Cruz: CNN may have broken law with threat to reveal Reddit user's identity

Sen. Ted CruzRafael (Ted) Edward CruzDebbie Wasserman Schultz marks 10 years as breast cancer survivor Foreign agent registration is no magical shield against Russian propaganda Let Trump be Trump and he'll sail through 2020 MORE (R-Texas) said CNN may be guilty of extortion by allegedly threatening to publish the identity of a man who made a parody video showing President TrumpDonald John TrumpHouse Democrat slams Donald Trump Jr. for ‘serious case of amnesia’ after testimony Skier Lindsey Vonn: I don’t want to represent Trump at Olympics Poll: 4 in 10 Republicans think senior Trump advisers had improper dealings with Russia MORE "wrestling" with the cable news network. 

"Troubling. I assume CNN's lawyers are examining GA § 16-8-16 Theft by extortion," Cruz wrote. "If CNN constructively obtained the gif-maker's IP it's a GA crime if they threatened to 'Disseminate any information tending to subject any person to hatred, contempt, or ridicule.'"
"GA" is the state code for Georgia. CNN is headquartered in Atlanta. 
 
ADVERTISEMENT
 
CNN is facing backlash after tracking down the creator of a video of Trump tackling a man with a CNN logo superimposed over his head. In an online story, the news network appeared to suggest it would reveal the person's identity if he engaged in "ugly behavior" on social media again.

"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," the story, titled "How CNN found the Reddit user behind the Trump wrestling GIF," reads on CNN.com

"CNN reserves the right to publish his identity should any of that change," it adds.

The blowback on social media against CNN resulted in #CNNBlackmail trending most of Monday on Twitter.
 
CNN in a statement to BuzzFeed said it decided not to publish the Reddit user’s name out of concern for his safety.

“Any assertion that the network blackmailed or coerced him is false,” it said.

“The user, who is an adult male, not a 15-year-old boy, apologized and deleted his account before ever speaking with our reporter. CNN never made any deal, of any kind, with the user,” it added. Donald Trump Jr. had suggested the Reddit user was a 15-year-old.
 
“In fact, CNN included its decision to withhold the user’s identity in an effort to be completely transparent that there was no deal," CNN's statement read.
 
Cruz is a former adjunct professor at the University of Texas School of Law, where he taught Supreme Court litigation. He also once served as the state's solicitor general.