We Are Outraged Over the Outrage About the Outrage

I don’t know. No matter what we say, maybe we all like having a reality-TV president:

What’s this all about? Well, you remember the dumb video that Donald Trump posted on Sunday? The one where he’s body slamming a wrestler whose head has been replaced by the CNN logo? We all decided to get outraged over that. This was dumbness level 1.

Then we tracked down the origin of the video. It came from someone named HanAssholeSolo on the alt-right reddit sewer r/The_Donald. It turned out that Han had also posted some inane anti-semitic memes, so we all decided to get outraged over that. This was dumbness level 2.

Then CNN tracked down the actual person behind HanAssholeSolo. Unsurprisingly, it turned out to be some dude who had been acting out and was terrified at the prospect of becoming national news just because our president was stupid enough to retweet his stuff. So CNN decided not to publish his 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.”

However, CNN also said it “reserves the right to publish his identity should any of that change.” This sounded like a threat, so we all decided to get outraged over that. This was dumbness level 3.

Is there anything we won’t use as an excuse to get outraged? Trump’s tweet was puerile, but it was just a joke, not a call to violence. HanAssholeSolo is an idiot, but he’s just one of millions of individual idiots, not someone with any power or influence unless we give it to him. And under anything but the most hostile reading, CNN obviously wasn’t threatening anyone. They were just covering themselves: If it turned out that Han was playing them, they were under no obligation to maintain his anonymity.

Not that it matters. If CNN can track this guy down, so can someone else. He’ll be viral on Twitter before long no matter how abjectly he’s apologized.

DOES IT FEEL LIKE POLITICS IS AT A BREAKING POINT?

Headshot of Editor in Chief of Mother Jones, Clara Jeffery

It sure feels that way to me, and here at Mother Jones, we’ve been thinking a lot about what journalism needs to do differently, and how we can have the biggest impact.

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We aim to hire, build a team, and give them the time and space needed to understand how we got here and how we might get out. We want to dig into the forces and decisions that have allowed massive conflicts of interest, influence peddling, and win-at-all-costs politics to flourish.

It's unlike anything we've done, and we have seed funding to get started, but we're looking to raise $500,000 from readers by July when we'll be making key budgeting decisions—and the more resources we have by then, the deeper we can dig. If our plan sounds good to you, please help kickstart it with a tax-deductible donation today.

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Signed by Clara Jeffery

Clara Jeffery, Editor-in-Chief

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