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Arkansas Man Arrested, Accused of Multiple Death Threats Against CNN

TheWrap logo TheWrap 11/8/2018 Jon Levine
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Time Warner Center Evacuated: People stand outside the Time Warner Center in Manhattan after a suspicious package was found inside the CNN mailroom, October 24, 2018. © REUTERS/Kevin Coombs People stand outside the Time Warner Center in Manhattan after a suspicious package was found inside the CNN mailroom, October 24, 2018. An Arkansas man was arrested Thursday after police accused him sending death threats to CNN anchor Don Lemon. According to the Baxter County Sheriff's office, Benjamin Craig Matthews made 40 calls to CNN from a period between Oct. 30 and Nov. 2

"The content of these calls ranged from general harassment, threat of bodily injury, and calls threatening the life of a CNN journalist. More than 40 such calls had been received by CNN from the same person," read a press release from the sheriff's office, adding that Matthews had been booked on felony charges of "Terroristic Threatening and Harassing Communications."

USA Today and local media reports said the anchor in question was Don Lemon. In one such call, Matthews asked to be transferred to Lemon's "dead body hanging from a tree," the paper reported.

Reps for Lemon at CNN and the Baxter County sheriff's office did not immediately respond to request for comment from TheWrap.

It's not the first time CNN has faced death threats from around the country. In January, a 19-year-old Michigan man, Brandon Griesemer, made 22 phone calls to CNN threatening to kill CNN journalists over "fake news." Something Lemon at the time blamed on President Trump's anti-press rhetoric.

"There's nothing random about this. Nothing," said Lemon on his show. "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."

In recent weeks Lemon, a vociferous Trump critic, has warned of radicalized "white men" in the United States, saying they were the biggest threat America currently faced.

"We have to stop demonizing people and realize the biggest terror threat in this country is white men, most of them radicalized to the right, and we have to start doing something about them," he said during an appearance on "Cuomo Primetime" last month. "There is no travel ban on them … they had the Muslim ban. There is no 'white guy ban.' So what do we do about that?"

Trump routinely denigrates CNN as fake news, and has called their reporters "enemies of the people." Critics have warned that the tough talk could lead to violence against reporters, much like the kind threatened by Matthews and Griesemer.

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