Yeah, CNN threatened to out the guy who made the CNN wrestling meme. But the threat, according to CNN, was just some language that the legal suits stuck into the CNN statement. So if you complain about it, you’re just part of a social-media “mob” that is falsely playing the victim.

That was the argument made on Reliable Sources hosted by CNN’s Brian Stelter. John Avlon of the Daily Beast, a CNN analyst, warned the media not to let the criticism “distract” them from the “real issue”: President Trump’s tweet of the wrestling GIF.

Note: host Brian Stelter dismissed CNN’s threat to out the meme-maker as merely an “awkward sentence.” And as is his wont, Stelter sloughed off the criticism as an “alt-right” reaction. So Vox is now part of the alt-right? Who knew?

Note segundo: While Stelter and Avlon tried to downplay the threatening language as an “awkward sentence” that was foisted on CNN by its legal department, neither denies that CNN was indeed reserving the right to out the meme-maker if he mocked CNN again.

Aside: for a fairly prominent MSM member, Avlon dishes out a very messy word salad.

BRIAN STELTER: That awkward sentence saying that CNN might in the future reserve the right to reveal the identity. It caused the hashtag, #CNNblackmail, to start trending. John Avon, Daily Beast, you had a reporter write about this issue, and about what we saw the alt-right do to criticize CNN for it. What was your assessment of this?

JOHN AVLON: Look, I think what’s, what’s what’s, what’s troubling and fascinating is the way— what Kirsten just expired—explained, which is, you know, an emphasis [?] language added by an editor at the request of legal, all of a sudden got made and turned into a fictitious vision of playing the victim, that is amplified, moral justification, saying that it was a 15-year-old boy.

STELTER: That this anonymous user was a teenager when it was actually a middle-aged man.

AVLON: Very important that that fundamental lie became part of the narrative that created an aura of moral justification for a social media mob frenzy, that was amplified, probably artificially, in part by Vox [Ed.: a Vox reporter called CNN’s threat “extremely unethical”].

It’s part of a larger pattern, which is trying to actually say that, we’re the real victims, we’re going to swarm via social media at the very least with real threats to try to create an aura of confusion, and if it has to be predicated on a fundamenatl lie, to distract from the original issue, which is the President of the United States tweeting out a meme that shows violence against a news outlet, then we’ll do that, and we’ll try to play the victim and get the upper hand. And we’ll use social media swarm tactics to do it.

That’s something new, it’s something dangerous, but it’s something that we need to be very firm about not getting distracted by, because the whole purpose is to distract us from the real issue.