The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

A Reddit user who wrote about stabbing Muslims is claiming credit for Trump’s CNN video

President Trump renewed his attacks against CNN, which he has repeatedly called "fake news," with a tweet on Christmas Eve. (Video: Jenny Starrs/The Washington Post, Photo: Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post)

The user whose screen name is a vulgar corruption of “Han Solo” spent about a year on Reddit before attaining stardom, courtesy of a share from President Trump.

Some posts were unpopular. “That cat would be in a blender if it did that to me,” for instance. Or recollections of visits to Paris armed with “punch blades,” in case a Muslim needed to be stabbed in the neck.

The user found more success posting on r/The_Donald, an extremely popular Reddit subgroup specializing in the idolization of Trump and the denigration of his imagined enemies — often through the most offensive means possible.

Thus Han‑‑‑‑‑‑‑Solo’s offering on Wednesday: A GIF of Trump pummeling Vince McMahon at a long-ago WrestleMania, with a CNN logo superimposed over McMahon’s face.

“Trump takes down fake news,” it was titled.

Trump’s meme brigade took over Reddit. Now Reddit is trying to stop them.

It did fine. A few thousand votes. Nothing special by r/The_Donald’s standard.

Until 9:21 a.m. Sunday, that is, when Trump tweeted a tweaked version of the clip, and made history on r/The_Donald.

Han‑‑‑‑‑‑‑Solo: “Holy s—!! I wake up and have my morning coffee and who retweets my s—post but the MAGA EMPORER himself!!! I am honored!!”

Joy echoed across r/The_Donald, which a day earlier had been more interested in conspiracy theories about the Clintons killing people and stick-figure drawings of Californians embarrassing themselves.

“TWEETED by the PRESIDENT,” one of many admirers wrote. “Now it’s confirmed that Trump sees our memes.”

“We all wish for such validation.”

“You are now a legend!!”

Wondered SnugMeatSocks: “Did you ever think one of your memes would go into the Library of Congress?”

Which isn’t far from the truth. The National Archives has advised the White House to save all the president’s tweets — from the indecipherable “covfefe” to “she was bleeding badly from a face-lift,” which was in the running as one of Trump’s most offensive tweets before his pummeling video drew condemnation from lawmakers and journalists on Sunday.

As is often the case on the Internet, the meme’s repercussions are easier to pin down than its origins.

The Washington Post couldn’t find any version of the CNN-pummeling clip before Han——-Solo’s post last week. And the user took credit for it, while noting that someone added sound and made other alterations to the version Trump tweeted.

A live stream of Shia LaBeouf chanting was disrupted by Nazi-themed dancing. Then things got weird.

That said, a similar clip with an identical title — but no CNN logo — appeared weeks earlier on an obscure Twitter feed.

But it almost doesn’t matter where the meme really came from. On r/The_Donald, where dubious claims have long mixed with reality, Trump’s endorsement of a homegrown GIF is now accepted as canon and lore.

“You know he saw it, chuckled, and knew he could control the media narrative for days by hitting the ‘post’ button,” wrote American_Crusader. “So he did.”

“If we could give him that, imagine what else we could provide the God-Emperor in Chief with?” a moderator for the group added.

This isn’t the first time r/The_Donald has praised itself for getting inside the gears of a system its users claim to hate.

Reddit will limit the reach of a pro-Trump board and crack down on its ‘most toxic users’

As Abby Ohlheiser noted for The Post, users took credit when Reddit tweaked its algorithm last year, trying to stop subgroups from mass-voting their posts onto the site’s front page — a favorite tactic on r/The_Donald.

When those posts aren’t about GIFs endorsed by the president, they’re often insults against liberals, with frequent forays into conspiracy theories and intentionally offensive memes.

Take the now-debunked story that a Democratic National Committee staff member was killed because he leaked party emails. “The_Donald’s front page was flooded with threads promoting the Seth Rich story as users claimed that the website’s administrators were intentionally downvoting the story,” the Daily Dot wrote in May.

Han‑‑‑‑‑‑‑Solo appears to be part of that campaign, posting a conspiratorial meme about Rich on r/The_Donald in May.

But the user is prolific, posting multiple times a day, and frequently ranging into other groups.

“It’s all part of United’s Remove A [n-word] Over The Ocean program” the user wrote on a “dark humor” board two months ago, beneath a photo of a black child on an airplane.

The comment got nearly 300 votes. That was before Han‑‑‑‑‑‑‑Solo’s portfolio could claim an endorsement from the president.

An earlier version of this story incorrectly said the Reddit user’s n-word comment got nearly 22,000 votes. Those were votes for the original post; not the comment, which got nearly 300 votes.

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