The Boston Globe is the first newspaper I ever read, admittedly because it long had (no more, alas) the best sports section in the country. Even after fate took me away from my beloved home town and deposited me, apparently forever, in Washington, D.C., I continued to subscribe. Many times, notably when the paper’s special investigative unit blew the top off of the city’s deep and long-rotting child molestation scandal among its Catholic priests, leading to the exposure of the unimaginable world-wide scandal that went all the way to the Vatican, the paper validated my loyalty and admiration.
But political bias was always the Globe’s Achilles Heel. The editorial staff was a Kennedy family lapdog, and this metastasized into knee-jerk Democratic Party support even when it could not be logically justified. Eventually, it was obvious that the paper’s ethics alarms, if not dead, were barely pinging. in April of 2016, the paper suffered a crippling Donald Trump-sparked nervous breakdown, turning itself into a print version of Orson Welles’ “War of the Worlds.” It featured a phony front page —a portent of the fake news to come, but not just at the Globe—showing the dystopian future that awaited in the hopefully alternate dystopian universe where Trump was elected President:
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….
“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.
(Gee, I really called the news media’s eventual total abandonment of journalism ethics, didn’t I? Where are my bouquets? My Pulitzer?)
That was the end of my regular reading of the Boston Globe. This is the end of my regarding it as a newspaper. The correct term is “rag.” Come to think of it, that may be an insult to rags.
Yesterday, the Globe editors allowed Luke O’Neil, a periodic contributor, to author an op-ed in which he expressed regret for “not pissing” on conservative pundit Bill Kristol’s food when O’Neil waited on him years ago, and encouraged today’s waiters to “tamper” with the food of outgoing Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen, and, by innuendo, any other Trump administration officials they encountered:
“As for the waiters out there, I’m not saying you should tamper with anyone’s food, as that could get you into trouble. You might lose your serving job. But you’d be serving America. And you won’t have any regrets years later.”
Imagine this kind of incitement to violence against public officials being published in a respectable paper at any other time in our nation’s history. You can’t, can you? One reason is that in no other time had the foundation been laid by a party’s elected officials advocating the harassment of opposing party members when they appeared in restaurants. Another is that at no previous time has another prestigious paper targeted a child for humiliation and abuse because he dared to wear a cap supporting the President of the United States.
A third is that never before has the profession of journalism been in the midst of a suicidal dive to oblivion.
The ethics alarms of others rang loudly enough that the Globe editors, or more likely a fearful publisher, heard the din. What followed then was a sequence of stealth edits on the Globe website. The editors added this note:
“A version of this column as originally published did not meet Globe standards and has been changed. The Globe regrets the previous tone of the piece.”
That first part was a lie: if the editors had standards any more, the piece would never have run at all. They lost their journalism standards, just like the Times, the Post, CNN and the rest, and quite some time ago. The second part? I’m sure they regret the previous tone—you know, as in “poison people whose political views you don’t like.” It’s probably going to be harder to dish out propaganda when a news source’s readers know its management thinks this way.
The section about “pissing” now read,
Oh..defiling someone’s food is much, much better! See, when you have no functioning ethics alarms, it’s really difficult to know how to fix your ethics blunders. It didn’t take long for someone to point out that the edit wasn’t an improvement, so the piece was edited again, this time to say that one of the biggest regrets of O’Neil’s life was “serving Bill Kristol salmon and not telling the neoconservative pundit and chief Iraq War cheerleader what I really thought about him.” The section about tampering with the food of Trump officials was also changed; now it endorsed the tactics of Maxine Waters and Rebecca Mankey:
“And when they show up in our restaurants, you have my permission, as an official member of the mainstream media, to tell them where to go and what they can do with themselves when they arrive there, but, you know, said in a more specific and traditional Boston colloquialism.”
But that’s not what O’Neil wrote, so this is the Globe giving permission to harass Republicans in public. And I like “our” restaurants. Nice. Those with opposing views aren’t welcome in Boston, the one-time cradle of liberty.
Now the Globe has pulled down the piece all together.
Anyone who reads, quotes or trusts this paper after this is an idiot.