Swift Trump verdict has the media considering history’s sweep — and the polarizing figure behind it

By DAVID BAUDER (AP Media Writer)

NEW YORK (AP) — A sudden, decisive verdict in former President Donald Trump’s hush money trial on Thursday led the media to simultaneously reflect on both the sweep of history and the most polarizing figure in modern American politics.

Broadcast networks ABC, CBS and NBC suspended regular programming to bring the news shortly after 5 p.m. Eastern. The New York Times and The Washington Post bannered their websites with identical headlines: “Trump Guilty on all Counts.”

“The former president is a convicted felon,” said CBS News’ Norah O’Donnell, “but that does not prevent him from running for office for another term in the White House.”

The Drudge Report website repeated the word “guilty” 34 times in red type under a picture of Trump sitting in court earlier in the day.

AN UNEXPECTED MOMENT FOR A VERDICT

The announcement came as news organizations were preparing to end a second day of waiting out jury deliberations with no conclusion. They quickly scrambled when Judge Juan Merchan, instead of saying court was dismissed until Friday, said there was a verdict that would be announced in a half hour.

Once the jury was seated in a Manhattan courtroom with no cameras allowed, word emerged quickly — the jury foreman pronounced Trump “guilty” 34 times, on all counts.

“That sudden turn at the end of today must have been very unsettling for the former president,” said ABC News anchor David Muir.

Courtroom observers watched Trump carefully for signs of a reaction, with one noticing that he subtly shook his head then watched with little movement as all the counts were read. Trump later came out to tell waiting media that the “rigged” trial was a disgrace and that Americans will have the final verdict on him on Election Day in November.

“He’s now a different type of figure in history than he was a half hour ago,” MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow said, “and yet he says the same thing.”

DIFFERENT NEWS ORGANIZATIONS, DIFFERENT TAKES

Media organizations supportive of Trump mixed dismissiveness with anger. Fox News analyst Andy McCarthy, whose words were quoted frequently by Trump most days when he spoke after the trial, had predicted the guilty verdict in the moments before it came down. But he said afterward it was inconceivable that anyone else in in New York state would be treated that way.

McCarthy said the case will be appealed, “and I hope there will be more fairness and equity than there was in the trial.”