“Deportations To Begin.” “New libel law targets ‘absolute scum’ in press.” “Bank glitch halts border wall work.”
These headlines would have anyone look twice but in fact, these were satirical headlines published by the Boston Globe this past Sunday as part of the Sunday Globe. The mock front page was published to hypothesize what journalistic headlines would look like if Republican nominee Donald Trump won the 2016 presidential election and was roughly six months into his presidency.
The idea of satirical drawings and writing during presidential elections allows for the possibility to capitalize on the rhetoric against these candidates by exploiting key weaknesses of both parties. The latest instance of Trump being targeted reasserts our belief that these types of satirical statements influence the public perception of each of the candidates.
It is important, however, that these satirical pieces are analyzed properly for factual authenticity in terms of accurate portrayal of character. In the most recent instance with Trump, his angry response to the Boston Globe’s mock front page was absurd given that the headlines were based on quotes from his previous speeches. Trump’s response was erratic, as expected, when he commented on the page during a rally in Rochester, N.Y., calling it “stupid” and “worthless.”
The prevalence of satire in the heat before the presidential election is necessary to inform voters of the pivotal weaknesses in the candidates’ platforms. Fortunately though, these satirical pieces are experiencing a shift from print to electronic platforms, allowing for a wider audience to access this form of journalistic expression. According to the PEW Research Center, 46 percent of millennial voters receive their news from social media platforms, most of which lately are satires of Trump, Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders’ campaigns.
Online versions of satirical pieces change the game — now that these pieces are not only in print, but also online, they have the ability to become viral on a much larger scale and for a greater length of time. Trump’s greatest cause of discomfort likely stems from the reality that the Boston Globe’s mock front page will never go away since once something is dropped on the internet, its presence on there is permanent.
The shift also increases the ability to broaden the possibilities of satire, exhibited by the satirical nature of late night comedy shows, such as “The Late Show with Stephen Colbert,” in which Colbert enlisted animators to satirize Trump in cartoon form, exposing him and his recent blame game during Republican debates and in his speeches. As we push the limits of technology and expand on the rhetoric of presidential candidates, it will be up to us journalists to be the satirical scribes of 21st century politics.