How Elon Musk Helped Cause An Avalanche Of Hate For A Journalist Covering A Hit-And-Run

How Elon Musk Helped Cause An Avalanche Of Hate For A Journalist Covering A Hit-And-Run

This journalism stuff isn’t always easy, especially when folk on the internet decide to barnstorm you over misconceptions and online bigotry. It certainly doesn’t help when the richest man on Earth repeats those bullshit assumptions for his gaggle of rabid fans. One journalist found herself in this position, but she’s not letting Elon Musk or his hungry, hate-filled followers on X slow down her important work.

Poynter, a publication that follows the media, has the story of what happened to Las Vegas Review-Journal crime reporter Sabrina Schnur after she reported on the death of retired police chief Andreas Probst in August. The retired cop was hit by a car while on his morning bike ride near his Las Vegas home last month. Despite Schnur being first on the scene, first to speak to the Probst family, and being the person who urged a witness with footage of the intentional strike to come forward, she’s been the target of anti-Semitic vitriol and hate. It only got worse when Elon Musk picked up the story. From Poynter:

When retired police chief Andreas Probst was killed in a hit-and-run last month, Las Vegas Review-Journal crime reporter Sabrina Schnur was the first journalist to arrive on the scene.

Schnur was also the first local reporter to talk to Probst’s family, penning an obituary to ensure that his widow’s and daughter’s voices would be heard.

And she was the reporter who instructed a source with video footage of the killing to go to the police, just nine hours before police announced a murder charge in the case.

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But despite her work documenting Probst’s death, Schnur became the target of anti-Semitic attacks and death wishes over the weekend as social media users questioned why the “media” wasn’t properly covering the attack. Screenshots of the month-old obituary’s headline sparked outrage among readers who falsely assumed the Review-Journal was downplaying Probst’s death.

The obituary originally ran on Aug. 18 with the headline “Retired police chief killed in bike crash remembered for laugh, love of coffee.” At that point, police did not yet know that the killing was intentional. Thirteen days later, on Aug. 31, a source approached Schnur with a video showing the driver in the crash intentionally hitting Probst and laughing about it with the passenger. She connected the source with the police, and the Review-Journal covered the subsequent murder charge.

But when that video went viral over the weekend, social media users shared screenshots of the old obituary, taking issue with the phrase “bike crash.” They filled Schnur’s inbox and social media mentions with increasingly personal attacks and accused her of being anti-white. They shared her photo and made anti-Semitic comments. They circulated her office phone number and told her that they hoped she would get cancer, that they hoped she would die. They found her private social media accounts and dug through her Twitter, unearthing posts she’d made as a teenager, going as far back as 2015.

“That’s what started to scare me — if they’re taking the time to go through my Twitter, what else are they taking the time to find on me?” Schnur said. “I started to piece together, OK, if I was going to just cyber stalk someone, what things would they be able to find on me? I started to feel genuinely unsafe at that point.”

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On Sunday morning, Elon Musk, the billionaire owner of X, formerly known as Twitter, amplified one of the screenshots, posting “An innocent man was murdered in cold blood while riding his bicycle. The killers joked about it on social media Yet, where is the media outrage? Now you begin to understand the lie.” That post had 68.2 million views as of Monday evening.

This unfortunately isn’t the first time reporters at the Las Vegas Review-Journal have faced violence from perpetually online individuals. Just last year, reporter Jeff German was stabbed to death outside of his home, with a subject of his reporting currently under arrest for the murder.

The entire story is really sad; a horrible death turned into a dangerous situation by people who don’t understand how police investigations or reporting works. Schnur isn’t letting these delusional individuals slow her down, however. You can read the whole story here.