For my first article comparison, I am comparing two news articles, “Michael Cohen says Donald Trump knew hush payments were wrong” from CNN and “Former FEC commissioners: Trump-Cohen ‘hush’ payments not necessarily a violation” from Fox News. Both of these articles cover the hush money given to Stormy Daniels and another woman who had an affair with Donald Trump. They both debate whether the money counts as a campaign finance violation, though they take completely different sides, both committing sins of omission along the way.
In the article from CNN, it reads like an interview with Cohen and his views on working with President Trump but does not discuss the possibility of it not being a violation. The other article from Fox, however, rarely quotes Cohen directly and instead focuses on downplaying the severity of Trump’s actions.
In the first article, the situation is framed as being “wrong,” while using Cohen as a character witness for Donald Trump. He said that “Trump directed him to make the payments because Trump ‘was very concerned about how this would affect the election.'” By using this quote, the author puts it in the context of campaign finance violation while only ever mentioning the exact term when saying that Cohen plead guilty to the charge. The author skirts around the actual issue of what might make this a problem for Trump. I see the purpose of this article as a way to establish more distrust towards President Trump than to make accusations about him breaking laws. In addition to Cohen’s reports on working with Trump, they also mention his deals with Russia. The article states, “Trump repeatedly denied any contact between members of his campaign team and Russians. At least 16 Trump associates had contacts with Russians during the 2016 campaign or transition.” By stating Trump’s claim then immediately debunking it, the author is instilling the idea that Trump cannot be trusted. This article is a way of stacking sources against Trump and building up to an offense he could be tried for in the future. It does not suggest that Trump is guilty of one particular thing, but rather that he has a history of lying about his actions in general.
In the other article by Fox News, they immediately address the worst case scenario and confront the issue. The evidence used in this article greatly contrasts to the other article. They draw on the word of former FEC commissioners. They say “there would have been a lot of pressure for Cohen to plead guilty due to the more serious financial charges he was facing related to his business dealings.” This piece of evidence from an authority on the matter seeks to invalidate the idea that Cohen and Trump are locked together. The author uses this as a strategy to separate Trump from the guilty party. In addition to that, they aim to separate the transaction from the election. The author describes Trump as a “well-known celebrity, and celebrities face these claims all the time.” At the very least, the article tries to prove the legality of Trump’s actions without discussing if they were ethically wrong in any capacity.
The two articles both have a fair level of shortcomings. If someone only read the CNN article, they would only obtain the information that reaffirms a belief that Trump is untrustworthy. This can build into overestimating the effect that these actions might have on Trump’s presidency, like believing it is an impeachable offense, even if the action in and of itself is hard to prove. If someone only read the Fox article, however, they would not receive all the facts on Cohen’s outlook on the situation or on quite the severity of the actions. The Fox article only aims to affirm that the actions were not necessarily illegal and do some damage control. Both articles leave out important perspectives and do a detriment to the set of people that will only read the one article.