Former President Donald Trump was indicted and pleaded not guilty to 37 federal charges in the classified documents case and was arraigned on June 13, 2023.
AllSides collected and analyzed the top stories on the indictment from outlets across the political spectrum after the arraignment. Here is what they said.
What the Left Said
On average, outlets on the left mentioned the judge, Aileen Cannon, more so than the right. Aileen Cannon was appointed by Trump and by emphasizing this, the left may be insinuating that she will not be impartial concerning Trump as the defendant. For example here is what CNN (Lean Left) had to say: “One major x-factor in the prosecution of the case is its assignment to Cannon…Cannon’s approach to last year’s Trump lawsuit challenging the FBI’s Mar-a-Lago search raised eyebrows among legal experts across the ideological spectrum for how she appeared to bend over backward to create special legal rules in favor of the former president.”
Outlets on the left also tended to mention Walt Nauta more frequently than the right. Nauta, a longtime aide of Trump, was also charged in the arraignment.
Some headlines were neutral, with many saying “Trump pleads not guilty to federal charges.” However, other headlines displayed a clear bias against Trump.
Democracy Now’s (Left bias) headline was “Trump Indictment: Scholar of Fascism Says GOP Has Become an ‘Autocratic Party’ Led by a ‘Cult Leader.’” The Intercept (Left) selected this headline, “Trump Is a Predator Who Feeds On Lackys.” Some may argue that both of these headlines reflect Trump as a boogeyman. Regardless, the bias is clearly evident within these strategically worded headlines.
ABC News (Lean Left) argued in its headline, “No, Donald Trump's classified documents case is not like Joe Biden or Hillary Clinton cases.” ABC News emphasized that Trump is a unique case, and should be treated differently than other democratic figures he may be compared to.
What the Right Said
Outlets on the right used the words former and president slightly more, on average, than the left. Former appeared 0.74% of the time from outlets on the right and 0.38% from outlets on the left, while president appeared 0.68% on the right and 0.40% on the left. Referring to Trump as the former president frequently highlights the fact that arresting and charging an ex-president for his crimes would be unprecedented– and potentially negative for democracy as a whole.
Outlets on the right mentioned the Espionage Act and the Presidential Records Act far more frequently than outlets on the left. Trump was charged with crimes under these two acts, but some articles on the right also mentioned that the Espionage Act requires an extremely high burden of proof, implying that the charges may not stick.
The Washington Free Beacon (Right) said, “Mainstream media have long covered use of the Espionage Act with extreme skepticism. But there was nary a peep of protest from the press as former president Donald Trump was arraigned Tuesday in a Miami federal court on charges mostly stemming from the statute.” The Epoch Times (Lean Right) said, “The alleged Espionage Act violations impose a high burden of proof and raise the question of whether the statute should have been applied to begin with and, if not, whether the underlying investigation should serve as a basis for obstruction charges, some lawyers told The Epoch Times.”
The defense was also mentioned more on the right, while the left more frequently mentioned the prosecution.
Similar to the left, outlets on the right had some headlines that communicated Trump’s arraignment in a neutral light, while some chose to blatantly reflect their bias.
For example, The Epoch Times implied that the charges may not result in a conviction with this headline: “IN-DEPTH: Trump Indictment Rests on Untested Legal Theory, Experts Say.” The Washington Free Beacon took a similar approach with their headline: “The Media Used To Hate the Espionage Act. That Was Before Trump Was Charged Under the Law.”
The Independent Journal Review (Right) highlighted Trump’s own claims as the top headline rather than his arrest by headlining “Trump Claims Special Counsel 'Planted' Classified Documents.”
The Daily Caller (Right) chose the headline “Biden Admin Arrests Donald Trump.” By invoking Biden in the headline it reinforces the narrative that this may be a political move rather than a purely judicial one.
Reason’s (Lean Right) headline was “The 'My Boxes' Theory Is All You Need To Explain Trump's Behavior.” Reason also displayed a bias in their headline, but contrary to other outlets on the right, it implied that Trump is not a boogeyman, but merely an egotistical man.
For this analysis AllSides pulled the top articles on each outlet’s homepage about the Trump arraignment at 4:30 PM ET on July 13, 2023. AllSides gathered articles from 10 outlets on the left and 10 on the right from AllSides Media Bias Chart.
The outlets analyzed on the left were Democracy Now (Left), The Intercept (Left), HuffPost (Left), Daily Beast (Left), Mother Jones (Left), CNN (Lean Left), NBC News (Lean Left), Insider (Lean Left), ABC News (Lean Left), and Associated Press (Lean Left). The Outlets analyzed on the right were NewsMax (Right), Fox news (Right), The Washington Free beacon (Right), Daily Caller (Right), Daily Wire (Right), Independent Journal Review (Right), Reason (Lean Right), The Epoch Times (Lean Right), The Washington Examiner (Lean Right), and the New York Post (Lean Right).