Media Mayhem

The rhetoric against the media, and CNN in particular, seems to have come with an increase in threats of violence against the news organization. Screaming “Fake News!,” CNN and its anchors have been repeatedly targeted and threatened. The pattern of this violence matches well to the modalities of stochastic terrorism, where violent acts against targets are induced through implications and subtle non-references to be understood by would-be-attackers.

Anti-media rhetoric needs to be taken seriously because the threats are very real and very deadly. Benjamin Matthews is accused of calling CNN with threats against anchor Don Lemon. Brandon Griesemer was arrested by Federal authorities after allegedly calling CNN, making anti-Semitic remarks, and threatening to visit CNN headquarters with a gun to commit violence.

Cesar Sayoc allegedly sent dozens of rudimentary package bombs to CNN personnel as well as politicians and other public media figures. And in perhaps the most disturbing incident yet, Federal authorities have arrested Coast Guard Lieutenant Christopher Paul Hasson on weapons charges. Search of his email and computer shows deep ties to white supremacy, neo-Naziism, and ideological connections to the Vanguardist white supremacist movements that promote lone wolf terrorism. He allegedly made a target list which included media figures, politicians, and even the entire Democratic Socialists of America organization. Federal authorities found fifteen guns, over a thousand rounds of ammunition, and steroids.

The threats seem to correlate with anti-media sentiment coming from mainstream right-wing sources. Beyond “stochastic terrorism,” it is hard to not suspect a current of deliberate provocation flowing under the surface of mainstream politics.

Case Summary

State v Benjamin Craig Matthews (Baxter County (AR) Circuit Court — 03CR-18-476)
Awaiting Trial
25-February-2021 (Additional Hearing)
Benjamin Craig Matthews is accused of making harassing and threatening phone calls to CNN journalist Don Lemon. According to the criminal complaint, he has made similar calls to Maxine Waters, Planned Parenthood, and other individuals and organizations.
Benjamin Craig Matthews
Benjamin Matthews
Terroristic threatening — first degree (5 counts)
5-13-301(a) (Arkansas Code)
Charged Up to 6 years
Terroristic threatening — second degree (4 counts)
5-13-301(b) (Arkansas Code)
Charged Up to 1 year
Harassing communications (9 counts)
5-71-209 (Arkansas Code)
Charged Up to 1 year
USA v Sayoc (US District Court (Southern NY) — 1:18-cr-00820-JSR)
Cesar Sayoc is mailed at least 16 package bombs to US politicians and media figures in a mass assassination attempt in October of 2018. He entered a guilty plea to 65 counts in March of 2019.
Cesar Altieri Sayoc
Cesar Altieri
Cesar Sayoc
Cesar Randazzo
Cesar Altieri Randazzo
Use of a weapon of mass destruction (16 counts)
18 U.S.C. § 2332a(a)(2) (United States Code)
Convicted (Plea) 10 years
Interstate transportation and receipt of explosives (16 counts)
18 U.S.C. § 844(d) and 2 (United States Code)
Convicted (Plea) 10 years
Threatening interstate communications (16 counts)
18 U.S.C. § 875(c) (United States Code)
Convicted (Plea) 5 years
Illegal mailing of explosives (16 counts)
18 U.S.C. § 1716(j)(2) and 2 (United States Code)
Convicted (Plea) 10 years
Use of explosives to commit a felony
18 U.S.C. § 844(h) and 2 (United States Code)
Convicted (Plea) 10 years, consecutive to other counts
USA v Griesemer, Brandon (US District Court (Eastern MI) — 2:19-cr-20221-AC-APP)
Brandon Griesemer is accused of making multiple phone calls to CNN headquarters, threatening a mass shooting. According to the complaint, Griesemer also targeted an Islamic center, as well as made disparaging comments towards Jewish people.
Brandon Griesemer Interstate communications with intent to extort — threat to injure
18 U.S.C. § 875(c) (United States Code)
Convicted (Plea) Time served
USA v Chain, Robert (US District Court (Massachusetts) — 1:18-cr-10322-WGY)
Robert Chain pleaded guilty to making threatening phone calls to the Boston Globe, threatening to "shoot them all" and calling them an "enemy of the people."
Robert Darrell Chain
Robert Chain
Interstate communications with threat to injure (7 counts)
18 U.S.C. § 875(c) (United States Code)
Convicted (Plea) 4 months
USA v Hasson, Christopher Paul (US District Court (Maryland) — 8:19-cr-00096-GJH)
Lt. Christopher Paul Hasson was a United States Coast Guard officer and self-described white nationalist who pleaded guilty to owning firearms while a user of a controlled substance. He had assembled a list of targets and wanted to commit acts of terroristic violence to establish a white ethnostate.
Christopher Paul Hasson
Christopher Hasson
Suspected affiliations:
United States Coast Guard
Unlawful possession of unregistered firearms silencers
26 U.S.C. § 5861(d) (United States Code)
Convicted (Plea) 160 months (all charges)
Unlawful possession of firearms silencers unidentified by serial number
26 U.S.C. § 5861(i) (United States Code)
Convicted (Plea) 160 months (all charges)
Possession of firearm and ammunition by unlawful user or addict of any controlled substance
18 U.S.C. § 922(g)(3) (United States Code)
Convicted (Plea) 160 months (all charges)
Simple possession of Tramadol, a Schedule IV controlled substance
21 U.S.C. § 844(a) (United States Code)
Convicted (Plea) 160 months (all charges)

Document List

All people on this list are presumed innocent until proven guilty in a court of law. Arrests, charges, and indictments are not considered evidence of wrongdoing. All defendants presented herein have a right to due process. The public also has a right to learning the disposition of their cases.