Viewpoints

Ruben Navarrette: Trump satire shows newspaper’s hypocrisy

SAN DIEGO – Newspapers ought to focus on doing good journalism, and leave the satire to professionals.

Just look at the ruckus that ensued when The Boston Globe created a mock front-page postdated a year from now, in April 2017. Running this past Sunday in the paper’s “Ideas” section, and put together by the editorial board, the parody imagined what the world might be like if Donald Trump were elected president.

In what could have been called the newspaper’s doomsday edition, the page’s headlines included: “U.S. soldiers refuse orders to kill ISIS families” and “Markets sink as trade war looms.”

In the lower left-hand corner, there was a note that read: “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.”

Trump supporters were more troubled by the stunt. Many of those who called into conservative radio shows condemned it as unfair, biased and needlessly provocative. Conservative media watchdogs called the whole idea “sophomoric” and “absurd.”

The candidate was certainly outraged. During a rally Sunday in upstate New York, Trump tore into the newspaper.

“How about that stupid Boston Globe,” Trump said to the crowd. He noted that the newspaper had, four years ago, been sold for a fraction of what it had been worth a couple of decades earlier.

The billionaire called the newspaper “totally dishonest” and essentially claimed that there wasn’t a shred of truth in anything that was printed.

“The whole front page is a make-believe story, which is really no different from the whole paper, the whole thing,” Trump said. “I mean the whole thing is made up.”

Well, not quite. Many of these farcical stories were rooted in things that Trump has said, promises he has made, or policies he has proposed. He has to own that. It’s long past time that he takes responsibility for what comes out of his mouth.

Honestly, I was glad that the satire made Trump supporters and other conservatives squirm. They’re entitled to support whomever they like for president, but they should be forced to confront the likely consequences of their choice. If those who support Trump are uncomfortable with seeing his proposals down on paper in black and white, this should tell them something. Maybe they need to take another look at whom they’re supporting.

But that doesn’t mean the parody was a good idea. It wasn’t.

What made me most uncomfortable was the banner headline: “DEPORTATIONS TO BEGIN.”

This was journalistic laziness at its worst. The editorial board wanted to suggest that, if Trump were president, homes would be raided and scores of undocumented immigrants would be rounded up and deported. As if that isn’t already happening, under the president we have now – a president whom, by the way, this same editorial board endorsed in both 2008 and 2012. Talk about a lack of self-awareness.

What happened to challenging readers by digging deeper into a story? When you do that in the immigration debate, you will, before long, run across something the left doesn’t talk about – blue-collar union members who oppose immigration because they fear it costs jobs and lowers wages, and the Democratic politicians who cater to that fear by discreetly undermining reform efforts when everyone is distracted by the outrageous things that Republicans are saying.

Rather than worry about what could happen under a President Trump, the Globe should be concerned about what has actually happened to immigrants under President Obama.

It’s not like it’s a secret. In a recent interview in the Globe, Pulitzer Prize-winning writer Junot Diaz was asked what has most disappointed him about the Obama presidency. His response: “The fact that he deported everyone and their grandmother.”

I monitor the immigration debate, and I take note of who is writing what. While I often see editorials in The Washington Post and The New York Times condemning the administration for its heavy-handed approach to immigration enforcement – which includes nearly 3 million deportations in the last seven and a half years, and hundreds of thousands of families that have been divided – I have only seen a few such editorials in the Globe.

Now, all of a sudden, the Globe’s editorial board is concerned about immigrants? Why? Because it gives its members the chance to poke at Trump. Thanks for nothing, folks.

Ruben Navarrette’s email address is ruben@rubennavarrette.com.

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