New York, October 24, 2018–CNN’s New York City studios were evacuated today after an explosive device was delivered to the broadcaster’s offices, according to CNN. The device was addressed to John Brennan, a former CIA director and frequent guest on CNN news programs, who is also a national security analyst for MSNBC, CNN reported. The mail bomb is the latest in a series of attacks and threats against newsrooms that CPJ has tracked in the U.S.
At a press conference today, President Donald Trump described the mail bombs as “terrorizing acts” and said that a federal investigation was underway.
“We welcome the investigation led by the FBI and New York police’s Joint Terrorism Task Force into today’s attack and call for the person or people responsible to be swiftly prosecuted and their motives thoroughly investigated,” said CPJ North America Program Coordinator Alexandra Ellerbeck. “We appreciate President Trump’s commitment to ensuring a thorough investigation. In the current circumstances, we urge him to modulate his tone, including his attacks on the media.”
The incident sent newsrooms around the country into high alert, with the offices of the San Diego Union-Tribune and CBS47 studios in Fresno also evacuated today after reports of suspicious packages being found, according to local reports. Police said that neither package contained explosives. Outlets across the country are re-evaluating security procedures in the wake of the Capital-Gazette newsroom shooting in Annapolis, Maryland, on June 28; a letter claiming to contain the fatal opioid fentanyl sent to the Circleville Herald in Ohio on July 5; a series of threats sent to the Boston Globe in August; and the arrest in January of a man who allegedly made several calls to CNN in Atlanta threatening to kill staff.
CPJ and its press freedom partners established the U.S. Press Freedom Tracker in 2017 as the first project to systematically document cases of attacks and press freedom violations in the United States.
In a news conference, New York police commissioner James O’Neill said that the explosive device delivered to CNN today could have caused serious injury. Police were also trying to identify a white powder found in the packaging, O’Neill said.