Back in February, angry about press coverage of his presidency, Donald Trump took the extraordinary step of labeling certain members of the press “the enemy of the American people.”
He has repeated the accusation ten times, most recently on Thursday morning:
Anyone could see that this is a dangerous tactic from a president who commands the hearts and minds of a very impressionable subset of American voters. After all, if somebody is the “enemy of the people,” what should happen to them? Arrest, at the very least—the words imply treason.
It was only a matter of time before some of Trump's supporters took him at his word. On Thursday, a 68-year-old man named Robert Chain was arrested for making threats to the Boston Globe following the paper's push to coordinate national editorials fighting back against Trump's press attacks. Per CNBC:
The threats started Aug. 10, the day the Globe announced that it would be coordinating editorials from papers around the country to “protect free press from Trump attacks.”
More than 300 publications published editorials on Aug. 16 as part of the project, according to a tally from the Globe. That day, Chain allegedly threatened to shoot Globe employees in the head, “later today, at 4 o'clock.”
Like Trump, Robert Chain used the words “enemy of the people,” and that was far from the most disturbing part of his threats against the paper:
Chain made more than a dozen calls like this since Aug. 10. He will appear in federal court in Los Angeles Thursday, and is expected to be transferred to Boston.
This should put an emphatic end to any notion that Trump’s language is “harmless.”