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Trump Trial: Why Only Election Verdict Matters



Donald Trump has been found guilty on all 34 charges in his hush money trial. He is the first former US president to be criminally convicted and faces sentencing on July 11 - four days before the start of the Republican National Convention where he will be formally adopted as the party’s candidate for president.

 

Trump has been found to have falsified business records to conceal payments over an alleged affair with the porn star Stormy Daniels. Speaking after the verdict, for the first time as a convicted felon, Trump said: “The real verdict is going to be November 5 by the people." His reference to November is about the forthcoming US presidential election.

 

Ultimately, it is the voters who will deliver the final verdict on Trump. If he is elected, any court verdicts against him will become irrelevant and likely nullified through presidential pardon. If he is defeated, that electoral verdict will significantly influence the future behavior of presidents more than any court decision could.

 

This reality highlights the perils of the 24/7 media coverage of Trump and his trials. The press, once again, is enabling Trump to dominate the news cycle. Trump, a corrupt businessman who has crafted a persona as a rebel taking on a corrupt establishment, capitalizes on this attention to portray himself as a victim and a champion of the betrayed majority.

 

While a former president on trial was undoubtedly newsworthy, the media could strive for more balanced coverage. Equal airtime should be devoted to Biden’s campaign.


The media should report on the ramifications of Trump’s agenda - such as the chaos and costs associated with his pledge to deport 10 million undocumented workers, the consequences of four more years of climate change denial, his plans to dismantle the civil service, and his corrupt promises to Big Oil in exchange for campaign contributions.

 

The excuse that such trials attract viewers and generate revenue is understandable from a business perspective. However, the rest of society may end up bearing the cost of this media-driven spectacle. The election, not the court trials, will be the true determinant of Trump’s accountability. Voters must recognize the stakes and make their decision based on the broader implications for America’s future.

 

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