A Michigan man was arrested by federal authorities after he allegedly made phone calls to CNN employees threatening to kill them because they are “fake news.”
“I am on my way right now to gun the fuckin’ CNN cast down,” Brandon Griesemer told a CNN operator over the phone, according to an arrest affidavit unsealed by the FBI on Friday.
It was one of nearly two dozen phone calls placed by Griesemer to CNN on Jan. 9 and 10, according to the affidavit. In one call, a male voice was heard saying he was “coming to gun you all down” because CNN is “fake news.” The calls were placed to CNN’s Atlanta, Georgia, headquarters.
In another call just 30 minutes later, a male voice whispered to an operator: “I’m coming for you, CNN. I’m smarter than you. More powerful than you. I have more guns that you. More manpower. Your cast is about to get gunned down in a matter of hours.”
An investigator working for CNN was quickly able to trace the call back to Greisemer and spoke to him over the phone while recording the conversation. The caller identified himself as “Brandon,” and the investigator said it sounded the same as the voice making threats.
In total, Greisemer made 22 calls to CNN’s Atlanta offices. In the calls, he allegedly made disparaging remarks about black and Jewish individuals.
The suspect’s father told The Washington Post that his son “didn’t mean any of it.”
“He didn’t know what he was saying, the seriousness of it,” the father told the Post on Monday. “We’re not even gun owners or anything like that. We don’t have any, neither does he.”
The suspect’s use of “fake news” was likely taken directly from President Donald Trump, who has emboldened and baited his base into seeing news outlets as enemies of the country. So obsessed Trump is with calling his critics “fake news” that he created a “Fake News Awards” that included a poll to vote on which outlet is the most dishonest. CNN was nominated, as was HuffPost.
On Tuesday, a day after news first broke that a man threatened to kill CNN employees, Trump again tweeted about “Fake News CNN.”
“We take any threats of CNN employees or workplaces, around the world, extremely seriously,” CNN said in a statement. “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.”
Along with his call to CNN, Griesemer previously threatened a mosque over the phone, according to officials. In September of last year, Griesemer called the Islamic Center of Ann Arbor where he “made derogatory comments relating to the mosque and Muslims,” the affidavit says. He later admitted to police he placed the call because he was “angry,” officials said.
Griesemer is facing a charge of interstate communications with intent to extort, threaten or injure. He is currently free on a $10,000 unsecured bond.