Cruz’s take is that CNN could be open to a felony charge.
(a) A person commits the offense of theft by extortion when he unlawfully obtains property of or from another person by threatening to:
(1) Inflict bodily injury on anyone or commit any other criminal offense;
(2) Accuse anyone of a criminal offense;
(3) Disseminate any information tending to subject any person to hatred, contempt, or ridicule or to impair his credit or business repute;
(4) Take or withhold action as a public official or cause an official to take or withhold action;
(5) Bring about or continue a strike, boycott, or other collective unofficial action if the property is not demanded or received for the benefit of the group in whose interest the actor purports to act; or
(6) Testify or provide information or withhold testimony or information with respect to another’s legal claim or defense.
(b) In a prosecution under this Code section, the crime shall be considered as having been committed in the county in which the threat was made or received or in the county in which the property was unlawfully obtained.
(c) It is an affirmative defense to prosecution based on paragraph (2), (3), (4), or (6) of subsection (a) of this Code section that the property obtained by threat of accusation, exposure, legal action, or other invocation of official action was honestly claimed as restitution or indemnification for harm done in the circumstance to which such accusation, exposure, legal action, or other official action relates or as compensation for property or lawful services.
(d) A person convicted of the offense of theft by extortion shall be punished by mprisonment for not less than one nor more than ten years.
The highlighted portions may be of interest to whoever is on Jeff Zuckers “better call Saul” speed dial. CNN would potentially have to show, in defense, that their action as “honestly claimed as restitution or indemnification for harm done.” I’m no lawyer, but I don’t see the harm done by the GIF. CNN’s statement on why they didn’t doxx the GIF’s creator, however, rings of extortion.
Just possibly, Sen. Cruz, unarguably one of the more experienced and respected lawyers in America, might have a point here. So DA Boston, you might want to pay attention to it.