"This is what happens when the president of the United States, Donald Trump, repeatedly attacks members of the press."

Having previously been the target of death threats — there’s an open investigation at the NYPD right now regarding one case — CNN’s Don Lemon spoke with emotion Tuesday night as he addressed Donald Trump following news that a bigoted Michigan man had been arrested for calling in new death threats to CNN last week.

The man in custody specifically mimicked Trump’s rhetoric in his threats to kill CNN staffers. “Fake news,” he said in one of several phone calls. “I’m coming to gun you all down.”

“There’s nothing random about this. Nothing,” Lemon warned. “This is what happens when the president of the United States, Donald Trump, repeatedly attacks members of the press simply for reporting facts he does not like.”

Trump has tweeted the term “fake news” at least 50 times since his inauguration in 2017, often directed specifically at CNN. In fact, he tweeted about “Crazy Jim Acosta of Fake News CNN” on Tuesday, just a day after the story of the threats against the network broke.

“We are not the enemy. We are not trying to silence you,” Lemon said, directly addressing Trump. “It is the job of the free press to report the facts, to ask questions — tough questions, ones you don’t like. No matter how many times you attack us as ‘fake news,’ we will continue to do our jobs.”

“If one of us is hurt, or, God forbid, something else in some way or another, either because you don’t understand the power of your words and/or you don’t care, it won’t be a fake injury or a fake death,” Lemon stressed. “It’ll be real. How will you answer those questions then? Not only from journalists, but from our loved ones, because you’re going to have to do it.”

Brandon Griesemer of Novi, Michigan, was recently arrested after he made “made approximately 22 total calls to CNN” on Jan. 9 and 10, threatening its employees, according to an arrest affidavit that was release.

“Fake news. I’m coming to gun you all down,” Griesemer said during one call to the network’s Atlanta headquarters. In another call, he said, “I am on my way right now to gun the f???in’ CNN cast down. F??? you.”

His threats also contained epithets against African-Americans and Jews. He was charged “with transmitting interstate communications with the intent to extort and threat to injure.”

Yet even after Griesemer was arrested, Trump continued to Tweet dangerous, anti-CNN rhetoric.

The paranoid right has a confirmed history in this country of absorbing hateful rhetoric and turning that rhetoric into action.

In 2010, after listening to Glenn Beck weave wild conspiracy theories about the little-known liberal Tides Foundation, Byron Williams jumped in his truck, laced up his body armor, and drove up the California coast to San Francisco to shoot up the organization’s headquarters and spark a political revolution.

His planned domestic terrorist attack never came to pass because California Highway Patrol officers pulled Williams over for drunk driving on his way to his killing spree. Williams quickly opened fire, wounding two officers during a lengthy shootout.

It was bad enough when we had Fox News hosts like Beck inspiring would-be political killers. Now the president of the United States does it.


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