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Should Ad Age Name the CNN Reporter Who Threatened to Unmask a Reddit Troll?

By Published on .

Ad Age "Media Guy" columnist Simon Dumenco's media roundup for the morning of Wednesday, July 5:

I hope you had a relaxing Fourth of July holiday, because today's media scan is ... pretty tense! Anyway, let's get started ...

1. The top story on the front page of The New York Times this morning is headlined "North Korea Crosses a Line, But U.S. Has Few Options." The web version of the piece, an analysis by David E. Sanger titled "What Can Trump Do About North Korea? His Options Are Few and Risky," begins,

When President-elect Donald J. Trump said on Twitter in early January that a North Korean test of an intercontinental ballistic missile capable of reaching the United States "won't happen!" there were two things he still did not fully appreciate: how close Kim Jong-un, the North's leader, was to reaching that goal, and how limited any president's options were to stop him. The ensuing six months have been a brutal education for President Trump.

+ The Times doubles down on that limited-options theme with the top story on the nytimes.com homepage this morning: "In North Korea, 'Surgical Strike' Could Spin Into 'Worst Kind of Fighting'."

2. Rupert Murdoch's New York Post, meanwhile, takes a much less subtle approach:

By the way, The Juneau Empire -- "The Voice of Alaska's Capital Since 1912" -- curiously avoids the North Korea news on its front page this morning, instead opting for photos from the local Fourth of July fireworks and parade. Meanwhile, the Daily News-Miner -- "The Voice of Interior Alaska" -- went with a full-width headline, "N. Korea tests intercontinental missile," topping pick-up of an Associated Press story titled "N. Korea vows more 'gift packages' of missile tests for US."

3. Speaking of the Post, I can't resist sharing Tuesday's front page too -- that headline! -- on the presumption that maybe you weren't paying terribly close attention yesterday:

The Post licensed that photo (the one on the right!) from NJ Advance Media (one of a series of companies involved in publishing Advance-owned newspapers including The Star-Ledger and The Jersey Journal), which originally ran a slide show of New Jersey Governor Chris Christie on NJ.com on the eve of the Fourth of July holiday in a post titled "PHOTOS: Christie, family soak up sun on N.J. beach he closed to public."

+ The story behind the story, by photographer Andrew Mills: "The plane truth: How we caught Chris Christie sunbathing on a closed beach."

4. A CNN post titled "How CNN found the Reddit user behind the Trump wrestling GIF" begins,

The Reddit user who initially claimed credit for President Donald Trump's tweet that showed Trump tackling CNN issued an apology Tuesday for the video and other offensive content he posted -- one day after CNN identified the man behind the account and attempted to make contact with him.

And from there it gets even more interesting: As the CNN story recounts, the Redditor, who goes by HanAssholeSolo, called CNN and confirmed they got the right guy and "asked to not be named out of fear for his personal safety and for the public embarrassment it would bring to him and his family" (turns out he'd also published racist and anti-Semitic stuff on Reddit). CNN adds that,

CNN is not publishing "HanA**holeSolo's" 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. In addition, he said his statement could serve as an example to others not to do the same. CNN reserves the right to publish his identity should any of that change.

5. Are your eyebrows raised -- particularly at that last line? Because some eyebrows are definitely ... raising, per this Slate post: "Reddit User Apologizes for Trump-CNN GIF; CNN Coverage Raises Eyebrows."

+ "Donald Trump Jr., Julian Assange Blast CNN Deal With Redditor Behind Donald Trump's Network-Bashing GIF," via Deadline.

6. But let's back up for a minute. Per CNN, "Using identifying information that 'HanA**holeSolo' posted on Reddit, [CNN reporting unit] KFile was able to determine key biographical details, to find the man's name using a Facebook search and ultimately corroborate details he had made available on Reddit."

I've given this a lot of thought and I've decided to identify the CNN reporter who wrote that eyebrow-raising post. He is ... Andrew Kaczynski. It turns out Kaczynski left an identifying detail -- his byline -- on the story and by systematically scrolling through the post I was able to put two and two together.

7. And finally, I often stick something kind of fun in the final media roundup slot -- but nah, not today. Not in the mood. Instead, a well-timed story from Quartz: "Psychologists have identified the kind of emotional intelligence that makes internet trolls so mean."

Thanks to Jeanine Poggi, Judy Pollack and George Slefo for their roundup suggestions.

Simon Dumenco, aka Media Guy, is an Ad Age editor-at-large. You can follow him on Twitter @simondumenco.

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