Death threats over ‘fake news’

A man in the US has been arrested in the US, alleged of making death threats against employees of CNN – “Fake news! I’m coming to gun you all down.”

Donald Trump has been blamed for contributing to attacks against media generally and CNN in particular, but this appears to be an isolated albeit extreme reaction against media.

ABC News: Michigan man charged with threatening to kill CNN employees

A Michigan man is facing charges after he allegedly made threatening calls to CNN’s Atlanta headquarters, telling workers that he would come “to gun you all down,” according to court documents obtained by ABC News on Monday.

Authorities said the suspect, identified as Brandon Griesemer of Novi, Michigan, made at least 22 phone calls to the news network’s publicly listed telephone number on Jan. 9 and 10, making derogatory comments, death threats and accusing it of spewing “fake news,” according to an FBI affidavit.

Griesemer is accused of violating federal extortion and interstate communications rules.

“You are going down. I have a gun and I am coming to Georgia right now to go to the CNN headquarters to f—-ing gun every single last one of you,” the caller said on one of the occasions, according to the affidavit. “I have a team of people. It’s going to be great, man. … You gotta get prepared for this one, buddy.”

“Fake news! I’m coming to gun you all down,” the caller said in another instance.

The caller also made derogatory comments toward Jewish people and referred to CNN employees by the n-word, according to the affidavit.

Federal investigators said they traced the calls to a mobile phone belonging to Griesemer.

The same mobile number was connected to a call made to an Islamic center in September, when a man made derogatory comments relating to mosques and Muslims, investigators said. Griesemer admitted to calling the center on Sept. 19, telling police that he was angry at the time of the call.

An affidavit obtained by CNN the arrested man has more detail:

“Fake news. I’m coming to gun you all down,” and “I am on my way right now to gun the f****** CNN cast down …. I am coming to kill you.”

“I’m smarter than you. More powerful than you. I have more guns than you. More manpower. Your cast is about to get gunned down in a matter of hours.”

His degree of smartness is debatable.

Inevitably, Trump’s rhetoric aimed at media has been linked.

CNN contributor Ana Navarro connected the threats to anti-media comments made by President Donald Trump, who has often referred to members of the media as “fake news.” He also came under fire last year after he tweeted an edited video of him wrestling a man with a CNN logo over his face.

“This is why Trump’s words and tweets, and his memes showing violence against the press, matter,” Navarro said in a tweet Monday night, referring to the Griesemer case.

CNN Host Don Lemon also took aim at Trump:

Washington Post: CNN’s Don Lemon says Trump rhetoric responsible for threats against network

“I’ve heard from a number of very credible sources from within the White House that you watch this show,” Lemon said. “So, Mr. President, I’m going to speak directly to you.”

“The caller who threatened to kill CNN employees made his threat using these words: ‘Fake news. I’m coming to gun you all down,’” said Lemon. He then paused before reflecting: “Fake news. I wonder where he got those words.”

The Washington Post’s Kyle Swenson wrote,

“The term, trumpeted by the president in his frequent clashes with the press, has become a popular rallying cry among Trump’s base. CNN has been a regular target of the president’s ‘fake news’ attacks; the president has also shared violent images featuring the cable news giant, including pictures of the CNN logo crushed under a shoe and a GIF of the president personally attacking the CNN logo.”

On the other side of the US media mess John Nolte at Breitbart blames CNN and justifies the threats in  CNN’s Climate of Hate Comes Home to Roost.

Accusing other media of a ‘climate of hate’ is ironic given Breitbart’s record of promoting division and stoking hate.

For nearly five years, going all the way back to the Trayvon Martin uproar, Breitbart News has aggressively documented CNN’s devolution into a 24/7 hate network. This week, CNN’s climate of hate finally came home to roost when a Michigan man, provoked by CNN’s fake news crisis, allegedly made death threats against the far-left network.

CNN chief Jeff Zucker has not only driven his network into last place (by a wide margin behind MSNBC and Fox) and turned it into a national laughingstock, he has used the network as a propaganda weapon to foment violence against police officers, his political enemies on the right, and President Trump. In furtherance of Zucker’s Cloward-Piven political strategy, CNN has also sought to gin up race riots in predominantly black neighborhoods.

CNN’s embarrassing ratings and well-documented fake news crisis are the least of the embattled network’s sins. More than anything else, it is CNN’s indecent and unceasing validation of political violence that is the most disturbing and dangerous.

More irony given Nolte’s attempt at validating threats of violence against CNN employees.

Thus far, CNN’s ever-increasing climate of hate has only brought misery, fear, and violence to others — to CNN’s intended victims on the political right. Last week, however, CNN got its own taste of that misery and fear.

Maybe now that CNN has provoked threats of violence against itself, Zucker and his on-air surrogates will ease up a bit on the belligerent trolling and provocations in order to adapt a New Tone that includes tolerance of outside ideas and a focus on integrity, facts, and honesty — as opposed to the fire hose of fake news.

So far, though, these death threats appear to have only emboldened CNN to spread even more provocative fake news against Trump — which is unfortunate.  The idea that CNN is willing to play with fire when no one wants to see anyone over there get hurt is, to say the least, a disturbing spectacle.

This all gives an impression of a severely dysfunctional media in the US. There is no doubt that Trump has stirred up anti-media sentiments. It’s debatable whether he can be blamed for the actions of an individual, but it’s quite possible he has contributed to the boldness of threats.

At a time of escalation in media madness like this a good leader might step up with some calming words, and make it clear that attacks on the media are in effect attacks on democracy. But that would mean Trump would need to calm his own attacks, and that’s unlikely to happen.

Trump versus CNN

President Trump has continued in his praise of Fox News and his condemnation of CNN, via Twitter of course, and just after his Justice department filed a lawsuit to block AT&T’s merger with Time Warner, which owns CNN.

Huffington Post: Fox News Is ‘Much More Important’ Than CNN, Trump Tweets

Donald Trump’s favorite news network is “much more important” than the often critical CNN, the president tweeted Saturday.

Just days earlier, Trump’s Justice Department filed a contentious lawsuit to block AT&T’s purchase of CNN’s parent company, Time Warner. The action raised concerns that the federal government is trying to silence CNN’s critical coverage of the president, rather than fears about a powerful media monopoly.

The tweet, and a response from CNN:

In a meeting before the lawsuit was filed, sources told The New York Times that the Justice Department had warned AT&T that either CNN’s parent, Turner Broadcasting, or DirecTV would have to be sold before the federal government would allow the planned $85.4 billion merger. CEO Stephenson has said he has no interest in selling CNN.

Earlier this year, Trump adviser and son-in-law Jared Kushner met with Time Warner executive Gary Ginsberg and said that 20 percent of the CNN staff should be fired because they were so “wrong” about the Trump campaign, sources told The Wall Street Journal. A White House official said the comments were not intended to be taken seriously, but they rattled Time Warner, the Journal reported.

The Justice Department says it is taking legal action because the combination of AT&T and Time Warner would create one of the biggest media monopolies in American history.

Jake Tapper noted that the timing of Trump’s tweet about CNN coincided with Russian President Vladimir Putin’s signing of a law that allows American media outlets in Russia to be registered as “foreign agents.” The law is in retaliation for the U.S. government’s request that the American office of the Russian TV network RT be registered as a foreign agent.

Norm Eisen, ethics chief for the Obama White House:

Friends of Trump:

Trump depicts violence against CNN

Donald Trump’s feud against media has raised to a bizarre level with yet another tweet:

That’s appalling.

There’s certainly plenty to find fault in the media – the media that played a large part in enabling Trump’s election victory, initially by giving him an extraordinary amount of free publicity, and then when they woke up to the possibility of a Trump success by effectively campaigning against him, which helped his campaign.

But should be growing concerns over Trump’s attacks on the media – especially when they depict violence like this.

He isn’t attacking all media – Fox News seems to still be on his side in his battle. Like this:

CNN have responded to Trump’s tweet:

 

Kathy Griffin way over the line

As has been discussed here yesterday, the photo of Kathy Griffin with a bloodied Trump mask was way over the line of decency and acceptability.

President Donald Trump:

Yes, it was a shameful thing for Griffiths to do.

First Lady Melania Trump:

I agree that it was a disturbing photo, but questioning the mental health of Griffiths is going too far. It was certainly a stupid thing to do, but it may be no more than poorly considered attention seeking.

Of course Griffin had the right of free speech and expression, but that doesn’t rule out consequences.

An over reaction, or fair enough?

CNN response to Trump ‘fake news’ accusations

In his first media conference as president-elect Donald Trump slammed CNN for publishing ‘fake news’ and refused to answer questions from a CNN reporter.

Trump had earlier tweeted:

CNN have responded:

Also at CNN’s response to Trump’s accusations of false reporting

Meanwhile from the BBC:

 

US mess gets murkier

Claims have surfaced that Donald Trump has potentially been compromised by Russians. These are unverified, and not surprisingly Trump  tweeted “FAKE NEWS – A TOTAL POLITICAL WITCH HUNT!”

CNN broke this story: Intel chiefs presented Trump with claims of Russian efforts to compromise him

Classified documents presented last week to President Obama and President-elect Trump included allegations that Russian operatives claim to have compromising personal and financial information about Mr. Trump, multiple US officials with direct knowledge of the briefings tell CNN.

The allegations were presented in a two-page synopsis that was appended to a report on Russian interference in the 2016 election.

The FBI is investigating the credibility and accuracy of these allegations, which are based primarily on information from Russian sources, but has not confirmed many essential details in the memos about Mr. Trump.

One reason the nation’s intelligence chiefs took the extraordinary step of including the synopsis in the briefing documents was to make the President-elect aware that such allegations involving him are circulating among intelligence agencies, senior members of Congress and other government officials in Washington, multiple sources tell CNN.

These senior intelligence officials also included the synopsis to demonstrate that Russia had compiled information potentially harmful to both political parties, but only released information damaging to Hillary Clinton and Democrats. This synopsis was not an official part of the report from the intelligence community case about Russian hacks, but some officials said it augmented the evidence that Moscow intended to harm Clinton’s candidacy and help Trump’s, several officials with knowledge of the briefings tell CNN.

The two-page synopsis also included allegations that there was a continuing exchange of information during the campaign between Trump surrogates and intermediaries for the Russian government, according to two national security officials.

The raw memos on which the synopsis is based were prepared by the former MI6 agent, who was posted in Russia in the 1990s and now runs a private intelligence gathering firm.

His investigations related to Mr. Trump were initially funded by groups and donors supporting Republican opponents of Mr. Trump during the GOP primaries, multiple sources confirmed to CNN. Those sources also said that once Mr. Trump became the nominee, further investigation was funded by groups and donors supporting Hillary Clinton.

Spokespeople for the FBI and the Director of National Intelligence declined to comment. Officials who spoke to CNN declined to do so on the record given the classified nature of the material.

Some of the allegations were first reported publicly in Mother Jones one week before the election.

New York Times: Trump Received Unsubstantiated Report That Russia Had Damaging Information About Him

The memos suggest that for many years, the Russian government of Mr. Putin has looked for ways to influence Mr. Trump, who has traveled repeatedly to Moscow to investigate real estate deals or to oversee the Miss Universe competition, which he owned for several years. Mr. Trump never completed any major deals in Russia, though he discussed them for years.

The memos describe sex videos involving prostitutes with Mr. Trump in a 2013 visit to a Moscow hotel. The videos were supposedly prepared as “kompromat,” or compromising material, with the possible goal of blackmailing Mr. Trump in the future.

The memos also suggest that Russian officials proposed various lucrative deals, essentially as disguised bribes in order to win influence over Mr. Trump.

The memos describe several purported meetings during the 2016 presidential campaign between Trump representatives and Russian officials to discuss matters of mutual interest, including the Russian hacking of the Democratic National Committee and Mrs. Clinton’s campaign chairman, John D. Podesta.

This is all unverified.

The former British intelligence officer who gathered the material about Mr. Trump is considered a competent and reliable operative with extensive experience in Russia, American officials said. But he passed on what he heard from Russian informants and others, and what they told him has not yet been vetted by American intelligence.

Whatever the Russians have done deliberately or inadvertently, they appear to have played a significant role in the election, and what is emerging is highly embarrassing to the United States.

It has become a murky mess, and it’s quite likely to get worse.

Journalists or political activists?

This wee exchange on Twitter is a bit concerning.

O’Donnell is host of  on MSNBC.

Retweeted by Tim Murphy (New Zealand journalist):

Brian Stelter Retweeted Lawrence O’Donnell

Addendum to this: Journalists will be asked, and will ask themselves, “Are you proud of the way you covered Trump?”

Stelter is CNN’s host of and senior media correspondent. Formerly , and Top of the Morning

I’m not a fan of Trump at all and have serious concerns about what him as US President would mean to the world.

But the implication I get from this is that journalists should be actively trying to influence the presidential election. That also seriously concerns me.

At least Trump is getting democratic support and will be chosen (or not) by democratic vote.

Journalists should be giving unbiased accounts of the democratic process, and they should not be trying to manipulate and influence it in one direction.

If journalists want to be proud of defeating Trump they should become political activists and stop pretending to be journalists.

Or are the admitting the created a Trump monster through biased favourable coverage that enabled Trump’s rise?

Trump has big lead in CNN poll

Donald Trump has a big lead in the latest CNN poll for Republican presidential nominee, with 39% compared to the next highest, Ted Cruz on 18% and then Ben Carson and Marco Rubio on 10% each.

CNNRepublicanPollDec15

Trump is probably getting far more than 39% of the media coverage.

Based on the same sample of Republican or Republican leaning voters Trump was even further ahead on “best able to handle” questions.

Regardless of who you are voting for, which Republican candidate do you think can best handle…

  • The economy – Trump 57%, Cruz 8%
  • Illegal immigration – Trump 55%, Cruz 15%
  • ISIS – trump 47%, Cruz 21%

Trump fans will be very pleased with this but many will despair at what US politics has become, on the right at least.

A big unknown is what will happen when the field narrows – will the not-Trump preferences accumulate for the remaining candidates? Another poll question may give some insight.

Do you think Republicans have a better chance of winning the presidency in 2016 if Donald Trump is the party’s nominee or do they have a better chance of winning with someone else as the party’s nominee?

  • Better chance with Donald Trump 46% (up 8 from August)
  • Better chance with someone else 50% (down 8)
  • No opinion 4%

There’s other interesting poll results: http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2015/images/12/22/cnnpoll.pdf