The Department of Justice announced on Thursday that Robert D. Chain, a 68-year-old man from Encino, CA, had been arrested and charged with threatening to kill employees of the Boston Globe newspaper, allegedly using language mirroring that of President Donald Trump’s ongoing attacks against any and all media outlets he deems unfriendly.
According to the DOJ, the alleged threats began shortly after the Globe began coordinating a nationwide effort to push back on Trump’s increasingly bellicose rhetoric:
Chain began making threatening calls to the Boston Globe’s newsroom. In the calls, Chain referred to the Globe as “the enemy of the people” and threatened to kill newspaper employees. In total, it is alleged that Chain made approximately 14 threatening phone calls to the Globe between August 10 and 22, 2018.
It is further alleged that on Aug. 16, 2018, the day the coordinated editorial response was published in the Boston Globe, Chain called the Globe newsroom and threatened to shoot Globe employees in the head “later today, at 4 o’clock.” As a result of that call, local law enforcement responded to the Globe’s offices and maintained a presence outside the building to ensure the safety of the employees.
Transcripts of one of Chain’s calls show published as part of the criminal complaint against him show just how far down the rightcwing rabbit hole he’d fallen (emphasis mine):
In another recorded call, made on or about August 16, 2018, the date that the coordinated editorial was published, CHAIN stated:
You’re the enemy of the people, and we’re going to kill every fucking one of you. Hey, why don’t you call the F, why don’t you call Mueller, maybe he can help you out buddy. Still there faggot? Alright, why, you going to trace my call? What are you going to do motherfucker? You ain’t going to do shit. I’m going to shoot you in the fucking head later today, at 4 o’clock. Goodbye.
And one week later:
During one of the phone calls on or about August 22, 2018, a Boston Globe employee asked the male caller, later identified as CHAIN, why he was calling. The caller stated:
Because you are the enemy of the people, and I want you to go fuck yourself. As long as you keep attacking the President, the duly elected President of the United States, in the continuation of your treasonous and seditious acts, I will continue to threats, harass, and annoy the Boston Globe, owned by the New York Times, the other fake news.
The threats to journalists in America seem to be the rise. Chain’s arrest follows the shooting deaths of five employees at the Capital Gazette newspaper in Annapolis, MD, in June, after which Trump’s response was conspicuously muted. And earlier this year, the Reporters Without Borders watchdog group downgraded America’s position on their World Press Freedom index thanks to the “media-bashing enthusiast” Trump.
According to the DOJ, Chain is expected in to appear in a Los Angeles courtroom on Thursday afternoon, where he will be face one charge of making threatening communications in interstate commerce. He faces up to five years in prison, and fines up to a quarter of a million dollars.
The question now becomes: Where was he radicalized?