Trump convicted: Divide clear in US media, Indian papers point to ‘polarising effect’

Trump’s media allies hit back in rage while the NYT pointed to attempts to ‘undermine legal system’.

WrittenBy:NL Team
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Donald Trump has become the first former American president to become a convicted felon after a New York jury convicted him on 34 felonies – linked to the falsifying of records to cover up a sex scandal that threatened to derail his 2016 presidential campaign.

Since the conviction does not deter him from running for president for another term, Indian papers noted the polarising effect it could have in the US.

“The court’s decision will intensify the polarisation in the American polity and test its resilience. Those who dislike Trump celebrate the first-ever conviction of a former president as a triumph of the principle that nobody in America is above the law. But Trump’s supporters see this as the blatant political targeting of a leader who promises to challenge the dominant American elites,” noted an editorial in The Indian Express.

An editorial in The Hindu noted that the “New York conviction does not bar Trump from continuing his run as a presidential candidate”. “Further, it is possible that, even if he is sentenced to time in prison in one or more of the criminal cases, he could govern from behind bars. The more troubling question relates to the polarising effect that his legal travails might have on the public discourse.”

In US, a polarised media 

Meanwhile, media  outfits on the right in the US have responded to the conviction by targeting the judiciary. American media watchdog Media Matters reported on several attacks on the justice system by Trump’s allies in the media. After Trump’s indictment and arraignment last March, the same outlets had claimed that he was the victim of a politicised persecution that made the US a “Third-World banana republic”.

Media Matters reported that Fox News stars and other MAGA media commentators slammed the historic conviction with “apocalyptic rhetoric and demands for retribution”.

“Since the charges were brought, they have worked hand in hand with the former president to run interference, denounce Trump’s foes, and shape the way the GOP base perceives the events, thus keeping the Republican Party squarely behind him. Over the last seven weeks, the MAGA media sought to delegitimise every aspect of the trial. They attacked the judge, jury, prosecutors, and witnesses while pushing an array of false claims about the case.”

Fox News co-host Jeanine Pirro claimed America had “gone over a cliff,” called the verdict “warfare,” and spoke of the country being “born of revolution”, it reported.

War Room host Stephen Bannon claimed that Trump’s convictions for falsifying business records to cover up his affair were an attack on his viewers: “It's not President Trump they're trying to destroy — they're trying to destroy you.” 

Meanwhile, a New York Times editorial pointed to Trump’s attempts to “undermine the legal system”. 

“Justice Merchan was scrupulous in ensuring that Mr. Trump received a fair trial. He refused, for example, to allow the jury to hear sensational material, such as audio from the “Access Hollywood” tape or subsequent allegations of sexual assault against Mr. Trump, that could have been prejudicial to his rights as a defendant. Yet throughout the trial, the judge was forced to deal with Mr. Trump’s attempts to undermine the legal system. To protect its integrity, Justice Merchan put a limit on what Mr. Trump could say to prevent him from attacking and threatening jurors, witnesses, court personnel and even the judge’s family. Mr. Trump repeatedly flouted that order and was fined $10,000 for contempt of court. Only the threat of a jail sentence finally seemed to keep Mr. Trump in line.”

The Washington Post also noted Trump’s attacks on the judge and his use of legal cases against him “to make a political case”. While Trump’s media allies used terms such as “banana republic”, an editorial in the paper noted that it wasn’t even the most important or legally compelling case against Trump.

“Momentous as the verdict feels, it comes in what was neither the most important nor the most legally compelling of the cases against Mr. Trump. Special counsel Jack Smith’s federal prosecution regarding Jan. 6, 2021, involving both the scheme to draw up fraudulent slates of electors and the insurrection at the U.S. Capitol, implicates an alleged assault on democracy. The Mar-a-Lago classified-documents case cuts to Mr. Trump’s unfitness to serve as commander in chief. The obstruction charge, covering Mr. Trump’s alleged efforts to mislead investigators about his retention of papers from the White House, seems clear-cut. Yet these cases remain unresolved, as Mr. Trump successfully persuaded various judges, and the Supreme Court, to consider time-consuming procedural issues. Thursday’s verdict, by contrast, involved a hush money payment scheme to an adult-film actress.”

Meanwhile, a BBC report pointed to the difference in global headlines surrounding the conviction. The Russian media attributed it to a bias within the American system ahead 0f elections, while German newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung decried the US political system and the lack of influence the conviction will have on Trump’s standing among Republicans.


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