C-SPAN viewers got quite the shock Friday when a man called in and threatened “to shoot” CNN journalists Don Lemon and Brian Stelter during a live broadcast.
The caller, ID’d by C-SPAN host Greta Brawner as “Don from State College, Pennsylvania,” phoned into the show Friday to back President Donald Trump‘s recent attacks on the news media, HuffPost reported. Throughout his presidency, Trump has repeatedly demonized the press, calling it “the enemy of the people” and “fake news.”
“It all started when Trump got elected,” “Don from Pennsylvania,” said before accusing the reporters of labeling all Trump supporters as racist. “[Stelter and Lemon] don’t even know us. They don’t even know these Americans out here, and they’re calling us racist because we voted for Trump? C’mon, give me a break.”
“They started the war. If I see ’em, I’m going to shoot ’em. Bye,” he added before abruptly hanging up.
Stelter addressed the threat on CNN on Sunday, noting that he nor Lemon has ever dubbed all Trump supporters as “racist.” The “Reliable Sources” host also pointed out that the night before, FOX News anchor Sean Hannity played an old clip of Stelter asking if “racial anxiety played a role in Trump’s rise, suggesting that’s what may have triggered the caller’s false accusation.
“…Obviously, researchers have proven that ― yes ― racial anxiety and resentment was a factor. But that’s not the same as calling all Trump supporters racist,” Stelter said Sunday. “I don’t know if the C-SPAN caller watched Hannity. I’m not blaming Hannity. I just thought the timing was odd.”
During Friday’s broadcast, C-SPAN’s Brawner didn’t acknowledge the caller’s threat and carried on with a show as planned. A spokesman for the network claimed Brawner didn’t hear what the caller said at the time.
“If she had, she would have said something on air,” communications director Howard Mortman told HuffPost via email.
The network’s website explicitly states that program hosts are “certainly permitted to step in” when a caller “makes ad hominem attacks or uses indecent language or obviously racist language,” but notes it can be an “imperfect process” in on-air settings.
Since the threat, Stelter said he doesn’t feel he’s in “extreme danger” and knows his CNN colleagues have received “much worse.”
As for “Don from Pennsylvania,” he’s been reported to the FBI, Mortman said.
Watch more in the video below.