A federal judge in Boston sentenced a California man to four months in prison on Wednesday for threatening to shoot and kill the employees of The Boston Globe.
The FBI arrested Robert D. Chain, 69, in August 2018 after he made 14 threatening phone calls to the Globe’s newsroom within the span of two weeks.
Chain, a resident of Encino, California, first contacted the Globe after the paper publicly urged other news organizations to join it in a coordinated response to the surge of political attacks on the news media, according to the FBI.
During that call and the others that followed, Chain called the Globe the “enemy of the people” and made violent and sexually explicit comments.
“We are going to shoot you motherfuckers in the head, you Boston Globe cocksuckers. Shoot every fucking one of you,” Chain told Globe employees in one recorded call, according to an FBI affidavit submitted to the court.
On Aug. 16, 2018, the same day that the Globe published its editorial highlighting political attacks on journalists, Chain told the paper’s employees that he was coming to the newsroom at a particular time to shoot them.
“What are you going to do motherfucker? You ain’t going to do shit,” the affidavit quotes him as saying. “I’m going to shoot you in the head later today, at 4 o’clock. Goodbye.”
In response to that specific threat, local law enforcement was called to the Globe’s building, according to the FBI.
Some of Chain’s slurs echo remarks made by President Donald Trump, who has attacked the news media ever since he launched his first campaign for the presidency. Trump repeatedly calls journalists the “enemy of the people” and often declares “fake news” while pointing directly at TV cameras during his rallies.
On Aug. 22, 2018, per the affidavit, Chain told the Globe he would continue his threats to the paper and “other fake news” if they continued their “treasonous and seditious acts” against Trump.
In 2017, Trump tweeted an edited video, originally recorded during an appearance on WrestleMania, showing him body-slamming another man whose head was now replaced by the CNN logo. In response, CNN said the video “encourages violence against reporters.”
In October of the following year, when a pipe bomb was sent to CNN, Trump said in a tweet that the “great anger” in the U.S. was caused by the “Fake News Media, the true Enemy of the People.”
In May 2019, Chain pleaded guilty to seven counts of making threatening communications in interstate commerce.
In addition to his four-month sentence behind bars, Chain has been ordered to serve three years of supervised release and pay a fine of $3,500. He must also pay restitution to the Globe in the amount of $16,512.
In court for his sentencing on Wednesday, Chain said that issuing those threats was “the worst decision I ever made” and that he hopes “people can forgive me,” the Globe reported.
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