Analyzing the Boston Globe’s fake Donald Trump front page

boston globeMy Boston Globe arrived yesterday with a second, scary front page, dated April 9, 2017, featuring stories from a future Trump presidency. (It’s actually the front of the Sunday op-ed section, an illustration for an op-ed article called “The GOP Must Stop Trump.”) Donald Trump, predictably, responded by calling the paper “stupid.”

Having written pretend stories about Trump myself, I know it’s tricky. But after careful examination, I think the research behind this piece is solid. It’s accurate, and it’s terrifying.

Here’s what the Globe said, with excerpts graded on believability and scariness.

Deportations to begin (Lead Story)

Trump1President Trump calls for tripling of ICE force; riots continue
Curfews extended in multiple cities

President Trump has set in motion of of his most controversial campaign promises, calling on Congress to fund a “massive deportation force” by tripling the number of federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents. . . .

Trump reiterated his promise to eject some 11.3 million illegal workers on a two-year timetable — “so fast that you head will spin” . . . the $400 billion deportation program promises to be one of the most disruptive government actions attempted since desegration . . .

Would a President Trump do this? It’s consistent with his positions during the campaign. It would never pass Congress, though; Republicans would object to the $400 billion price tag and Democrats would resist a draconian immigration action. (Trump would then whip his supporters into penalizing congresspeople opposed to the action). The Globe’s prediction of the proposed legislation and the resulting riots and rotting California produce are also plausible.

Believability: A
Scariness: A

Markets sink as trade war looms

trump2Worldwide stocks plunged again Friday, completing the worst month on record as trade wars with both China and Mexico seem imminent.

Markets from the Dow to the FTSE to the Nikkei have sunk on speculation that China is dumping some of its US Treasury holdings after the Trump administration announced tariffs as high as 45 percent for all Chinese imports and 35 percent for some Mexican goods.

“I don’t mind trade wars when we’re losing $58 billion a year,” the president said last year. But Chinese officials have made it no secret they will not let tariffs go unanswered. . . .

This article is completely consistent with Trump’s rhetoric, but the president cannot impose tariffs of this kind without violating existing trade agreements. And the Globe’s prediction of an economic meltdown from the trade war is chillingly accurate. Imagine the disruption from price hikes on consumer goods from China, ruptured supply chains, and interrupted demand for treasury bills. A stock plunge would follow, and then a major recession.

Believability: A-
Scariness: A+

US soldiers refuse orders to kill ISIS families

trump3The military faces a “crisis of good order and discipline,” Pentagon officials said yesterday, after days of widespread unrest in the ranks over White House orders to kill relatives of ISIS militants.

More protests were planned in support of two Army Special Forces soliders who disobeyed direct orders to kill everyone in an ISIS compound. . . .

A clash between the military and the White House had been brewing since the campaign, when former CIA chief General Michael Hayden explicitly warned that “American armed forces would refuse to act” if Trump ordered an attack on terrorist families.

Would Trump give such orders? While the president can order the military to act, I think in this case our military leaders would tell him that these orders would violate the Geneva Conventions and result in widespread disruption and resignations of senior officers. So I doubt it would get this far. If it did, the Globe’s description of the results are chillingly accurate — a breakdown in military order would most likely result, along with allies breaking ranks with the United States.

Believability: B-
Scariness: A+

New libel law targets “absolute scum” in press

Legislation could supplant state laws

A Republican-controlled Congress last night passed sweeping changes to libel law in the United States, moving the bill to the desk of the new president who has promised to sign it. . . .

Both the House and the Senate support the so-called LAME Act (Limited American Media Entitlement Act] . . . “Seventy to 75 percent of reporters are absolutely dishonest. Absolute scum. Remember that. Scum. Scum. Totally dishonest people,” Trump said in a ceremony on Capitol Hill with WWE start Hulk Hogan . . .

Could such a bill pass? Unlikely. Conservatives would resist interfering with corporations, and both parties are unlikely to mess this explicitly with the First Amendment. Even if it passed, it would be struck down by federal courts. If it did pass, of course, it could be the most terrifying step in Trump’s fascist-style moves to stifle opposition.

Believability: C
Scariness: A+

Pet Peeve

trump4President Trump, who campaigned on a platform to reform trade relations with China to “make America great again,” touched off a diplomatic crisis last week after insulting Peng Liyuan, the fashionable first lady of China who has been dubbed the “Chinese Kate Middleton.” Trump tweeted out a photo of his new pet shar­pei, a wrinkly puppy named Madame  Peng. But he was unrepentant, saying his foreign policy needs to be “unpredictable.” . . .

Would Trump do something this stupid? Absolutely, it’s consistent with past behavior. Would it have this type of impact? Probably.

Believability: A
Scariness: B-

Bank glitch halts border wall work

Laredo, Texas . . . Construction on the new border wall stopped suddenly on Friday . . . after Mexico refused to pay. . . .

The shortfall means that Trump may have to turn to Congress to kick in back wages and repay the short-term loans he arranged with government authorized cement contractors . . .

The Globe concocted an unlikely scenario by which Trump could get the hugely expensive wall built.

Believability: C
Scariness: D

Trump on Nobel Prize short list

Nobel-watchers were abuzz with speculation that President Trump might be on the short list for the coveted 2017 peace prize . . . HIs feat? Healing a 1,385-year-old schism between Sunni and Shi’ite Muslims . . .

Nope.

Believability: F
Scariness: D

Inside (squibs for additional items)

NASA engineers halted the launch of an unmanned probe amid fears that its new gold leaf trim would interfere with radio communications.

Japanese Emperor Akihito formally censured Ambassador Kid Rock . . .

Heavy spring snow closed Trump National Park for the first time since it dropped its loser name, Yellowstone . . .

Education Secretary Omarosa Manigault summoned PBS officals . . .

“A Trumping to Remember,” the president’s first romance novel . . .

Fun. But filler.

Believability: F
Scariness: C-

Conclusion

Despite the filler and silliness at the bottom of the page, the Globe has effectively projected major elements of what a Trump presidency might be like — and in doing so, has probably scared the crap out of a lot of readers. This should be required reading for every voter in 2016.

4 responses to “Analyzing the Boston Globe’s fake Donald Trump front page

  1. Josh, this piece was good, but it seemed like a last-minute idea to me. There are so many other things Trump has said that didn’t make it to this page: NATO, Muslims, the war of the wives, repealing Obamacare, renegotiating the Iran deal, encouraging everyone to be armed, his commitment to having the “best people” working for him — and so much more — that would have been great fodder for this page. Did they have to start in with the Nobel Prize or the sharpei? It was maddening.

    1. Diane, so much of what Donald Trump says is completely implausible that you couldn’t imagine seeing it on a page like this. This may have kept the Globe from going completely nuts with some of what you said.

      And “I could never imagine that happening” is perhaps the most chilling comment of all.

  2. Josh, I love your writing without bullshit topics. The Trump topics? Not so much.
    I doubt that there are many people interested in communicating without bullshit that are also Trump supporters. I don’t see how they could get through three or more Trump sound bites without feeling slathered in BS.
    Point is – you’re preaching to the choir, and I hear enough about politics from other sources.
    Please?

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