There wasn't much anyone following the story of 49-year-old Texas programmer Michael Brutsch, whom we revealed to be behind the notorious Reddit troll Violentacrez, could realistically have hoped to learn about the man from his appearance on Anderson Cooper's CNN show tonight. We already knew he is an unabashed creep who has now lost his job thanks to his predilection for posting pictures of underage girls in their underwear and spouting virulent racism on the social news site Reddit. There was a near-zero percent chance of some emotional breakdown or heartfelt confession that might make Brutsch seem to be sorry for anything but being caught. He'd put too much into Violentacrez over too many years for that.
And when asked if he was sorry for his long career of trolling by CNN reporter Drew Griffin (who conducted the entire interview with a disgusted grimace on his face like he wished he were encased in a biohazard suit) Brutsch admitted he'd "made mistakes," but offered this non-apology:
I am to some degree apologizing for what I did. I was playing to an audience of college kids. Two years ago when all of this was at its height, the audience was appreciative and supportive of the sort of gallows humor that I put out there. Honestly the biggest thrill I got were those meaningless internet points.
What was most remarkable about the interview was Brutsch's calm detachment as he offered insight into why he trolled. He explained that he thought of the subreddits he created, like Jailbait, the popular section dedicated to sharing borderline child porn, "Chokabitch" and "picsofdeadbabies" as "folders" where he stored images as he came across them on the internet. He created them with the sole purpose of enraging other users. "I treated Reddit as a game," he said.
Throughout the interview, Brutsch pinned much of the blame on the staff and community of Reddit, many of whose most prominent users have leapt vigorously to his defense. He said that Reddit "encouraged and enabled this sort of behavior and I shouldn't have been apart of that." On one hand this is an obvious deflection tactic; Brutsch clearly delighted in every outrage. "It had a reward," he said of his trolling. "It's addictive." He has since admitted, on Reddit, that he has nobody to blame for what's happened to him except himself. On the other hand, Brutsch proudly showed Griffin a gold-plated Reddit Alien bobblehead he was given by Reddit "for making significant contributions to the site." Reddit told CNN in a statement that it "regrets having sent the trophy."
But now, Brutsch told CNN, his life is ruined. "I anticipate it will get much worse. I can't see it getting much better. I've lost my job, I'm going to lose my home, my health insurance is gone my wife is disabled."