How Partisan Media Outlets Covered Trump’s Guilty Verdict


Partisan news media’s reaction to the historic conviction of former President Donald J. Trump was swift.

Conservative websites and commentators blasted the verdict as a sham, intensifying and escalating the attacks on the prosecution and the judge that they lobbed throughout the seven-week criminal trial in Manhattan. Several websites misleadingly referred to the trial as “rigged” and “corrupt.”

Liberal outlets, though, couldn’t quite agree on what to make of the verdict, even if they broadly welcomed it. While some mocked Mr. Trump for the potential loss of his right to vote in November’s election, several outlets also called the verdict “unsatisfying” and potentially “irrelevant.”

Here is how a selection of outlets covered the same verdict:

The Daily Wire, a conservative site, was not shy about its disapproval of the verdict. “Trump Found Guilty. Pray for the Republic,” was the headline of one story by Ben Shapiro, the site’s founder and editor emeritus.

Mr. Shapiro, who went live on his podcast after the verdict, said it was “a terrible day for the country” and that “this was the weakest of the charges” against the former president. Mr. Shapiro went on to claim falsely that Mr. Trump was “convicted of crimes that don’t exist.” Mr. Trump was convicted of falsifying business records related to so-called hush-money payments to the porn actress Stormy Daniels.

Yet Mr. Shapiro and his guest Michael Knowles said the verdict would serve Mr. Trump well in the November general election.

“I think you are going to see an enormous consolidation around Trump, certainly people who were lukewarm on Trump,” Mr. Shapiro said, including supporters of the former candidates Nikki Haley and Ron DeSantis, the governor of Florida.

The Daily Wire’s Matt Walsh, a columnist who supports Mr. Trump, went further, calling on him to weaponize the presidency for retribution should he win the 2024 election. He “should make and publish a list of 10 high-ranking Democrat criminals who he will have arrested when he takes office,” Mr. Walsh wrote on X.

Credit…The National Review

A conservative outlet that has often been critical of Mr. Trump, The National Review’s homepage headline on Thursday night read, “Yes, It Was Rigged.” In the article, editor in chief Rich Lowry misleadingly claimed every level of the trial was biased against Mr. Trump, including the judge’s handling of the case and the prosecution’s presentation of the charges. He said it was all aimed to hurt Mr. Trump’s chances in the November election.

In an editorial titled “The Horrendous Trump Verdict” posted Friday morning, the editors of The National Review blamed Alvin Bragg, the Manhattan district attorney, for “selective prosecution,” suggesting without evidence that he targeted Mr. Trump and relied on “an embarrassingly compliant” judge.

Mr. Bragg, they wrote, became “the first prosecutor in the history of the country to abuse his office in hopes of damaging an opposition presidential candidate ahead of a national election.”

Credit…The New Republic

The liberal outlet The New Republic celebrated the verdict with stories that mocked Mr. Trump’s bad day in court. “Convicted Felon Trump Forced to Beg Most Embarrassing Ally for Help,” was the headline of one article, which joked that Mr. Trump would need the help of Governor Ron DeSantis of Florida, where Mr. Trump has primary residency, to vote in November. (It is unclear whether he will be able to vote — if he is in prison at the time of the election, he would not be.) Another called Mr. Trump’s discussion with reporters after the verdict a “wild rant.”

But the writer Alex Shephard said the outcome didn’t go far enough, in an essay titled “Why Trump’s Historic Conviction Is So Unsatisfying.” Mr. Trump was not on trial for his worst misdeeds, Mr. Shephard wrote, and he remained the polling leader in the November election against President Biden. That was unlikely to change, Mr. Shephard said, because so many Americans supported Mr. Trump through all of his previous scandals.

“It is hard to imagine that a conviction — even a felony conviction — on paying hush money to an adult film actress would change that,” Mr. Shephard wrote.

The Nation, a left-leaning website, cheered Mr. Trump’s conviction with an essay headlined “The Greatest Liar of All Time Gets a Criminal Conviction,” which also referred to Mr. Trump as the “disgraced, twice-impeached former president.”

But in another essay on the site, with the headline “Why the Election Is the Trump Verdict That Really Matters,” the publisher and former editor Katrina vanden Heuvel wrote the trial’s outcome would be immaterial should President Biden lose to Mr. Trump in November.

“The verdicts in the cases will be irrelevant,” she wrote. “If he is defeated, that verdict will do more to inform the future behavior of presidents than any of the court cases.”



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