U.S. Press Freedom Tracker

Man arrested after threatening to shoot and kill Boston Globe staffers

Incident Details

REUTERS/Brian Snyder

The Aug. 16, 2018, edition of the Boston Globe newspaper is seen on a newsstand in Massachusetts, with a front-page editorial defending press freedom.

— REUTERS/Brian Snyder
October 2, 2019 - Update

Man who threatened Globe newsroom sentenced to prison, fined

A California man was sentenced to prison on Oct. 2, 2019, and must pay a fine, after pleading guilty to sending threatening messages to Boston Globe employees in 2018, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office in Massachusetts.

Robert Chain’s violent threats to shoot and kill newsroom employees began on Aug. 10, 2018, when the Globe announced a plan for a coordinated editorial response to political attacks on the media by then-President Donald Trump. After making approximately 14 threatening phone calls to the Globe newsroom over nearly two weeks, Chain was arrested and charged on Aug. 30 by federal prosecutors in Boston.

Chain pleaded guilty in May 2019 to seven counts of making threatening communications in interstate commerce. In October, he was sentenced by U.S. District Court Judge William G. Young to four months in prison, three years of supervised release and ordered to pay a fine of $3,500 and restitution in the amount of $16,512 to the Globe.

The Globe did not respond to a request for comment by the U.S. Press Freedom Tracker.

April 22, 2019 - Update

Chain to plead guilty to threatening Boston Globe journalists

Robert Chain, arrested in August 2018 on the federal charge of making interstate threats, will plead guilty "to threatening to kill journalists at The Boston Globe over the newspaper’s criticism of President Donald Trump," The Associated Press reported on April 22, 2019.

Chain's attorney said that his client will plead guilty to all counts against him and take responsibility for his actions. A plea hearing is scheduled for May 15.

August 30, 2018

On Aug. 30, 2018, the FBI arrested a man in California who allegedly made repeated threats to kill employees of the Boston Globe newspaper.

Robert Chain allegedly made 12 threatening calls to the Boston Globe newsroom between Aug. 10-17, and two more on Aug. 22.

The calls began on Aug. 10, the same day that the Globe announced a plan for newspapers across the country to simultaneously publish editorials on Aug. 16 standing up for press freedom and criticizing President Donald Trump's relentless attacks on the press.

During the calls, Chain allegedly threatened to shoot and kill the paper's employees. He also repeated Trump's anti-media talking points, referring to the Globe as "the enemy of the people" and "fake news."

"We are going to shoot you motherfuckers in the head, you Boston Globe cocksuckers," Chain said in an Aug. 13 call, according to court documents. "Shoot every fucking one of you."

On Aug. 16, Trump attacked the Globe on Twitter, criticizing the paper for "COLLUSION with other papers on free press" and mentioning that it was once purchased by The New York Times company.

Later that day, Chain made another threatening call to the Globe.

"You're the enemy of the people, and we're going to kill every fucking one of you ... I'm going to shoot you in the fucking head later today, at 4 o'clock," he allegedly said.

When Chain called the Globe again on Aug. 22, one of the paper's employees asked Chain why he kept calling and threatening them.

"Because you are the enemy of the people, and I want you to go fuck yourself," he allegedly said. "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 [make] threats, harass, and annoy the Boston Globe, owned by The New York Times, the other fake news."

After reviewing firearms records, the FBI found that Chain owns multiple guns and had purchased a new rifle in May 2018.

Chain is charged with one count of making interstate threats, a federal crime.

The U.S. Press Freedom Tracker catalogues press freedom violations in the United States. Email tips to [email protected].