The Slatest

CNN’s Brian Stelter Airs C-SPAN Caller Threatening to Shoot Him and Don Lemon

Brian Stelter works in a nearly empty media filing center on September 24, 2014, at Hofstra University in Hempstead, New York.
Brian Stelter works in a nearly empty media filing center on September 24, 2014, at Hofstra University in Hempstead, New York.
PAUL J. RICHARDS/Getty Images

Many have been sounding the alarm that the increasingly heated rhetoric coming from President Donald Trump against the media could spark violence against journalists. New York Times publisher A.G. Sulzberger warned the president of that to his face in a White House meeting. But the commander in chief doesn’t seem to care. Sunday morning, Trump sent out a tweet calling the media “dangerous & sick” and said journalists “can also cause war.”

Shortly after Trump posted that tweet, CNN’s Brian Stelter aired a clip from C-SPAN in which a caller threatened to shoot both Stelter and his CNN colleague Don Lemon. Trump has long criticized Lemon and even sent out a tweet against him Friday night.

In the video, the C-SPAN caller identifies himself as “Don” and says Stelter and Lemon “call Trump supporters all racists. They don’t even know us.” Stelter denied that was the case. “They don’t even know these Americans out here and they are calling us racists because we voted for Trump?” the caller went on to say. “Come on. Give me a break. They started the war. I see them, I’m going to shoot them.”

Stelter said that these types of calls and threats are “coming in more often” even as he acknowledged some in the media get much worse, and frequent, threats. “I’m not asking for sympathy, I don’t think I’m in extreme danger, I know some of my colleagues get much worse threats than I do,” Stelter said. “CNN has a great security team and we know how to handle this stuff.”

Stelter also aired a clip of MSNBC’s Katy Tur saying she and some of her female colleagues had received emails saying, “I hope you get raped and killed.” The “most recent note” she received ended with four letters: MAGA.

On Friday, New York Times columnist Bret Stephens quoted a voicemail he had received recently: “I don’t carry an AR but once we start shooting you f—ers you aren’t going to pop off like you do now. You’re worthless, the press is the enemy of the United States people and, you know what, rather than me shoot you, I hope a Mexican and, even better yet, I hope a n— shoots you in the head, dead.” Stephens’ conclusion? “We are approaching a day when blood on the newsroom floor will be blood on the president’s hands.”