Robert D. Chain described the newspaper as “fake news” and the “enemy of the people” in a series of phone calls this month, according to court filings by the U.S. attorney’s office in Massachusetts. The 68-year-old California man is charged with a single count of making threatening communications in interstate commerce.
Chain’s campaign of harassment began after the Globe organized an editorial campaign with other newspapers earlier this month. The Globe’s efforts pushed back against President Donald Trump’s efforts to discredit American news outlets and single out journalists as political opponents. In an August 16 phone call, Chain effectively proved the Globe’s point by quoting the president while threatening to shoot Globe reporters in the “fucking head.”
You’re the enemy of the people, and we’re going to kill every fucking one of you. Hey, why don’t you call the F, why don’t you call [special counsel Robert] Mueller, maybe he can help you out buddy. Still there faggot? Alright, why, you going to trace my call? What are you going to do motherfucker? You ain’t going to do shit. I’m going to shoot you in the fucking head later today, at 4 o’clock. Goodbye.
Trump frequently describes American journalists as the “enemy of the people,” a phrase that’s most commonly associated with the Soviet Union’s repression of political opponents in the mid-twentieth century. Chain told a Globe employee during an August 22 call that he would “continue to threats [sic], harass, and annoy” the Globe for its perceived hostility towards the president.
Because you are the enemy of the people, and I want you to go fuck yourself. As long as you keep attacking the president, the duly elected president of the United States, in the continuation of treasonous and seditious act, I will continue to threats [sic], harass, and annoy the Boston Globe, owned by the New York Times, the other fake news.
In the Globe editorial, which ran on August 15, the newspaper’s editorial board defended American journalists and their role in a free, open society. “To label the press ‘the enemy of the people’ is as un-American as it is dangerous to the civic compact we have shared for more than two centuries,” the paper said. As Chain’s case suggests, the phrase is dangerous to individual journalists, too.