Already a member? Log In

Will the Trump Trials Be Televised?

The biggest hurdle to a televised Trump trial is the history of the judiciary, itself.
The biggest hurdle to a televised Trump trial is the history of the judiciary, itself. Photo: Michael M. Santiago/Getty Images
Eriq Gardner
October 23, 2023

Judge Tanya Chutkan, the former Boies Schiller rainmaker who is now overseeing the criminal trial of Donald Trump for attempting to subvert the 2020 election, has already faced multiple legal headaches: a recusal battle, a highly-charged gag order debate, multiple death threats. (“Pray for me,” Chutkan told a friend when she landed the case.) But the biggest, most consequential decision before Chutkan may be whether to allow a video broadcast of the trial, which would inevitably transform an unprecedented political spectacle into a media circus. 

More than a dozen media heavyweights, including CNN, ABC, The New York Times, Washington Post, Bloomberg, and NBC, among many others, have all petitioned the judge to allow video of the proceedings, arguing that doing so would provide the public the best way to evaluate evidence of profound national importance. Sure, there’s the pesky matter of Federal Rule of Criminal Procedure 53, the provision that bars the “broadcasting of judicial proceedings from the courtroom.” But as a recent application by media groups argues, there’s technically nothing in the rulebook that precludes the placement of a pool camera to feed broadcasters outside the courtroom. Should Chutkan disagree, NBC has also presented a First Amendment challenge (read here).