'Everything exploded' in North Dakota town after Fox News pushed false story of politically-motivated murder
This past fall, a police report in Foster County, North Dakota claimed that a 42-year-old man named Shannon Brandt had run over 18-year-old Cayler Ellingson after he allegedly accused the teen of being part of a "Republican extremist group."
The case drew outrage among right-wing media personalities, many of whom linked Ellingson's killing to President Joe Biden's speeches slamming "MAGA Republicans" as an inspiration.
But as the New York Times reports, this narrative around the murder has largely turned out to be untrue, as police subsequently determined that Brandt's actions were not politically motivated.
What's more, the Foster County prosecutor who brought charges against Brandt never mentioned anything about Ellingson being targeted for violence due to his political beliefs.
Nonetheless, the national attention from Fox News created a firestorm in McHenry, North Dakota, a tiny town of just 64 residents.
Or as Ashley Brandt-Duda, Brandt's sister, told the Times, "everything just exploded" thanks to Fox News' sensationalizing of the story.
"Ms. Brandt-Duda said her parents left their home in McHenry out of concern for their safety. When they returned about a week later, they found more than 50 threatening messages on their answering machine," reports the Times. "The county court and sheriff’s offices also received numerous threats, according to multiple local officials."
The report concludes by noting that coverage of Ellingson's murder almost completely died on Fox News once it was determined to have not been political -- but no prime time hosts ever acknowledged that this was the case.
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