In April 2016, the Boston Globe bravely ran a hypothetical front page that imagined headlines in the Trump presidency. “Deportations set to begin” was the main headline. They have begun — and Trump is now threatening asylum seekers with soldiers after already separating toddlers from their parents. “Markets sink as trade war looms”; that headline, too, has happened. “New libel law targets ‘absolute scum’ in the press,” reads a third hypothetical headline. Trump has called reporters “scum” (and has repeatedly demanded stricter libel laws that would enable him to silence his media critics). Yet not even the Globe would have predicted that Trump has continued using Stalinist rhetoric to demonize the press just days after a rabid Trump supporter reportedly sent CNN pipe bombs.
In April 2016, the Globe’s editorial stunt was decried by Republicans on sites like the Drudge Report as alarmist hyperbole. Trump called it a “make believe story” that was “stupid” and “worthless.” But those headlines were written precisely as a sort of worst-case scenario that used hyperbole to scare people out of complacency. Two years later, it doesn’t look like exaggeration at all. It looks like our Trumpian reality.