They received numerous threatening letters, too, Ms. Brandt-Duda said. One was written on the margins of an article about the incident from The New York Post, she said. The newspaper covered the case extensively and also published an opinion column arguing that the “president of the United States, supported by a fan-girl media, spouts irresponsible rhetoric that led to Ellingson’s death.”
“Everything just exploded,” Ms. Brandt-Duda said.
The county court and sheriff’s offices also received numerous threats, according to multiple local officials. On Sept. 29, 11 days after Mr. Ellingson’s death, the county prosecutor, Kara Brinster, dropped the initial charge of vehicular homicide, which is used for fatal drunken driving accidents, for a new one: intentional homicide, which carries a sentence of up to life in prison.
Ms. Brinster did not respond to requests for comment on the decision.
Then, as quickly as it swelled, the media frenzy receded. Fox Digital, the TV network’s online arm, continued to publish articles that acknowledged the more complicated story that was emerging from officials. But Fox News’s hosts did not mention the case on-air again after Sept. 30.
Asked for comment, a Fox spokeswoman, Jessica Ketner, noted the company’s online articles but did not comment on the network’s television coverage.
Gateway Pundit, too, stopped publishing stories on the case. Politicians who had been quick to speak out appeared to lose interest. Mr. Trump, Ms. Greene, Mr. Jordan and Mr. Wrigley, the North Dakota attorney general, did not respond to requests for comment.