Doing a front-page spread about Donald Trump’s alleged racism is the highlight of the Boston Globe’s year. But this cover, comprising three articles and eight photos, should be seen in the context of another full-page spread, the one before the election, which was a giant editorial trying to scare voters into supporting Hillary Clinton. The Globe lost any remaining non-partisan credibility that day.
I won’t spend a lot of time defending president Trump’s most recent tweets, because they were factually incorrect and sloppy. While I do not think he is a racist, he could have made the same points with just a few small modifications and avoided the entire firestorm. Had he clarified that the Congresswomen should visit the countries their families originated from, people would have understood his point and he didn’t need to make it personal. I don’t know if he prefers the controversy, or if he needs to have his team fact-check his missives before he presses send, or if he figures his shoot-from-the-hip style has served him well overall so why fix something that isn’t broken.
But the Globe’s decision to turn this incident into another (nearly) full-page indictment against Trump is wrong. Whatever Trump says or does does not and cannot excuse the Globe’s dropping it’s professional journalistic obligations to objectivity.
When the Boston Globe decides to be a participant in partisan politics instead of a neutral observer, it loses its credibility. It doesn’t just lose readers who disagree with its political viewpoint, it even makes readers who agree less trusting. Liberals may love the fact that the Globe is anti-Trump every day, but they also must know that biased coverage is not going to be accurate or balanced.
Less than 50% of independents and just 21% of Republicans trust the media. But the trust among Democrats is not 100%, it is just 76%. So the media gets bad marks and this is why. (See https://news.gallup.com/poll/243665/media-trust-continues-recover-2016-low.aspx).
How could the Globe have covered this fairly? It could put a box showing Trump’s past controversial statements next to each of the Congresswoman’s past controversial statements.
It could also stop using Democrats’ talking points as facts. A good example is the headline of the lead article, “Lawmakers decry Trump, vow to fight policies of hate.” What are Trump’s “policies of hate?” Having a secure border? Give me a break. Any objective journalist or editor would have left off those last two pejorative words.
It could also have taken much more care to be accurate. Several of the summaries run by the Globe are not correct, and showing a Nazi flag on the front cover is a smear. Some will see that and think Trump is a white supremacist. (Oops, I guess the cat is out of the bag. Maybe next time, the Globe can print the swastika above the fold, right next to Trump’s picture.)
For example, the very first “incendiary words” of Trump were, according to the Globe, calling “Mexican immigrants ‘rapists’ who are ‘bringing crime’ and ‘bringing drugs.'” Some (some) of the illegal aliens crossing our border fit that description, and Trump very clearly said he was referring to some of the illegals. Not being able to vet who enters the country is going to let in some bad folks.
Another example is the Globe’s claim that Trump said Obama was the founder of ISIS. In context, he said that Obama’s policies had allowed ISIS to exist and flourish, and thus it was like he founded it. This is Trump’s opinion and it isn’t crazy, it is probably true.
Another example is the Charlottesville march, which the Globe purposely mischaracterizes. There were fine people on both sides…on the issue if civil war statues should be removed.
One funny note: I love it how the Globe snuck Elizabeth Warren’s photo in the collection as an example of Trump’s racism. Calling Warren out for lying about her Native American heritage is now a racist act! Warren may have no minority blood, but she can use the race card just like the best.
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