On Monday, federal court documents revealed that the FBI arrested a man who allegedly threatened to kill CNN employees after repeatedly calling the network and accusing it of perpetuating "fake news." According to WXYZ, an ABC affiliate in Detroit, the man had made 22 calls to the network's headquarters in Atlanta between Jan. 9 and 10, 2018. He had allegedly first began calling to accuse the network of creating "fake news," but then the calls began escalating into threats. The arrest affidavit states that four of the 22 calls specifically contained threats.
The alleged threats were violent and suggested the man was considering engaging in fatal violence against CNN employees. Some of the alleged messages he delivered to the network's phone operator included:
Fake news. I'm coming to gun you all down.
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.
I am coming to Georgia right now to go to the CNN headquarters to f*cking gun every single last one of you ... I have a team of people. It's going to be great, man ... You gotta get prepared for this one, buddy.
As reported by WXYZ, an investigator who worked for CNN entered then man's number into a law enforcement database and was able to trace the call after the threats were received. He also called and spoke with the suspect and recorded the call, noting that the voice of the person he called sounded very similar to the one of the person who had made the threats.
The call was traced to surburban Detroit and the FBI ultimately arrested the man, thwarting any potential violence.
This is actually not the first time the suspect in question has allegedly threatened violence against an organization. WXYZ reported that the same suspect also allegedly called the Islamic Center of Ann Arbor back in September of last year and made "derogatory comments relating to the mosque and Muslims." Indeed, the CNN investigator was able to locate the suspect's phone number in the law enforcement database because it was part of the database as a result of his alleged previous threats.
CNN released a statement after news of the man's arrest for making threats against the network emerged, noting that it had taken all measures to ensure the safety of its employees:
We take any threats to CNN employees or workplaces, around the world, extremely seriously. This one is no exception. We have been in touch with local and federal law enforcement throughout, and have taken all necessary measures to ensure the safety of our people.
The man's use of the term "fake news" in his threats against the network has particularly disturbed many on social media. The phrase was popularized by Trump during his campaign and presidency and many social media users find it disconcerting that it has now allegedly been utilized to justify violence against CNN's employees.
Whaddaya know. It matters what presidents say. A week after Trump's fake fake news awards, a man threatens CNN: I'm coming to gun you all down!"
Another social media user admonished Trump for popularizing the phrase, tweeting, "Hey Trump! Words matter!!!!" while referencing the CNN threats.
CNN reported that, on Friday, the suspect in the case was charged in U.S. District Court with "transmitting interstate communications with the intent to extort and threat to injure"; he was released on a $10,000 bond and will return to court next month. He could face a fine or up to five years in prison if he is convicted of the charges against him.