In his typical fashion, Donald Trump lashed out against The Boston Globe for its satirical front cover published on Saturday, which depicted a hypothetical semi-apocalyptic world under President Trump. "How about that stupid Boston Globe? It's worthless, sold for a dollar," Trump said during a rally Sunday in Rochester, New York. "They pretended Trump is the president and they made up, the whole front page is a make-believe story, which is really no different from the whole paper. ... The whole thing is made up. ... They wrote a totally dishonest story, totally dishonest."
Besides apparently failing to understand how satire works, Trump also failed to make any actual counter-criticism against the claims within the project. According to a video released by the Globe, the editorial board pored through Trump's quotes, website, and position papers to develop the material for the piece, in order to accurately represent a future where Trump is president. The Globe's editorial board wrote several fake articles which showed drastically increased libel laws, a 6,500-point drop in the DOW Jones after Trump's proposed trade tariffs, and a mass deportation of the 11 million undocumented immigrants living in America, all within the first three months of his hypothetical presidency.
"It is an exercise in taking a man at his word. And his vision of America promises to be as appalling in real life as it is in black and white on the page," said the editorial board in an article published to accompany the project.
What's really interesting about Trump's response to the Globe is the relative lack of vigor behind the retaliation. Trump is known for escalating situations like this, such as when he responded to Sen. Elizabeth Warren's political criticism by attacking her Native American heritage, or his infamous "blood coming out of her wherever" comment following what Trump claimed was unfair treatment during the Republican debate hosted by Megyn Kelly. And this wasn't just an odd comment in an interview either — this was a serious attack on Trump's legitimacy as a candidate and his potential presidency. Yet his response is essentially proportional, even somewhat deescalating the story.
But even more than specifically attacking on Trump, the Globe seemed interested in sending a message to the Republican National Committee. "We want the Republican Party, as they head to their convention this summer, asking themselves tough questions. Do they share the vision for America that Donald Trump has? Are they willing to settle for a candidate almost as extreme in Ted Cruz?" explained Kathleen Kingsbury, the Globe's ideas section editor in a video released on the newspaper's Twitter page. "We want the Republican Party to figure out how to bring honor back to politics in America." The aim of the project is smart, since Trump's loyal base has thus far proven so impervious to criticism of its beloved candidate.
The project has certainly garnered a lot of attention, but if Trump's response is any indication, it doesn't really stand as much of a threat to his campaign, at least from the public perspective. Perhaps the Globe will accomplish its goal of persuading the Republican establishment to avoid a Trump presidency — the effectiveness of this stunt should become clear in a few months' time when the highly anticipated Republican National Convention finally begins in July.