A video tweeted by CNN on Wednesday has been making the rounds, in which the network’s special investigations unit reporter Drew Griffin harasses an elderly Florida woman in for supposedly being “influenced by Kremlin-linked trolls.”
In the segment, which initially aired on Tuesday, the reporter grilled the woman about her pro-Trump Facebook page, which he alleged was disseminating Russian propaganda:
"Being Patriotic" was the group that contacted and helped organize some of these activities that you posted on your own Facebook account... Those were Russians.
“Those were legitimate,” the woman protested, to which the reporter shot back, “That group was Russian.” He went on to assert that the people following her page were “all apparently following the direction” of Russian social media trolls.
A Florida woman who ran a Trump supporters page that unwittingly promoted a Russian-coordinated event on Facebook says she doesn’t believe that she was influenced by Kremlin-linked trolls https://t.co/fhcT0MyxUA pic.twitter.com/dOG3xXFpTw— CNN (@CNN) February 21, 2018
The woman eventually grew fed up and walked into her house. As the segment ended, the reporter glanced pityingly at the camera and remarked, “Well, there you go.” Ironically, this segment was recorded after it had already been reported that CNN themselves had adoringly covered a number of anti-Trump events that also turned out to have been coordinated by Russians.
In a display of incredibly poor judgment, CNN included the woman’s full name in their initial reporting. One might suspect that a network so concerned about social media trolls could have anticipated what its viewers would do with this woman's personal information: they harassed her.
This incident isn’t the first time overzealous CNN reporters have tried to pass off invasive and aggressive behavior as investigative journalism. In July of 2017, the network aired a self-congratulatory segment in which K-File host Andrew Kaczynski explained how he’d tracked down a Reddit user who had posted a video mocking CNN online (which President Trump later tweeted). The user eventually apologized, after which the network published the following menacing statement, interpreted by some as a threat:
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.
…CNN reserves the right to publish his identity should any of that change.