a childish, immature, stupid meme that isn’t befitting a grown man, let alone a president of anything greater than a Banana Republic.

If you think that was a threat, I think you must have actually been threatened in your life.

Oh, great example. He doesn’t pussy-foot around.

Note - I just searched in youtube for the video, not familiar with the channel that posted it.

Indeed, that’s the sane reading of their intent there.
It looked to me like standard boilerplate for a journalist to cover their ass and keep their options open when dealing with an unreliable source.

… of course that was my cold reading - because I saw the kerfuffle about the CNN statement long before I knew anything about any gif. (I do not follow the orange ones twitter feed, and my life is better for it)
As I didn’t know CNN was actually the aggrieved party here, it looked like a totally even-handed disclaimer, not threatening at all.
And now, even with that extra info, I don’t feel any different. If I thought it looked like a fair and bland statement before I knew the source or partisanship of the info or the grudges in play, I’d be hypocritical to change my mind later. In this case, anyway.

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I guess, but he also defends Citizen’s United as a win for freedom of speech because he defends nearly everything as a freedom of speech issue.


Repeating it is still publishing it.

I think we should stop trivializing what he does on twitter. Everything he puts on twitter is an official statement from the president of the united states.

To that end:


He trivializes it by posting garbage.

ETA - an official statement means about as much as a National Enquirer headline now.


You give him that much maturity? I would say a 5 year old.

EDIT @Melz2 beat me to it.


I was only commenting on the censoring of the text online, not the television news piece: I just find it silly that they merely replace two S’s with two asterisks. Either censor the whole word or not at all—don’t half-ass it!

Agreed. But having news networks that cannot be relied on for objectivity is bad for everyone. If not objectivity, perhaps they can try to avoid blatant partisan propagandizing.
We are all dismayed at Trump’s tweets. But he spends two minutes on a tweet, and CNN spends six hours whining about it.

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It’s not partisan to shitcan Trump; it’s merely the sane response to anything he does.