Yesterday was a great day for the newspaper industry.
For once, the industry was in the headlines in a good way — for a satirical front page The Boston Globe published presaging what a Donald Trump presidency might look like.
I’m sure many of you have seen it by now…If you’re not a Trump fan, it’s ingenious, hilarious and audacious. If you are a Trump fan, as it appears a newspaper called The Washington Times is, it’s “an odd, ambitious and detailed project doubtless involving multiple reporters, designers and editors.”
Harrumph, harrumph…In other words, doesn’t The Boston Globe have anything more constructive for its staff to do than come up with a farcical front page tweaking Trump?
The answer, unequivocally, is this project says more about the petrifying prospect of a Trump presidency than any amount of “straight” reporting or editorial commentary could do.
The headline on the lead story blares, “DEPORTATIONS TO BEGIN.” Under it, this sub-head: “President Trump calls for tripling of ICE force; riots continue.” Under a photo of Trump speaking in front of an American flag, is a grab-quote from Trump, saying he’ll deport illegals “so fast your head will spin.”
Lower on the page, there’s a headline that had to warm the hearts, in a skewering way, of journalists everywhere: “New libel law targets ‘absolute scum’ in press.”
An “In the News” segment down the left side of the page is led by a short story under this headline: “Bank glitch halts border wall work.”
…For the record, this wasn’t the actual front page of Sunday’s Boston Globe; it was the front page of the paper’s Ideas, or opinion, section.
An editor’s note at the bottom of the page explained the very serious thinking underlying the project:
This is Donald’s Trump’s America. What you read on this page is what might happen if the GOP front-runner can put his ideas into practice, his words into action. Many Americans might find this vision appealing, but the Globe’s editorial board finds it deeply troubling.
An editorial inside the Ideas section says the satirical front “is an exercise in taking a man at his word. And his vision of America promises to be as appalling in real life as it is in black and white on the page. It is a vision that demands an active and engaged opposition. It requires an opposition as focused on denying Trump the White House as the candidate is flippant and reckless about securing it.”
Trump’s reaction, as you would expect, was derisive and dismissive. “How about that stupid Boston Globe? It’s worthless,” he said at a rally in Rochester, New York. “The whole front page is a make-believe story, which is really no different from the whole paper.”
Trump, of course, does not have sufficient sophistication to appreciate satire; he’s a hammer-and-anvil sort who blows and blusters his way forward, lurching from one crazy statement to another, only to retract half of them.
The Boston Globe provided not just its readers but the nation with a landmark piece of satire yesterday. Editorial page editors at major metropolitan papers around the country are probably looking at that and saying, “God, I wish we had done that!”
On the subject of editorial pages, the McClatchy website is advertising job openings for two posts on The Kansas City Star editorial page. One posting is for an editorial page editor; the other for a columnist. The new hires would replace Steve Paul and Barbara Shelly, who took buyouts recently. Paul was editorial page editor; Shelly a columnist and editorial writer.
I’m sure the two remaining editorial writers, Yael Abouhalkah and Lewis Diuguid, were thrilled to hear that McClatchy intends to hire replacements for their departed colleagues. It’s good news for readers, too, of course; an editorial page produced by two people, even including someone as prolific as Abouhalkah, would have been a significant disservice to KC Star readers.
(Special thanks to former KC Star employee Jerry LaMartina for bringing the postings to my attention.)