Trump on Trial: Media Pushes for Transparency in Courtroom

The establishment media never much cared about the ban on camera coverage in federal courtrooms, despite a whole host of very prominent defendants over the years.

When Donald J. Trump is involved, however, the media apparatus couldn’t be more in unison when it comes to clamoring about the unfairness of it all.

In a brief filed on Thursday, a whole host of broadcasters and media outlets — ABC News, the Los Angeles Times, Univision, The Washington Post, Politico, C-SPAN and a multitude of others — “respectfully submit[ted] this Application for leave to record and telecast the March 2024 criminal trial of former President Donald J. Trump.”

“Alternatively, the Media Coalition respectfully requests that the Court that the Court contemporaneously publish on YouTube its internally administered audiovisual livestreams and recordings of the proceedings,” the filing read.

“As a final alternative, the Media Coalition respectfully requests that the Court release visual and audio recordings of proceedings at the conclusion of each day that this matter is heard in Court.”

The reason given in the application, of course, is the historic nature of a former president and the current front-runner for the GOP nomination in 2024 being put on trial effectively for his actions leading up to the Capitol incursion on Jan. 6, 2021.

“We have never, in the history of our Nation, had a federal criminal trial that warrants audiovisual access more than the federal prosecution of former President Trump for allegedly trying to subvert the will of the people,” the brief read.

“The prosecution of a former president, now a presidential contender, on charges of subverting the electoral process, presents the strongest possible circumstances for continuous public oversight of the justice system.”

However, as The Hill noted, this is essentially “asking for an unprecedented shift in the federal court system.”

“Long-standing federal court precedent bars televising the hearings or recording them in any fashion,” the outlet noted.

“Some lawmakers have pushed for a change in federal court system rules that prohibit the practice, but such a process would likely take years.”

And since “years” clearly isn’t going to happen before March 4, the so-called Media Coalition is going to bang on about the momentous nature of the event.

Steven Brill, who founded Court TV and now serves as co-CEO of the media ratings system NewsGuard, said televising the trial would stop malinformation, misinformation, disinformation and cisinformation from taking hold.

“I think what we’ve seen for the last X number of years is that people are not debating from the same set of facts,” Brill told NPR. “Everything’s an opinion. Nothing’s a fact. Nobody believes anything.

“What you see online, you have no idea how credible it is, who the source is, who’s paying them to say something – the total opposite of what happens in a courtroom, where all the evidence is vetted, lawyers are bound by standards of conduct where they can’t just voice their opinions,” Brill said.

“They can’t introduce hearsay or rumors. That’s what the world needs to see in this trial because we’re going to be debating this trial forever.”

How having a camera in a courtroom is going to stop people from having an opinion about the proceedings is anyone’s guess; whatever happens will invariably be filtered through the media organs that Brill surveys, none of which — save perhaps C-SPAN — can truly claim even an attempt at non-partisanship, much less actual objectivity.

Brill also argued that “trials, as a general matter, you know, constitutionally, were always meant to be public.” Which it will be: just likely without cameras in the courtroom. Given that this is the first federal trial that would be streamed or recorded, this is hardly how it was “always meant” to be.

The Media Coalition, meanwhile, says that the ban on cameras relies on “outdated and long disproven views about recording and broadcasting trials” — something few if any of these media organs go to court to challenge on any sort of regular basis, so there’s that.

Only the momentous and consequential nature of putting a former president on trial makes these arguments even slightly holds up — and then, you have to consider the why behind this all.

When it comes to the potential divisiveness and media spectacle of a televised trial event, particularly when sociopolitical aspect is in play, some of us are old enough to remember the 11 months between November of 1994 and October of 1995 when Orenthal James Simpson was on trial for allegedly murdering his ex-wife and a waiter. O.J. was a football player and rental-car pitchman; Donald Trump is a candidate for president of the United States.

In saturating the airwaves with coverage of the trial, it’s obvious to all but the most naïve that the media aims to use the coverage to affix the criminal label to Trump no matter what the jury finds. This has as little to do with transparency as it does with a narrative — a narrative that can be crafted without cameras in the courtroom.

This has nothing to do with, as the Media Coalition claimed in its filing, “a critical step in stemming false conspiracy theories across the entire spectrum of public opinion, regardless of the outcome of the trial.” It has everything to do with politics as entertainment and that entertainment fits the conception of Trump they’ve already established. Even if there were a reason to do away with long-standing rules regarding federal court proceedings, this wouldn’t be it.

via westernjournal

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