On election day for the midterms, an Arkansas man was arrested for making death threats against CNN anchor Don Lemon. CBS News reports that Benjamin Craig Matthews, 39, faces five felony counts of terroristic threats, as well as 13 misdemeanor counts for threats and harassing communications.
Court filings say that between October 31 and November 2, Matthews, who is white, made over 40 calls to CNN’s headquarters making violent threats directed towards Lemon. In one of the calls, he threatened to “kick the s— out of” Lemon. The following day he asked an operator to connect him to Lemon’s “dead body hanging from a tree.” In another call he asked to be directed to “pipe bombs for” Lemon. He also talked about “bloody pictures” of Lemon “cut up in small pieces, like the movie Saw.”
The arrest comes just days after Lemon said on air that white men pose the “biggest terror threat” in America.
In the wake of last month’s racially motivated murder of two black people in a Kentucky supermarket by a white man, Lemon appeared on Cuomo Prime Time to discuss the culture surrounding the recent spate of violence carried out by right-wing conspiracists and white supremacists. According to Lemon, the “biggest terror threat” facing America is “white men” — not people who, for example, are marching in the migrant caravan.
“But we keep thinking that the biggest terror threat is something else—some people who are marching toward the border like its imminent, and when the last time they did this a couple hundred people came and they, most of them didn’t get into the country,” Lemon said. “Most of them got tuckered out before they even made it to the border.”
Lemon wasn’t the only public figure Matthews threatened. Court filings show he also called Rep. Maxine Waters, D-California, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-New York, the Washington Speakers Bureau, Planned Parenthood, and Stormy Daniels’ attorney Michael Avenatti, and the news network MSNBC. While it’s not known what he said in those calls, prosecutors say they’re further evidence of a pattern of harassment.
Lemon faced considerable backlash for his comments, but later in the week he appeared on air and doubled down.
“Earlier this week, I made some comments about that in a conversation with Chris,” he said. “I said that the biggest terror threat in this country comes from radicals on the far right, primarily white men. That angered some people. But let’s put emotion aside and look at the cold hard facts. The evidence is overwhelming.”
After backing up his argument with some data, Lemon said people angry at his words are “missing the point.”
“We don’t need to worry about people who are thousands of miles away. The biggest threats are homegrown. The facts prove that.”
Featured image via screen grab/Baxter County Sheriff’s Office