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The Trump Trial Should Be Televised From Gavel to Gavel

Federal court rules prohibit cameras in the courtroom, but the upcoming, republic-shaking case featuring former President Donald Trump needs full transparency.

Three-quarters of the Republican Party thinks this case is political rather than criminal. They are wrong and the detailed indictment posted last Friday makes it clear that the disgraced former President is accused of hiding secret documents, exposing battle plans, and vital agents around the world. Even his former attorney general, Bill Barr said on Fox News that if true, “he is toast”.

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But because of the constant seven years of Trump bashing our institutions, including the FBI and Justice Department, his followers have little or no trust in American law enforcement.

This, despite labeling itself “the party of law and order”. Their trust in the media is also at an all-time low. So reporter accounts of what goes on inside the closed courtroom would be greeted with skepticism and scorn by his cult of followers. A courtroom open only to a handful of reporters and a few audience members would give opinion media a chance to spin and outright lie.

His words have come true: “I could stand in the middle of 5th Avenue and shoot somebody and not lose a single voter”.

This week, Kari Lake — the failed Arizona governor candidate — called for armed resistance with her fake local news smile. Saying those trying to imprison Donald Trump would have to go through her and his MAGA followers, most of whom are members of the NRA. In other words, armed!

Trump has also repeated the calls to action used during the January 6th insurrection, telling his voters to “fight back” against the “department of in-justice”.

So, the only way to restore that faith in our institutions and in the extreme prevent armed revolution is to broadcast the court hearings live and unedited. Trump will not be in control, he can only speak when spoken to, and only if he agrees to testify, which is unlikely, knowing the damage he does to himself whenever he goes on record under oath. He will be forced to sit there at the defense table, grimace silently, and perhaps mumble to his attorneys.

Court TV, which normally handles the broadcasts of high-interest trials, should be allowed to set up 3 cameras. One pointed at the defense table to watch the former President react as his alleged misdeeds are made public before a jury. The second camera a wide shot of the courtroom to catch any disruptions caused by the Proud Boys and their ilk. And a third to capture the witness and judge.

An occasional shot of federal prosecutor Jack Smith would be in order just to catch his steely cold demeanor. His countenance alone should be frightening enough for the MAGA crowd and Trump himself. Heck, when I saw the first video of him walking to the Manhattan Federal Courthouse, I was scared and immediately checked my house for classified documents. I had none.

A televised trial can be dicey. I realize this since I covered the O.J. Simpson case, which featured defense lawyers playing to the camera and a judge who invited celebrities in the audience back to chambers.

But a televised Trump trial would perhaps bring the nation together by watching a shared event.

No media filter, just the facts on trial. Both sides covered by professional attorneys and decided by an impartial jury.

A consortium of media outlets and their attorneys should motion immediately for public access. This is a historic, unprecedented trial with immense consequences and the court system needs to be open and transparent to regain trust from a large, misled section of the public.

Jim Avila
Jim Avila
Jim Avila previously served as a weekly columnist for Barrett News Media. An Award-winning journalist with four decades of reporting and anchoring experience, Jim worked as Senior National Correspondent, 20/20 Correspondent, and White House Correspondent for ABC News. Prior to his time with ABC, he spent a decade with NBC News, and worked locally in Los Angeles and Chicago for KNBC, and WBBM. He can be found on Twitter @JimAvilaABC.

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