After CNN ran an article on Wednesday morning on the reddit user who was allegedly responsible for creating the pro wrestling-themed, anti-CNN GIF that was tweeted by President Trump over the holiday weekend, the tag #CNNBlackmail trended on Twitter and remained a top trend for most of the day.

The hashtag was created amid allegations that Andrew Kaczynski, who runs the network's KFile investigative team, threatened to unmask the identity of the GIF-maker unless an apology was offered.

While Kaczynski responded to "GIF-gate" with a series of tweets refuting any allegations of extortion or coercion, the Wednesday morning CNN article appears to cast doubts on Kaczynski's reasons for not choosing to unmask the Reddit user, who goes by the online moniker HansA**holeSolo.

The original CNN article stated that the network would not publish the GIF-creator's name because he is a "private citizen" who has offered an apology and has promised to never "repeat this ugly behavior" again.

However, the article concluded with an ominous statement that many perceived as a veiled threat-- and a possible violation of state and federal law:

"CNN reserves the right to publish his identity should any of that change.”

Cruz and Assange believe CNN broke the law

Senator Ted Cruz and WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange both issued statements warning the network that its actions come dangerously close to extortion.

"I assume CNN's lawyers are examining GA § 16-8-16 Theft by extortion," wrote Cruz, according to Fox News.

"If CNN constructively obtained the gif maker's IP, it's a GA crime."

Assange tweeted:

"CNN committed a crime, violating 135.60 of the New York criminal code."

Others argued that CNN's actions, while highly unethical, did not rise to the criminal level. Andrew Seaman, from the Society of Professional Journalists’ ethics committee, described CNN’s story as "poorly worded" and “unusual”, but not illegal, in a Wednesday post on the SPJ Ethics Committee blog.

Twitter accused of bailing out CNN

By early evening, the #CNNBlackmail hashtag inexplicably vanished from Twitter's list of trending topics, even though the deluge of tweets using the hashtag showed no signs of slowing.

The mysterious disappearance of the hashtag from the trending topics list led many to wonder if Twitter decided to step in and save CNN from getting pummeled-- much like a rule-breaking wrestler who wallops an opponent over the head with a steel chair to save a tag-team partner while the referee has his back turned.