This past weekend President Trump’s top legal representatives in the Russia investigation ended up quitting on him. The topic of debate amongst journalists is figuring out why Mr. Trump has not been able to hire any new lawyers. Although media sources are covering the same story they all have been speculating differently. In this article, I briefly compare and contrast two articles (The New York Times and CNN) using the media concepts of framing and priming.
The New York Times headline reads “At a Crucial Juncture, Trump’s Legal Defense is Largely a One-Man Operation” This article attributes the recent departure of Trump’s Legal representatives and his failures to find replacements to his unpredictable behavior. The authors frame Trump in a negative light by using priming to judge President Trump’s character by attacking his sociability and competence. The authors begin by calling Trump a “Mercurial client who often ignores his advisor’s guidance,” they go to explain that Trump now only has one more lawyer. The authors then go on to reference John Dowd who quit after determining that Trump was not willing to listen to him. By highlighting this event the authors are depicting Trump as an uncooperative individual, discrediting his character in the process. Later, the author’s then referenced Roger Cossack, a legal analyst, who stated Trump to be a client who clearly thinks he has a better idea of how things should work than his lawyers. This example critiques Trump’s competence and character by depicting him as a know it all. In addition, the authors claim, “Mr. Trump, only trusts few people and considers himself his best lawyer, spokesperson, and strategist,” by pointing out Trump’s uncooperative nature and incompetence primes viewers to judge his character negatively. If these claims are true then the journalists are partaking in good journalism, but I think they should refrain from using harsh words to make their point.
The CNN article focuses more on reporting the events than priming Trump’s character. The authors start by explaining Trump’s struggles to find new attorneys and discusses John Dowd resignation from Trump’s legal team. The authors then go on to list a few lawyers that approached the Trump administration, but none of them ended up representing him because it conflicted with their other client’s schedules. Next, the authors mention Trump wanting to hire lawyer couple Joseph diGenova and Victoria Toensing, but he decided not to pursue any further because Toensing represented a client in Trump Tower case. The authors close by mentioning Toensing representing Sam Clovis the former Trump campaign chair. The authors use priming in a different way compared to the New York Times article. CNN decided to focus only on events while leaving out some of the lawyers’ comments. The choices CNN makes influence the reader by informing them of the situation as compared to judging Trump’s character.
In conclusion, The New York Times and CNN both covered the same event, but managed to frame it differently. The New York Times judged Trump’s character, while CNN listed the events Trump has taken since losing his lawyers. The New York Times readers would most likely interpret Trump as an individual that is unable to cooperate with others. While the CNN readers would further understand Trump’s search in finding replacement lawyers to represent him in the Russian Probe lawsuit. The New York Times article is concerned because they should inform readers of the situation, but at the same time, it is also important to be critical of the president’s actions. As for the CNN article they should have been more skeptical as to why Trump’s lawyers decided to quit on him. Both articles are good, but they each need to improve on informing their readers.