On Tuesday, CNN reporter Katelyn Polantz gave several reports about a worrying new story: a wave of terrifying violent threats against the Colorado Supreme Court judges whose ruling removed Donald Trump from the state’s ballot. There was just one problem. Polantz herself was forced to admit repeatedly that, “no specific threats” actually had been made, and the story essentially amounted to a handful of feds combing through social media sites for somebody to arrest.
CNN’s reporting on this non-story was reminiscent of those clickbait pieces where the actual body of the article itself debunks the intentionally eye-catching headline. During the 11 a.m. Eastern hour of CNN News Central, for example, co-anchor Sara Sidner teased Polantz’s report like this:
And still ahead, the serious threats that are being made against the Colorado justices who ruled last week that Donald Trump could not be on Colorado's state ballot. Now, the FBI is stepping into the fray.
Wow, serious threats? Into the fray? Sounds like a bloodbath. Then came the actual report:
That [court decision] led to what we understand, on Thursday, was a situation where the Denver Police had to go to one of the Justices’ homes because of what they call a ‘hoax report’ that was made. And since then, there are the names of the Justices on the Colorado Supreme Court being discussed on far-right pro-Trump websites...
So, no specific threats at this time that are requiring law enforcement to make arrests that we know of. But this is a climate where there are many, many people making general threats and using violent rhetoric around public officials.
So to summarize: there was a “hoax” threat according to law enforcement, there are websites where people are referring to the Justices by their actual names, and “no specific threats” have been found. Kind of different from what Sidner was selling us in the lead-up to the segment, when you think about it.
That was how it went every time: an overwrought teaser, followed by a report that failed to deliver the goods. Polantz did mention that some wing nut on an unnamed website (which the entire media are describing only as a “far-right pro-Trump website,” so probably 4chan), had written “All f— robed rats must f— hang.” Disturbing language, to be sure. But given the FBI are practically addicted to arresting right-wing internet tough guys, the lack of any arrests in this case is rather telling.
Who knows, it’s possible some idiot will try to “take things into his own hands,” like that Biden voter who flew across the country in the hopes of kidnapping and murder Justice Kavanaugh. But even if that does happen (though let’s pray it doesn’t), that will do nothing to vindicate Sidner’s disingenuous framing of this story.
Because as things stand now, the FBI have yet to produce a single actionable threat, and yet Sidner’s still out there flapping her arms and shrieking about “serious threats.”