Outed Reddit troll Michael Brutsch sat down with CNN to talk about how the fallout has impacted his life in a segment that aired on Anderson Cooper 360 Thursday.
Brutsch lost his job over the weekend after Gawker’s Adrian Chen outed him as Reddit’s most notorious troll.
In the interview, Brutsch, sporting an unkempt goatee, (sort of) apologizes for creating subforums dedicated to a variety of distasteful and inflammatory topics including rape jokes, dead children, and incest. The Arlington resident said he created the offensive Reddits “to outrage people.”
“All I can say is I’m sorry, I have made mistakes, I understand that Reddit encouraged and enabled this sort of behavior and I shouldn’t have been a part of it,” Brutsch told CNN’s Drew Griffin, who interviewed him in a Fort Worth hotel room. “I treated Reddit like a game, apparently I have a gift for pushing buttons.”
But he later rowed back his apology a bit: “I am to some degree apologizing for what I did,” he said, but only did it because “the audience was appreciative and supportive of the sort of gallows humor that I put out there.” (We would quibble with his definition of gallows humor):
How did Brutsch fall down this particular rabbit hole? Let him explain:
I started off posting lots of porn, mostly softcore porn, pictures of naked girls, that sort of thing. As I’d find porn of different types, like, if it was a picture of an African American woman I created a Reddit called “Women of Color,” if it was a woman with large breasts I created a Reddit called “Boobies.” I saw it as creating folders to file things in, I created around 600 Reddits, or subforums, in the time I was on Reddit. I just put things, as I came across images, I just put them in these categories.
Anderson Cooper, for his part, had harsh words for Brutsch, calling him a “little person” and opining that he mostly seemed sorry he got caught: “I’m fascinated though by this high opinion he has of himself, saying he has a gift for pushing buttons. I mean he’s a guy sitting in his lonely little room, typing on a keyboard and interacting with people he doesn’t even know,” Cooper said.
Salon’s Mary Elizabeth Williams watched the interview and was disgusted by Brutsch, the self-described “creepy uncle of Reddit,” but doesn’t let the community off the hook, either:
Brutsch is a grown-ass man who has made his own choices, choices that creatures with opposable thumbs would generally find repugnant. Yet when he showed off the gold-plated Reddit bobblehead award he received “for making significant contributions to the site,” he was offering very real evidence that in addition to being a singular, walking piece of vomit, he’s also undeniably a bro in a community of fellow dirtbags. He existed, and thrived, because he had the encouragement to do so.