On Monday, an Atlanta TV station broke news that a man faces up to two decades in prison for allegedly threatening to murder CNN employees.
According to court documents, the man — a 19-year-old from Novi, Michigan named Brandon Griesemer — allegedly made more than 20 calls to CNN over a two day period about a week ago. During one of them, Griesemer told a CNN operator that the network is “fake news.” In others, he made racist, homophobic, and anti-Semitic comments. On another occasion Griesemer said, “Fake news. I’m coming to gun you all down. F*** you, f***ing n*****s.”
Griesemer was arrested after an investigation traced the call back to a house he shares with his parents. Heavy.com published pictures from Facebook indicating that Griesemer is white. Griesemer has also been linked with threatening calls made to an Islamic center in Michigan last year.
President Trump has popularized the use of “fake news” to dismiss reports and media outlets he doesn’t like. One of his frequent targets has been CNN. During his first news conference as president last February, Trump slammed CNN reporter Jim Acosta as “very fake news.” Last month, he devoted an entire tweet to attacking “Fake News CNN.”
CNN’S slogan is CNN, THE MOST TRUSTED NAME IN NEWS. Everyone knows this is not true, that this could, in fact, be a fraud on the American Public. There are many outlets that are far more trusted than Fake News CNN. Their slogan should be CNN, THE LEAST TRUSTED NAME IN NEWS!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 9, 2017
Trump’s attacks on CNN have sometimes used violent imagery. Last summer, tweeted a video clip of him physically attacking a man who had a CNN logo superimposed over his head.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 2, 2017
Weeks later, Trump retweeted an image of “the Trump train” striking a CNN journalist. On Christmas Eve, Trump retweeted a photoshopped image of him with a blood stain on his shoe that has the CNN logo on it.
Beyond dangers they pose to CNN employees and their families, Trump’s attacks on the network represent an attack on press freedoms both at home and abroad. But instead of reconsidering his approach, Trump continued to attack CNN on Friday morning.
Even Crazy Jim Acosta of Fake News CNN agrees: “Trump World and WH sources dancing in end zone: Trump wins again…Schumer and Dems caved…gambled and lost.” Thank you for your honesty Jim!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 23, 2018
It’s not just Trump — other Trump administration officials regularly dismiss reporting they don’t like as “fake news.” On Friday morning, Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders wrapped up an interview on Fox & Friends by attacking the “fake news” and by joking about which magazines are used as coasters at the White House.
UPDATE (1/23, 11:28AM): “Griesemer is currently free on a $10,000 unsecured bond.”