The Trump Indictment 

Some people love him, some people hate him, but whatever the case may be we all know about former President Donald Trump.

In 2016, Trump allegedly instructed his lawyer, Michael Cohen, to make a payment to adult film actress Stormy Daniels in exchange for her silence regarding an alleged sexual encounter between them and the former president. To cover up the payment, Trump supposedly reimbursed Cohen with checks marked as “Legal Expenses” to offset taxes. Although falsifying business records is a misdemeanor in New York, it can become a felony if it is linked to another crime. As a result, Trump was arrested and charged.

It is not yet clear what the other crime is, but it is believed to be related to violating election laws. It is speculated that we will have to wait until next year to find out for certain. However, with all that is happening, it has caused a huge wave of media coverage, and this begs the question: is all the coverage worth it, or has it just turned into one big witch hunt?

To gather some consensus on how we, over at the Edison community, feel regarding all the things in the media recently regarding the indictment, I have interviewed some of Ms. Butto’s 7th period government students.

Jason Lorenzo, an Edison senior, said, “I think it is justified because it’s a president being indicted for the first time in US history, and I think it’s really important to record it and follow up with it just for the fact because it will go down in history for the first case it’s ever happened.”

“And also to set an example for our next presidents because our next presidents seeing this will hopefully take more caution in what they do, whether it’s behind closed doors or open doors,” Fardin Ahmed, another Edison senior, interjected.

However, others had a dissenting opinion on the matter.

“I think it isn’t worth it because it is the first president to be indicted, yes, but I think it would have been better if it had stayed behind closed doors and was private. [This is] because at the end of the day, with all this media attention and people’s opinions, it can sway the way people think of him and maybe even sway the way juries act towards him while in the case or working in the court,” said Ahmed.

“I feel like the media coverage is pointless because not a lot of people care too much about Trump. He’s not the president anymore. It would have been different if it was Joe Biden getting arrested, but Trump is old news now. It’s just not important,” said Aliya Liyang, a 12th grader part of our Edison community.

“I will assume it’s a rare thing because I haven’t really heard much of presidents being indicted, but I feel like the whole media coverage thing is just a real waste of time. There are much more important things we can focus on, but no, we’re focused on him. Every little thing he does for some reason has to be big news when he’s not the president anymore, he isn’t representing the country anymore, we can just leave him alone now,” said Preston Hayes, an Edison junior.

Already, we can tell there is a divide in the consensus regarding whether or not all of the recent coverage is worth it or not. Some say it is for the historical aspect of this indictment, and it’s important to set an example, while others say that it isn’t because it’s old news now, and it’s time for us as a country to move on from the Trump years.

Does this mean that by putting all this attention on the Trump trial proceedings, it’s overshadowing other news events?

“Absolutely. For instance, whatever issues are going on with the economy, we could be focusing on that more. But no, we’re focusing on him and the stuff that he’s been doing, which is the same things other presidents have done before, and most politicians do the same thing. Most politicians are shady to begin with, so even if [Trump] did do something that can be considered bad or whatever, [other politicians] have done either the same thing or worse,” said Hayes.

“Yeah, they feel like dropping this story was going to be the number one hit and trying to disguise everything going on in the world, like the important stuff,” Liyang said.

While some say that by focusing on the indictment this much, it’s trying to sweep other important matters under the carpet so as to not give so much light on them, others had a different opinion.

“I think it is worth covering, and it does deserve the amount of attention it receives, but I don’t think it should overshadow other cases as well, especially good news. You don’t really hear good news anymore on the news, it’s always something bad, and especially with this, this is just like the worst news you could possibly hear. Especially if you’re into politics, which I’m not, but even then it’s hard to ignore the coverage,” said Ahmed.

While it is true that it is important to shed light on important news, a lot of important news seems to not be happy news, and so it is good to have a balance of issues that are more serious and news that are more feel-good that we can be happy about.

Moreover, when asked about if and how we should hold high ranking officials accountable for their actions, even if they are no longer in office, Aliya Liyang said, “I’m not saying that he shouldn’t be held accountable, but let him get arrested in private. We don’t care anymore, the whole situation that was going on during his presidency about emails, he should have been arrested so now that it’s finally happening like, yay, like why are we celebrating? But he should definitely be held accountable for his actions, but people just don’t want to know about it, like I said, it’s old news.”

Adding on to this, Hayes and Jordan had the following remark: “Absolutely. Everyone should be held accountable for their actions, but those are serious actions they should be held accountable for. Not these minor things that don’t hold much over them. There have been serious things against Donald Trump, like he’s been touching women, or being racist, or the Capitol insurrection. Those things were big, but he kept coming back from it. Do they really think that this small thing can keep him from coming back now? No, he’s going to keep coming back because we keep giving him attention. If we weren’t, nothing would be happening, because when nobody mentions his name, everyone is silent, everything is calm, but once he’s mentioned, he’s all over the news as if he’s the next Madonna,” said Hayes.

“If we just ignore him, nothing will come about. Do we even remember the president from 10 years ago? Not really. Do we remember the president from presidents ago? Not really as well. So if we just stop paying attention to Trump, nothing will happen. If we’re going to talk about the stuff that he did that he should be held accountable for, yes I believe that he should be accountable for,” Jordan said.

This seems to be the case for a lot of things. The more attention an issue receives, the more the problem generally tends to get out of hand. However, with less attention and more people starting not to care, the problem gets less and less prominent until the point where we don’t hear about it anymore over time. It seems to be a pattern, looking back on our country’s history, during the 1970s Watergate scandal, where everyone was calling Nixon a crook, and the same attitude will most likely be given to Trump in the future by future generations as there is less attention drawn upon it over time.

Moving on, there is a lot of tension and a partisan divide in politics, which was exacerbated by Trump. Before, Democrats and Republicans, although disagreeing with each other on fundamental issues, could still maintain a level of respect for each other and not be so cutthroat. This is evident from the difference between how both parties used to act, for example, in the Obama vs. McCain debate of 2008 and Obama vs. Romney debate of 2012, compared to the Trump vs. Hillary debate of 2016 or the Trump vs. Biden debate of 2020. Has the divide grown even stronger with the recent indictment?

“To be honest, this is true for both Democrats and Republicans. They will use any little thing they can to make each other look bad because they are against each other. Sure, they want what’s best for the country, but they don’t want what’s best for each other. Since Donald Trump is a Republican and he was the president, Democrats will go right after anything just to bring [Republicans] down because they want their views and what they want to be implemented in the country,” said Hayes.

“I think that it does contribute heavily to polarization between the two different sides of our political parties. In recent years, it’s already been going up, but I think with this case, it’s just increased exponentially,” said Lorenzo.

And this is evident in the way the two parties talk about each other now. This also leads to media bias present between right-leaning media outlets, such as Fox News, the Daily Wire, and left-leaning media outlets, like CNN, NBC, ABC.

In fact, Fardin Ahmed had this comment to make about it: “I would argue that’s not very fair because the media is biased either left or right. The left would hate on him for what he’s doing and exaggerate everything he’s doing, like the smallest mistake he makes, they will blow it out of proportion. And then the right will try to suppress it as much as possible, and the only way you can really find proper coverage of it is unbiased [sources], which is really hard to find. You have to go out of our way to find these articles that are unbiased.”

This goes back to the point of media bias. Thanks to cancel culture, we have this trend of right-leaning media personalities continuously going after the Democrats for the things they do, regardless of how minute in value it may appear to be, and same with the Democrats, to try and incite fear in their audience and increase polarization in the country.

“Democrat leaders don’t trust Republican leaders, and Republican leaders don’t trust Democrat leaders, and it’s just further dividing us, and we’re losing trust in the government. With this case, especially, you don’t know who to trust anymore,” said Ahmed.

Moreover, does this impact public perception of our justice system and those that are accused?

“With recent years with social media and different cases, our judicial system needs work and improvement, and other aspects of our government and law enforcement also need work,” said Lorenzo.

“No, it doesn’t, because one person getting arrested, it’s like yeah, he got arrested, but what about everyone else? I feel like it was public pressure that really made them go out and get him because it’s been going on for years, so it’s like why now?” said Liyang.

As our country changes and evolves, and new leaders step in, progress is needed to make our legal system more effective. This stresses the importance of voting, especially as the 2024 elections approach and many of us become eligible to vote. We should make an active effort to vote for politicians who will represent our best interests.

Overall, media coverage of former President Donald Trump’s indictment has caused a divide in opinion. Some people believe it is worth it due to the historical significance of the event, while others think it is time to move on. While some people feel the intense media focus on Trump overshadows other important news events, others believe the story deserves attention but should not dominate other cases or completely ignore positive news.

Regardless of opinions, it is crucial to maintain a balance between serious news and news that creates a positive impact while still holding high-ranking officials accountable for their actions. Holding high-ranking officials accountable also ties into the importance of voting. As many of us will soon be able to vote, it is crucial to understand the impact of media coverage on our opinions and perceptions of important issues.

By being well-informed, we can make informed decisions and contribute to a balanced, accountable society. Voting is one of the most powerful tools we have to hold our leaders accountable and shape the future of our country. Let’s stay informed and exercise our right to vote in the upcoming elections.

Wazilyne Choudhury

Hi! My name is Wazilyne and I will primarily be writing for the Opinions section as a part of The Edison Light. My interests include watching Netflix, cooking, baking, sleeping, talking and hanging out with my friends, programming, and keeping up to date with current events. I hope that you enjoy reading my articles and that they are not only interesting to you but also help you become a more well informed person.