And the FAKE NEWS winners are...https://t.co/59G6x2f7fD— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 18, 2018
Media organizations mostly made light of the tweet. However, it's all fun and games until it's not.
A recent incident involving CNN's office in Atlanta, Georgia, just demonstrated the - potentially fatal - dangers of the president's "fake news" rhetoric.
CNN reports a Michigan man allegedly called the channel several times, threatening to kill employees at its Atlanta, Georgia, headquarters.
The man, identified as Brandon Griesemer, has now been arrested. He made "22 calls to CNN on January 9 and January 10 and four calls, which were recorded, contained threats," according to the affidavit cited in the report.
"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 reportedly said. "I have a team of people. It's going to be great, man...You gotta get prepared for this one, buddy."
Griesemer also made derogatory comments about Jewish people and African-Americans.
The phone calls were eventually traced and Griesemer was taken into custody. He was charged with transmitting interstate communications with the intent to extort and threat to injure and later released on a $10,000 bond.
It is important to note here the incident comes only a month after President Trump, who has infamously called CNN "fake news" multiple times over the course of three years, retweeted an image showing a bloodied logo of the channel squashed under his shoe. Also, last July, he drew fire after sharing a doctored video of himself slamming a man whose head had been superimposed with a CNN logo.
Many believe Griesemer's actions, specifically his usage of the term "fake news" for CNN, were fueled by Trump's consistent endorsement of violence against journalists.
Deliberate attacks on press, such as "Fake News" & "Enemy of the people," helps dehumanize real people with families, creates monolithic enemies, reduces them to targets that must be destroyed. Explains why Michigan man was arrested by FBI after threatening to kill CNN employees.— Wajahat Ali (@WajahatAli) January 23, 2018
Call it by it’s name:— Imraan Siddiqi (@imraansiddiqi) January 23, 2018
-Radical. Trump-inspired. Terror. https://t.co/OS1gkRgrmY
A Michigan man threatened to go to Atlanta to commit mass murder at @CNN headquarters. The man made 22 calls to CNN about a week ago that began with claims of "fake news" and ended with threats of violence. Wonder where he could have been radicalized. https://t.co/h2FiHvWnQT— Jamil Smith (@JamilSmith) January 23, 2018
"Fake news. I'm coming to gun you all down."— Evan McMullin (@Evan_McMullin) January 23, 2018
The things our leaders say and do, good and bad, inspire others to act accordingly. Their examples should encourage unity and respect for our vital institutions, not enmity and threats of violence.https://t.co/ogHw0MBJxi
Not a week before Griesemer's alleged threats to CNN, Arizona Senator Jeff Flake stressed on the dangers Trump's fake news rhetoric poses to American sovereignty and national security in a poignant speech,
"Mr. President, let us be clear. The impulses underlying the dissemination of such untruths are not benign. They have the effect of eroding trust in our vital institutions and conditioning the public to no longer trust them. The destructive effect of this kind of behavior on our democracy cannot be overstated."
Banner / Thumbnail : RUSSELL BOYCE/REUTERS