TV Meteorologist Quits After Getting Threats Over Climate Change Coverage

After 18 years in TV news, he's leaving for good due to post-traumatic stress caused by threats.

The chief meteorologist for the Des Moines, Iowa, news station KCCI resigned on Wednesday after receiving threats about his coverage of climate change. He said he is leaving TV news after 18 years and has experienced post-traumatic stress from being threatened.  

"I'm trying to put it behind me," Chris Gloninger told The Washington Post this week. "But at the same point, I think it brings awareness to what journalists face day-to-day bringing the news."

1
Threats Arrive

ChrisGloninger/Twitter

Gloninger became KCCI's chief meteorologist in 2021, moving to the station from NBC10 Boston, where he won a 2019 regional Emmy for an environmental project. Last June, Gloninger said he received an email that read, "Getting sick and tired of your liberal conspiracy on the weather."

A few days later, he got another that said, "What's your address. We conservative Iowans would like to give you an Iowan welcome you will never forget."

2
Attempts to Engage Sender Didn't Work

Chris Gloninger KCCI/Facebook

The emails kept coming for another month, the Iowa Capital Dispatch reported. One accused Gloninger of being a conspiracy theorist and a "worthless Biden puppet." Another told him to "go east and drown from the ice cap melting." Gloninger told the Washington Post he developed a thick skin and focused on demonstrating how climate change could affect his viewers.

3
The "Aha'"Moment

Chris Gloninger KCCI/Facebook

"It's great to see that 'aha' moment," Gloninger said. "So I've always been wanting to try to educate but to also have a conversation." He replied cordially to the first harassing email he received on June 21, 2022. It didn't lead to a conversation. He received a second, more threatening email, which caused him to rush home to his wife and call the police.

4
Sharing Messages Didn't Bring Relief

ChrisGloninger/Twitter

Gloninger shared some of the messages on Twitter in July 2022 and said they had taken a toll on him. "I don't want to be the news," Gloninger said he recalled thinking. "I wanted to bring awareness to the fact that it's not just me, it's other climate scientists, scientists, journalists."

Messages from the same sender continued to arrive. Gloninger said he saw a therapist for PTSD, lost focus at work, and couldn't sleep.

5
Sender of Emails Fined

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Police identified a 63-year-old man in Lenox, Iowa, who admitted in August to sending the emails, the Iowa Capital Dispatch reported. A judge ordered the man to pay a fine. But Gloninger had trouble focusing at work because of the trauma, the Washington Post reported. Also, facing health issues within his family, he made the decision to step down.

6
Next Stop: "Fostering Positive Change"

Chris Gloninger KCCI/Facebook

Gloninger told viewers about his impending departure during a Wednesday night broadcast. He wore a tie patterned with light blue stripes, a reference to "warming stripe" graphics that illustrate rising average temperatures worldwide.  He didn't say what he would be doing next but that he would be "dedicated to helping solve the climate crisis."

"I take immense pride in having educated the public about the impacts of climate change during my career," Gloninger tweeted. "Now, I will devote my full-time efforts to finding sustainable solutions and fostering positive change."

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