In April 2016, the Boston Globe’s opinion section published a controversial satirical front page. The front page imagined what a real Globe front page might look like a year later if Donald Trump were elected president. Some thought it went too far and risked misleading people — Trump himself called it “stupid” — while others noted it hewed pretty closely to what Trump himself was talking about on the campaign trail.
A little more than three years later, the front page some labeled “disturbing” has proven pretty darn prescient.
The current headline atop The Washington Post’s homepage — “Trump vows mass immigration arrests, removals of ‘millions of illegal aliens’ starting next week” — is perhaps the closest manifestation to date of the “DEPORTATIONS TO BEGIN” banner headline on the Globe’s fake front page.
And that’s not the only similarity. Let’s run through the parallels, starting with what the Globe’s fake front page said.
“DEPORTATIONS TO BEGIN”
“PRESIDENT TRUMP has set in motion one of his most controversial campaign promises, calling on Congress to fund a 'massive deportation force’ by tripling the number of federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents,” the fake Globe’s top story begins
What it got right: Trump has indeed previously called for a tripling of ICE agents (though that was something he previewed as early as 2015), and now he’s apparently set in motion a massive deportation force. He even used the phrase “Deportation Task Force” in his late 2016 immigration platform.
What hasn’t happened: The Globe’s story included allusions to “riots” and “curfews” that have not taken place.
“Markets sink as trade war looms”
The second headline describes “worldwide stocks” plunging ahead of Trump’s threatened trade wars with China and Mexico.
What it got right: Trump has launched a large-scale trade war with China and recently threatened Mexico with escalating tariffs that even his own Republican Party worried were too punitive. Even the numbers the Globe used — 45 percent for China and 35 percent for Mexico — aren’t too divorced from reality. Trump recently increased tariffs on Chinese goods to 25 percent and is threatening to expand the goods affected by $300 billion. In Mexico, Trump said the initial tariff would be 5 percent but that it would rise by 5 percent monthly until it was as high as 25 percent, if Mexico didn’t stop the flow of migrants headed to the U.S.-Mexico border.
The trade war has also accompanied a slowdown in the previously fast-growing U.S. stock market. And just as the Globe story says a “global recession now seems possible,” economists, including at Morgan Stanley, say a further escalation in the trade war with China could result in just that.
What hasn’t happened: But the trade wars haven’t resulted in the “worst month on record” for global stocks, as the Globe story said, nor does it seem likely China will begin unloading U.S. Treasurys any time soon.
Border wall construction halts, Mexico refuses to pay
“Construction on the new border wall with Mexico stopped suddenly on Friday, dealing a major setback to one of President Trump’s key campaign promises, after Mexico refused to pay,” the Globe said.
What it got right: Mexico still hasn’t paid for the wall, and Congress wouldn’t sign off on it, so Trump declared a national emergency. That’s not exactly what the Globe said, but it’s close enough. The border wall has also suffered setbacks in court.
What hasn’t happened: The Globe report cites a “bank glitch” as the cause.
“Trump on Nobel prize short list”
What it got right: Trump was indeed nominated for a Nobel Prize, for his talks with North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un. Trump said Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe was behind it, but Abe wouldn’t confirm that.
What hasn’t happened: There is no indication he was on any kind of shortlist. (Also, the Globe’s fake front page curiously said his feat was healing “a 1,385-year-old schism between Sunni and Shi’ite Muslims” — which would truly be an accomplishment. Perhaps it meant that he united them against him?)
“US soldiers refuse orders to kill ISIS families”
What it got right: Trump also previewed this strategy in 2015, and there is some evidence it might have happened in Syria. According to The Post’s Greg Jaffe, Trump once watched a previously recorded video of a CIA drone strike against a target in Syria. When told the strike waited for the target to move away from his home, where is family was, Trump said, “Why did you wait?” according to one participant in the meeting.
What hasn’t happened: There are no reports of Trump directly ordering this or soldiers declining to obey.
A few others
“NASA engineers halted the launch of an unmanned probe amid fears that its new gold leaf trim would interfere with radio communications”: Trump’s launch of a so-called Space Force has been derided by critics as frivolous.
“Japanese Emperor Akihito formally censured Ambassador Kid Rock for a speech calling on US allies to ‘Let the [expletive] business guy run the [expletive] country like a [expletive] business'”: Kid Rock is not an ambassador, though others have ruffled feathers overseas.
“New libel law targets ‘absolute scum’ in press”: Trump has upped his anti-media rhetoric since the 2016 campaign, even regularly calling it the “enemy of the people.” He has also continued to talk about opening up libel laws — including in prepared remarks — but hasn’t taken concrete steps. (It’s also difficult to believe even a GOP-controlled Congress would pass such a bill.)
“Trump tweeted out a photo of his new pet sharpei, a wrinkly puppy named Madame Peng”: Trump said this year that he doesn’t have any time for dogs.