US cable news offers competing versions of Trump trial | National

In the first-ever criminal trial of an American president, coverage on television networks was as divided as the watching nation.

For viewers tuning into Fox News, the case against Donald Trump is, according to the conservative broadcaster’s guests and hosts, “completely political” and as credible as a “Potemkin village.” The prosecution’s star witness, Michael Cohen, is “shady” and “notorious.”

“I can’t imagine that any competent lawyer at this point wouldn’t be ashamed of what happened in this courtroom,” conservative lawyer Jonathan Turley told Fox on Monday. “It is a great shame that this case has reached this point.”

That sounds a lot like what Trump himself said, almost shouting, after Monday’s court hearing, where he complained about the “corrupt” judge and the lack of a case.

The Republican presidential candidate is on trial in New York, accused of falsifying business records to conceal a hush money payment to porn star Stormy Daniels before the 2016 election, while her claims of a sexual encounter with him could have been politically fatal to his shock . victory over Hillary Clinton.

Much of the anger from Fox hosts and guests has focused on Cohen, whose testimony debuted Monday and who prosecutors say was crucial in the payment scheme.

But anyone watching the liberal broadcaster MSNBC could be forgiven for thinking they were watching coverage of an entirely different matter.

“I definitely think Cohen seems very credible,” one legal analyst told the audience.

Later, MSNBC panelists compared Trump to a mob boss for his efforts to “leave no paper trail.”

The lawsuit comes amid a fractured American media landscape that is increasingly catering to an exclusively liberal or conservative audience.

Hosts from broadcaster CNN — seen as more mainstream than Fox, though still accused of entitlement to liberal bias — wondered whether Cohen’s dark past as Trump’s personal fixer could help prosecutors.

“There’s something about a witness being willing to reveal how horrible they were to a jury. I assume (the jury) would take that into account,” Anderson Cooper said.

That was in stark contrast to Fox’s full-court press in Trump’s defense, with successive interviews with lawyers challenging Cohen’s credibility — including one who compared him to “OJ Simpson, Bernie Madoff and even Pinocchio.”

“He will come across as a liar in the great pantheon of liars in this country,” said attorney Andrew Stoltmann.

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CNN also reported that Trump closed his eyes in court on Monday — a common occurrence that has led his defense team to deny multiple reports that the ex-president fell asleep during the trial.

Those were details left out of the Fox broadcast, although it did air speeches from Republican senators outside the courtroom claiming the trial amounted to political interference.

“Joe Biden’s entire strategy is to use this sham trial to distract from inflation at home and war abroad,” said Senator JD Vance.

Biden’s Justice Department is not involved in the case, but Fox hosts did not pause the broadcast of the speech to correct it.

– Declining influence of the media? –

How influential media coverage of the case will be remains to be seen.

With live footage and audio banned from being broadcast directly from the courtroom, much of television reporting is based on accounts relayed to presenters by their courtroom colleagues, rather than gripping footage of the trial itself.

It’s heavily focused on legal minutiae and text updates from approved court reporters and is hardly made for TV viewing.

Meanwhile, social media and the internet continue to increase the power of traditional media – and the trial was no exception.

Trump boosters, including Vance and the former president’s son Eric, reached directly to their respective online audiences by posting live from the court on X, formerly Twitter.

“I’ve never seen anything more rehearsed!” the younger Trump posted as Cohen answered prosecutors’ questions.

Thousands of users liked the post, and presumably none of them watched the lawsuit itself.