The FBI on Thursday arrested a California man, allegedly upset about The Boston Globe’s editorials about President Trump, for threatening to kill the paper’s journalists.
Prosecutors say Robert Chain, 68, made threatening phone calls to the Globe’s newsroom after the newspaper asked other papers across the country to condemn what it called the “dirty war against the free press.”
On August 16, the day the editorials were published, Chain “told a Globe staffer that he was going to shoot employees in the head at 4 o’clock, according to court documents,” the Associated Press reported.
“After the editorials ran, authorities say Chain said he would continue threatening the Globe, The New York Times and ‘other fake news’ as long as they continue their ‘treasonous and seditious acts’ in attacking Trump,” the AP said.
“In the calls, Chain referred to the Globe as ‘the enemy of the people’ and threatened to kill newspaper employees,’’ prosecutors wrote in a statement, according to the Globe. “In total, it is alleged that Chain made approximately 14 threatening phone calls to the Globe between August 10 and August 22, 2018.”
Trump has called “fake news” the “enemy of the people.” He frequently complains about coverage on networks like CNN and NBC, along with newspapers like The New York Times and The Washington Post.
Trump was enraged when the Globe led an effort to chastise him for his views on the press, writing on Twitter, “The Boston Globe, which was sold to the the Failing New York Times for 1.3 BILLION DOLLARS (plus 800 million dollars in losses & investment), or 2.1 BILLION DOLLARS, was then sold by the Times for 1 DOLLAR. Now the Globe is in COLLUSION with other papers on free press. PROVE IT!”
On August 16, more than 300 newspapers across the U.S. ran anti-Trump editorials in an effort coordinated by the Globe. The Globe’s own piece set the tone of what the editorials were all about.
“Replacing a free media with a state-run media has always been a first order of business for any corrupt regime taking over a country. Today in the United States we have a president who has created a mantra that members of the media who do not blatantly support the policies of the current U.S. administration are the ‘enemy of the people.’ This is one of the many lies that have been thrown out by this president much like an old-time charlatan threw out ‘magic’ dust or water on a hopeful crowd,” the Globe wrote.
After the arrest, U.S. Attorney Andrew E. Lelling, a Trump appointee, put out a statement.
“Anyone — regardless of political affiliation — who puts others in fear for their lives will be prosecuted by this office,’’ Lelling said. “In a time of increasing political polarization, and amid the increasing incidence of mass shootings, members of the public must police their own political rhetoric. Or we will.”
The head of the Boston FBI office, Special Agent in Charge Harold H. Shaw, said Chain’s alleged actions “should not be dismissed as a harmless prank,” the Globe reported.
“Everyone has a right to express their opinion, but threatening to kill people, takes it over the line and will not be tolerated,” he said in a statement, adding that the arrest of Chain should be considered a warning.
“Making threats is not a prank, it’s a federal crime. All threats are taken seriously, as we never know if the subject behind the threat intends to follow through with their actions,’’ he said. “Whether potentially [a] hoax or not, each and every threat will be aggressively run to ground.”