A REUTERS SPECIAL REPORT Pro-Trump news site targets election workers, inspiring wave of menace
Category: News & PoliticsVia: hallux • 8 months ago • 15 comments
By: PETER EISLER and JASON SZEP
The Gateway Pundit, which started as a tiny opinion blog, saw readership surge to nearly 50 million views a month as it amplified Donald Trump’s false stolen-election claims. Reuters documented the impact: 25 election workers targeted by more than 100 violent threats or hostile messages citing the Pundit.
The story had a bombshell headline: “Thousands of fake votes” had been discovered in Madison, Wisconsin, two weeks after Democrat Joe Biden narrowly beat then-President Donald Trump in the state.
The bogus report from the far-right website Gateway Pundit drew attention to a set of initials – MLW – inscribed on what it claimed were “fake” ballots. Then a reader posted a comment on the story correctly identifying MLW: Maribeth L. Witzel-Behl, the Madison city clerk, whose duties include administering elections.
Other commenters soon called for Witzel-Behl’s execution. She found one post especially unnerving. It recommended a specific bullet for killing her – a 7.62 millimeter round for an AK-47 assault rifle.
Witzel-Behl was stunned by the threats and the angry calls that poured into her office. Contrary to the story’s insinuation that the initials meant the ballots were fake, in reality she and her staff wrote her initials on all absentee ballots, before they were given to voters, as a matter of policy.
Witzel-Behl is among 25 election officials and workers …