The Boston Globe’s Fake Front Page: A Vile Ethics Foul, And The Beginning Of The End For Newspaper Journalism

Globe Parody

So disturbed is the editorial staff of the Boston Globe over the nauseating threat of a Donald Trump presidency that it has jettisoned all established principles of journalism ethics in an embarrassing, self-destructive effort to “stop” him. Mark this down as one more wound on the culture that Trump has inflicted with his luxury ego trip, with the assistance of his irrational supporters, of course.

Today the Boston Globe hit the news stands and front walks featuring a satirical front page with headlines about a fictional, future Donald Trump presidency accompanied by a fevered “Stop Trump” editorial. The page was headed the “Ideas” section in the paper.

The Globe placed a PDF of the hoax  page on its website yesterday. Dated April 10, 2016, the scare-headlined page shouts: “Deportations to begin, President Trump calls for tripling of ICE force; riots continue.” The articles about Trump’s actions as President contain no humor or satirical tone.  There are solemn references to an Attorney General Chris Christie, and we learn that  ex-Fox News anchor Megyn Kelly is hanging out, Ron Burgundy-style, in a bar because she’s been placed on President Trump’s black list. Readers are also informed that “U.S. soldiers refuse orders to kill ISIS families” and that there is a new libel law aimed at muzzling the press. Another story reports that Trump named  his new dog after the Chinese First Lady as a calculated insult.

“This is Donald Trump’s America. What you read on this page is what might happen if the GOP frontrunner 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,” the editor’s note reads. Then follows an editorial urging the GOP to stop Trump.

The editorial is fine. The Globe could have even chosen to place it on its real front page instead of creating a National Lampoon imitation and been well within journalism ethics standards. Publishing fake news stories about what a theoretical President Trump might do? This is a spectacular  failure of professionalism and a journalistic disgrace. A newspaper is pledged to report the news, not imagine it. It is not ethically entitled to morph into Saturday Night Live or the Onion because it really, really, really feels strongly about an issue.

Furthermore, allowing a blabbering, posturing fool like Donald Trump to be the impetus for a tradition and credibility shattering display like this elevates him to a status he doesn’t deserve, and one that he and his mouth-breathing, “angry” mob of fans will love.

No paper published such a “future news” piece about the world under Nazi rule, or the race war if civil rights laws didn’t change. No respectable publication predicted a similar dystopian future under President Huey Long, or Joe McCarthy, or what a U.S. with open borders would look like, or what a Ron Paul style US with heroin for sale off drug store counters would lead to. That is because this means of political advocacy and commentary is reserved for the features and entertainment sections, not where facts are supposed to be, and where readers must be able to expect a reasonable attempt at truth, not a showboating effort to distort it.

Let’s start a pool when the fake front page about the world after climate change arrives, and which paper prints it.

When news magazines started becoming irrelevant thanks to the 24 hour news cycle and the internet, Time and Newsweek began engaging in increasingly desperate and unethical stunts to attract attention. In doing so, they also locked objectivity and trustworthiness out of their headquarters. It was the journalistic equivalent of the canary dying in the mine: as Ethics Alarms has stated before, “When the going gets tough, the tough get unethical.”

Now one of the most prestigious of American dailies has taken a similar step into the abyss, for there is no going back after this. The Boston Globe no longer regards reporting the news as its business and its duty. Now it declares that it will print fiction as news, to achieve its editors’ political objectives.

I agree with the Globe’s alarm, but we cannot trust a newspaper that makes this unethical calculation to sound it. Both because it shows wretched judgment and because its crosses an ethical line that must never be crossed, we cannot trust the Boston Globe again.

[ Notice of Correction: There was some confusion, initially, at least based on the accounts I read, where the fake news stories appeared. I was under the impression that they were on the actual front page, but that was not the case. This post has been clarified to make it clear that the fake page was within the paper, not on the actual front page. An indignant Boston resident, who alerted me to my error, seems to think this is a bid deal. That I misunderstood the placement was unfortunate, but I never suggested that the Globe was trying to fool anyone: even most of Trump’s dumbest acolytes presumably know it isn’t 2017 and that he isn’t currently President. The issue is using fake news stories to make a point in a news paper—any fake news stories.]


23 thoughts on “The Boston Globe’s Fake Front Page: A Vile Ethics Foul, And The Beginning Of The End For Newspaper Journalism

  1. “Mark this down as one more wound on the culture that Trump has inflicted with his luxury ego trip, with the assistance of his irrational supporters, of course.”

    If you’re allocating responsibility for this, Trump cannot be assigned as much as 1%. It’s absurd to try to transfer any measurable responsibility for an American newspaper purposely printing inaccurate material. And yes, I read the whole article.

    • So it’s just a coincidence that Trump prompted this, in your view? That a candidate has been so repulsive and outside the bounds of decency that a newspaper has lost all sense of its mission? I don’t think the word “responsibility” means what you think it does. It is fair to say that without Trump, this never would have happened. That’s cause and effect, and cause, when human, equals responsibility. This is the Trump Candidacy Train Wreck, and he is the engineer.

      • “This is the Trump Candidacy Train Wreck, and he is the engineer.”

        No, Trump is just another naked emperor on parade, drawing all kinds of attention to himself while his supporters and fake detractors, many of who are also obsessed with drawing attention to themselves, swoon over the elegance of his robes. The Globe eventually would have done something like what they did to “hit” Trump, no matter who the GOP front-runner was.

        The Globe is such a successful propaganda broadcaster! So successful, we who are not successfully propagandized dare not speak out loud. Because after all, we smarter people are just latent propcasters. Shhh!

        I’d say that any train wreck candidacy (how many are there, this year?!) or related propcasting is “engineered” by the many ticket-buyers. Not by their cult leaders, who are simply riding waves of mass gullibility, surfing on seas of lies. Mass blame and culpability apply. Yes, this is how genocides begin – much like how species extinctions begin, when the members of a species are not equipped to adapt to environmental changes.

  2. I don’t feel like I have a dog in this fight, but am curious: does the case of Orson Wells’ War of the Worlds radio broadcast bear any similarity here?

    • No, because the broadcast was intended as entertainment, not as legitimate newsworthy information and anyone who was fooled by it tuned in late.

      • Which presidential race was “War of the Worlds,” an inexcusably arrogant and pompous stunt by a massively over-rated personage and talent, about?

        • OB, Orson was many, many things, but over-rated isn’t one of them. If anything, his talent is under-rated. He made huge advances and innovations as a lighting designer, a conceptualizer, a film director, a radio producer, a playwright and a especially as a stage director. He was, I’d agree, a somewhat over-rated actor, and that is what defines him in the public’s mind, but that’s just a smidgen of the substance there. If he had stayed in theater, theater would be a lot healthier and vigorous in this country. I’m certain of it.

          • I’m not a film buff. The fact that Welles’ sets sometimes had ceilings doesn’t really do that much for me. I don’t think “Citizen Kane” is that tremendous either. Rosebud? Maybe he should have stayed in the theater. I’ll defer to your expertise on that. He just struck me as a fairly bloated personage, all around. As I said above. But that’s based almost entirely on my distaste for “Citizen Kane.”

            • Oh, I regard CK as a rather cold pleasure—I’m not a big fan. But Welles would have been the first to object to his reputation and legacy being so much tied to that film. And he should have stuck to theater.

              • Years ago, Citizen Kane was used in both of the college classes I took related to film, it’s a classic teaching tool. Some of the filming techniques and ideas used in the making of the film were considered to be quite innovative at the time. I love some of the ceiling shots and the lighting throughout the movie – especially some of the oblique lighting – was fabulous!

                • I guess I should say that other than the teaching aspects of Citizen Kane, I found it kinda boring; I wonder if I would have felt differently about it if I had been alive and old enough to see it in the theater when it was released.

                  • It’s not a great story and Kane is an uninteresting character or very poorly rendered or both. Analogous to “The Great Gatsby.” Most artists and writers have no conception of how business actually works and how people make money. Of course, I suppose most college professors and high school English teachers don’t either.

                    • The film was never about the story. The story was a structure on which to hang new effects and story-telling methods in film. Also note…

                      1. It is essentially Orson Welles’s life, not Hearst’s
                      2. My great uncle, George Coulouris, plays Hatcher in the film.

      • To be fair, even the dumbest Trumpite knows it isn’t 2017 and that Donald isn’t in charge yet. I wouldn’t bitch about this story if it was on The News Nerd—it’s obviously a hoax, The point is that the Globe ISN’T the News Nerd.

  3. Please Note: I just entered a correction on the post, because the original post contained a misleading statement or two based on my own confusion, having not seen the physical paper. I still haven’t. And the on-line pdf didn’t help.

    The fake front page was not actually on the Globe’s front page, but inside the paper. Several stories mentioned that the Globe had a “fake front page,” which I took to mean, I think reasonably, a fake front page, not a page that looked like a front page placed elsewhere in the paper. But the latter was the case.

    A guy, perhaps from the Globe, just e-mailed me and called me names over this. I think the distinction it makes a difference, but not much of one. I correctly said that it was linked to the STOP TRUMP editorial. I did not suggest that the page was intended to fool anyone, and I’m sure it didn’t.

    I apologize for the confusion, which was mine, but it doesn’t change my conclusion that writing fake news stories is an unethical way for a news paper to reflect the news.

    • So what? Who reads actual print copies of papers? Makes no difference where the page appeared. They ran it on their website. I heard about it when my wife saw it last night in a Daily Mail website article. She said, “Look what the Globe is running as a front page!” Maybe your angry caller should be scolding the Daily Mail now he’s done with you.

  4. I think this fake front page is a pretty good example of what “journalism” has become.

    It seems more and more that journalism has just become another source of media entertainment for the public who cares less about all the facts and more about entertainment on an emotional level, so the media has become less about real journalism and more about providing that emotional entertainment and in the process journalism has become mostly political tools pandering propaganda to the masses.

    Propaganda as a political tool; hmmmmm……………………

    Here are some things written about propaganda.

    “Propaganda must always address itself to the broad masses of the people.

    All propaganda must be presented in a popular form and must fix its intellectual level so as not to be above the heads of the least intellectual of those to whom it is directed.

    The art of propaganda consists precisely in being able to awaken the imagination of the public through an appeal to their feelings, in finding the appropriate psychological form that will arrest the attention and appeal to the hearts of the national masses. The broad masses of the people are not made up of diplomats or professors of public jurisprudence nor simply of persons who are able to form reasoned judgment in given cases, but a vacillating crowd of human children who are constantly wavering between one idea and another.

    The great majority of a nation is so feminine in its character and outlook that its thought and conduct are ruled by sentiment rather than by sober reasoning. This sentiment, however, is not complex, but simple and consistent. It is not highly differentiated, but has only the negative and positive notions of love and hatred, right and wrong, truth and falsehood.

    Propaganda must not investigate the truth objectively and, in so far as it is favorable to the other side, present it according to the theoretical rules of justice; yet it must present only that aspect of the truth which is favorable to its own side.

    The receptive powers of the masses are very restricted, and their understanding is feeble. On the other hand, they quickly forget. Such being the case, all effective propaganda must be confined to a few bare essentials and those must be expressed as far as possible in stereotyped formulas. These slogans should be persistently repeated until the very last individual has come to grasp the idea that has been put forward.

    Every change that is made in the subject of a propagandist message must always emphasize the same conclusion. The leading slogan must of course be illustrated in many ways and from several angles, but in the end one must always return to the assertion of the same formula.”

    If you are one of the few who actually knows the author of that off the top of your head, keep it to yourself and let others be surprised when they do a little research and figure it out for themselves.

    I detest propaganda in all its ugly forms.

  5. Jack can you get rid of this “said, “ in the above comment at the beginning of the block where it currently says, “said, ‘Propaganda must always…” and then delete this comment?

  6. Students of Propcasting 101, take note. The Globe applies your “lessons.”

    For the rest of us, including us “truthers” who toil away in virtual anonymity, commenting on blogs and the like while holding down real jobs that actually produce good things, we have already schooled ourselves. And we have graduated with distinction that matters more than all the phony lauding that the ignorance-promoting propcasting “schools” confer on their graduates.

    The Globe, Trump…just two examples of amateurish psyops, for operators who can’t help but pat themselves on the back for exploiting weak minds.

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