CNN host Michael Smerconish thinks CNN should have identified the anonymous Reddit user who took credit for a video showing President Trump body-slamming the CNN logo.
“If he continues to be a racist, if he continues to be a bigot, if he continues to be anti-Semitic, they’re gonna out him. Yeah, I like that! He should be outed,” Smerconish said on his SiriusXM radio show on Wednesday. Smerconish hosts a weekend news program for CNN.
He later added in a Facebook video on Thursday that people who “promote hate” and “attract the attention of the president” become a story and “sacrifice any right to privacy that you otherwise would have had.”
When asked by The Daily Caller via email if he thought anonymous users who make racist posts on the Internet are fair game for news organizations to identify, Smermconish said: “If that post becomes newsworthy by virtue of a retweet by a president, yes.” (RELATED: CNN Analyst: You Don’t Have The ‘Right’ To Be Anonymous)
CNN was able to track down the Reddit user’s identity earlier this week but opted not to identify the man because he posted a public apology after being contacted by CNN. The story noted that “CNN reserves the right to publish his identity should any of that change” — a line that was widely interpreted as a threat to dox the user if he posted offensive content.
When asked by a caller about the controversial story on Wednesday, Smerconish stated: “I’m kind of wishing they had already identified him.”
“Because I thought that the image of — I’m no authority on HanAssholeSolo [the Reddit user’s pseudonym] — but the image that he tweeted of all the CNN personalities with Stars of David on their foreheads I thought was offensive and when they figured out who he was, I would have been comfortable — I would have been comfortable with them saying here’s who this knucklehead is. This is the guy who has posted these bigoted, racist, anti-Semitic posts,” Smerconish stated.
The caller later stated that “it seems a little crazy for a major company of any type, especially a media company though, to release the information of a private citizen based on joke, tasteless or not, racist or not, especially given the climate we’re in.”
“If he continues to be a racist, if he continues to be a bigot, if he continues to be anti-Semitic, they’re gonna out him. Yeah, I like that! He should be outed,” Smerconish replied. “You know, anonymity gives people beer muscles for bad behavior.”
“I’m sick and tired of those who foment hate and bigotry and hide,” he added. “If you act like a HansAssholeSolo, then I would like to know who you are.”
Smerconish doubled-down on his position in a Facebook video posted on Thursday, where he explained that the Reddit user “used hate speech, and that hate speech included anti-Semitism toward a whole host CNN personalities.”
He insisted that “it’s not that they’re CNN personalities that makes me want to speak out on their behalf. It’s that they’re victims of his bigoted spreading of false information.”
“When you promote hate in the blogosphere, you attract the attention of the president, you tout the fact that the president is using your work, you’re now a story and you sacrifice any right to privacy that you otherwise would have had.” (Smerconish did not note that Trump is thought to have found the video from someone other than the original Reddit user.)
Smerconish went on to say that he welcomes debate, noting that “on my CNN program I respond in real time without any to tweets that are sent to me,” insisting: “I love the dissemination of information and the ease with which we can do it in the Internet age but too many among us have beer muscles, you know like the drunk at closing time, they take on some additional value of their own worth and contribution and they need to be reined in…It’s time to rein in the bad behavior and nasty anonymous comments are part of the problem. In this case, I think this individual sacrificed his right to privacy.”
Richard McGinnis contributed to this report.
(Special thanks to the reader who pointed out Smerconish’s Wednesday segment.)