Column: Well Done, Boston Globe

This image shows a portion of a satirical front page of The Boston Globe published on the newspaper's website on Saturday, April 9, 2016. The editorial board of The Boston Globe used the parody to express its uneasiness with a potential Donald Trump presidency. (The Boston Globe via AP)

One of the most recent attacks on Donald Trump has come from the Boston Globe’s Editorial Board, which published a satirical front page to the opinion section detailing what headlines and stories would be like under a Trump presidency. While some have praised the paper for its accomplishments in the realm of satire, critics have accused the Boston Globe of overstepping boundaries and compromising journalistic integrity through partisanship. The Editorial Board’s actions, however, were completely within its power, and – perhaps – within its responsibility as a media outlet that wishes to preserve democracy and free speech.

Most of the criticisms toward the newspaper are merely the result of ignorance. The page was not, as some believe, published as the front page of the Sunday newspaper; instead, it served as a front page to the opinion section alone, still within the newspaper itself. In addition to this, the articles published on this page are not simply “fake” news stories with no journalistic integrity. Instead, they directly reference specific elements of Trump’s platform, falling under headlines such as “Deportations to Begin” and “US soldiers refuse orders to kill ISIS families” – both ideas which Trump has suggested. The staff of the Boston Globe even combed through speeches, reports, and interviews so that they could quote Trump directly; in one article, they incorporate his statement that he will deport immigrants “so fast your head will spin,” and in another, his quote that journalists are “absolute scum” is used. This therefore proves that the page is a humorous commentary on real life events, placing it in the category of satire, which has been used by opinion pages for years.

Of course, Trump responded that the paper was “worthless” and “stupid,” citing this incident as proof that the paper had compromised its journalistic integrity, as the Boston Globe later reported. But this satirical front page, and the editorial that accompanied it, fall completely under the jurisdiction of the opinion section and therefore do not reflect on the integrity of the rest of the newspaper. To make this clear, the page contained an editor’s note that specified that this is “what might happen if the GOP frontrunner can put his ideas into practice.” The note also clarifies that “the editorial board finds it deeply troubling,” and in doing so claims responsibility for the opinions. With this clarification, the newspaper can publish the partisan opinion of its Editorial Board without lending any bias to the nonpartisan remainder of the publication.

I do not believe Sunday’s opinion section is as partisan as critics believe. After all, the editorial, titled “The GOP Must Stop Trump” appeals directly to the GOP against a particular candidate, not the party itself. The Editorial Board calls for the Republican National Committee to nominate a more moderate Republican, such as Mitt Romney or Paul Ryan, if Trump does not win the necessary 1,237 delegates. If one reads closely, the focus seems to be on the un-American, undemocratic, and ultimately un-Republican values that Trump preaches, like the deportation of immigrants, the persecution of Muslims, and the opening of libel laws to restrict the free speech of newspapers. Therefore, in some ways the editorial staff is inviting the GOP to preserve the party and the platforms it has upheld in previous years. They are not so much anti-Republican as anti-demagogue.

The actions of the Boston Globe’s editorial board do, however, beg the question of how far a newspaper should go to intervene in a presidential election. But I think the Boston Globe has rightfully discovered that there are more important things than risking the political associations of a widely-read newspaper. If Trump intends to take away personal freedoms away from American citizens and censor newspapers with the use of libel laws, then it is the responsibility of the Boston Globe to take action instead of sitting on the sidelines. Only free speech makes editorials like this possible, and it is a right that must be exercised when it is threatened. In an election where the truth is often too easily discarded, this editorial board has presented the truth with more clarity than any other attempt thus far, which is crucial to preserving American ideals.


Alex Oliveira is a staff writer for the Daily Campus. She can be reached via email at alexandra.oliveira@uconn.edu.