U.S. Press Freedom Tracker

Iowa man convicted for threatening meteorologist, who later left TV news

Incident Details

August 10, 2022

An Iowa man was charged with harassment on Aug. 10, 2022, after sending threatening emails to KCCI-TV Chief Meteorologist Chris Gloninger. The man pleaded guilty and was issued a fine. Gloninger later announced he was stepping down from his TV news post.

Gloninger wrote in an article for The Boston Globe Magazine in July 2023 that he started receiving the emails after his reporting began addressing the effects of climate change.

“I saw it as my responsibility to our audience to connect the dots between climate change and extreme weather events in the region,” Gloninger wrote.

The first threat was sent on June 21, 2022, according to Iowa Capital Dispatch. Gloninger later tweeted that in an email three days later, the man wrote, “What’s your home address, we conservative Iowans would like to give you an Iowan welcome you will never forget.”

The same individual continued sending the threatening emails — sometimes multiple times a week — until at least July 16, the Dispatch reported. Gloninger tweeted that police were investigating the harassment but that it was taking a toll.

“It’s mentally exhausting & at times I have NOT been ok,” Gloninger wrote. “The threat of course was concerning, but the stream of harassing emails is even more distressing. It means he is thinking about it constantly. He is angry about it and filled with hate.”

The man, Danny H. Hancock, was charged with third-degree harassment on Aug. 10, according to court records reviewed by the U.S. Press Freedom Tracker. Hancock pleaded guilty on Sept. 2 and was ordered to pay a $105 fine and approximately $75 in court fees.

On June 21, 2023 — exactly one year after receiving the first threatening email — Gloninger announced he was leaving broadcast news.

“18 years. 7 stations. 5 states. I am bidding farewell to TV to embark on a new journey dedicated to helping solve the climate crisis,” Gloninger wrote in a statement. “After a death threat stemming from my climate coverage last year and resulting PTSD, in addition to family health issues, I’ve decided to begin this journey *now*.”

Gloninger told the Tracker in March 2024 that he has noticed a mounting hostility toward members of the press since 2016.

“The extremism since 2016 has left journalists in general, not just TV meteorologists, with a sense of being not safe doing the job that we’re doing,” Gloninger said. “There is an absolute correlation between Donald Trump taking office and people feeling emboldened, empowered and entitled to unleash whatever the hell they feel.”

In an interview with The Washington Post after his announcement, Gloninger said that he didn’t want to be the story, but that he felt it was important to speak about an issue that was affecting other climate journalists.

“I’m trying to put it behind me,” Gloninger said. “But at the same point, I think it brings awareness to what journalists face day-to-day bringing the news.”

Editor’s Note: This article has been updated to include comment from former KCCI-TV meteorologist Chris Gloninger.

The U.S. Press Freedom Tracker catalogues press freedom violations in the United States. Email tips to [email protected].