French, Spanish and German newspapers do not spare criticism and irony, whereas Britons are divided. The analysis by Volocom
The news of Donald Trump‘s indictment for secretly managing classified documents and obstructing their recovery by the government has gone around the world. The former US president risks prison and ineligibility for violating the law and lying to the FBI. This is the first time a former US president has found himself in such a serious situation.
But how do foreign newspapers talk about it? What tone and sentiment do they use to tell the story? Thanks to Volopress, Volocom’s platform for monitoring and analyzing the press and the web, we have been able to read and sift through articles from major newspapers in France, Spain, Germany, the United States and the United Kingdom, comparing them with each other.
The result is that European newspapers are not tender with Trump and his legal situation. In general, they show a negative sentiment towards him, highlighting his responsibilities and contradictions. They use different tones, from informative to ironic, but share the same message: Trump is not above the law and must answer for his actions.
The criticism of the French press
In France, Les Echos newspaper talks the most about the former American president, saying it is surprised as this is the first time a former US president risks prison and ineligibility. The articles also cite some former members of his administration who criticized him for his behavior, such as former Attorney General Bill Barr and former National Security Adviser John Bolton. The article also uses strong expressions to describe the charges and evidence against Trump, such as “the photos and testimonies it contains give goosebumps“.
The daily Le Figaro also reports Donald Trump’s indictment, even showing photos of the boxes containing the documents that Trump hid and moved in various places of his residence. According to the French newspaper, those documents concern the military and nuclear secrets of the United States and other countries, and Trump showed them to unauthorized people, even boasting about having them. In this context, his personal assistant, Walt Nauta, who was charged with him for lying to the FBI and hiding information, is also mentioned. The tone of the article is ironic and sarcastic towards Trump, who is presented as irresponsible.
The Spanish press: irony and indignation
The Spanish newspapers in general show a negative sentiment towards Trump and his legal situation. The El Pais newspaper ironizes about his involvement in the affair. Nauta’s role is in fact described as the one who took care of bringing him Diet Coke (not surprisingly renamed “chico para todo“, “the boy for everything“) and handling and hiding the boxes containing the incriminating documents. The newspaper also underlines Nauta’s loyalty to Trump, which led him to refuse to cooperate with justice. The newspaper also focuses on two elements that could influence the outcome of the trial: Judge Aileen Cannon, appointed by Trump and under scrutiny for her impartiality, and the choice of Florida as the venue for the trial, a state where Trump has a strong base of supporters.
El Mundo also deals with Trump’s case, highlighting the difficulties in finding a lawyer to defend him. The articles report the statements of some former members of his legal team, who have expressed doubts about his innocence and credibility. Opinions of some experts and former members of his administration, such as former National Security Adviser John Bolton, who asked him to withdraw from the 2024 presidential race, are also cited. The article uses a critical and informative tone towards Trump, showing the seriousness of the charges and the weakness of the defenses.
The German press: detachment and severity
The German newspapers (mainly the Frankfurter Allgemeine) seem to be the most detached from the topic, in a month they produced only 5 articles about it. Detached yes, but ruthless. In fact, the newspapers do not describe the case with irony or understanding, but present it as a “threat to the nation“. The Germans then meticulously report the sources that cast doubt on the innocence of the former President, such as former National Security Adviser John Bolton, who asked him to withdraw from the presidential race, or Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, who said he would be “prosecuted in a minute” if he had retained classified documents while in the Navy.
The American press: sobriety and division
If, on the other hand, we read the articles written this month by American newspapers such as the New York Times and the Los Angeles Times, we notice that the newspaper does not use emotional words or words that imply a judgment, but lets the quotes convey the sentiment of the article. The articles report the facts and sources so as to highlight the seriousness of the charges and the weakness of Trump’s defenses. The newspapers do not take an explicit position on the case, but report the opinions of various actors involved, such as his lawyers, allies, former collaborators and opponents.
The Los Angeles Times presents a different, more severe tone towards the case, arguing that Trump cannot invoke the right to do whatever he wants with sensitive information, nor can he appeal to the precedent of Clinton, Biden or Pence, who had different and less serious behaviors. The newspaper clearly denounces the hypocrisy and inconsistency of the Republicans who today defend Trump and yesterday accused Clinton for much less.
The English press: indifference and defense
The English press, like the German one, does not seem particularly passionate about Donald Trump’s trial. The Times and the Daily Mail are the newspapers that have discussed it the most, and the latter seems to be one of the few proposing a pro-Trump position defended from the accusations of mismanaging classified documents. In fact, the British newspaper argues that it is a political persecution orchestrated by their opponents, who want to eliminate them and criminalize them. In this case Trump becomes “the victim of a conspiracy“.
Social media: the debate rages
The debate on Donald Trump’s trial has also raged on social media and there have been many interactions. In just the last month, at a global level, the trial issue is mentioned almost half a million times, exactly 371,000 times. But which country has talked about it the most? Clearly the United States, which alone produced almost half of the mentions on the subject, 130,900. If the English press did not particularly focus attention on the case, we note that on social media the discussion becomes more lively: it is the second country in fact for mentions in this regard. Following the ranking we find Canada, Australia, Brazil, Mexico, India, Spain, Pakistan and finally Germany.
On social media you can see different positions and feelings towards Donald Trump’s trial. There are those who defend and support him, accusing the Democrats of orchestrating a witch hunt and violating his rights. There are those who attack and condemn him, arguing that he endangered national security and deserves prison. There are those who show themselves skeptical and cynical, doubting that the trial will lead to real justice and that Trump will pay for his crimes.
Among the social media most used to talk about Trump’s trial are Twitter, Facebook and Reddit. On Twitter you can find many tweets from politicians, journalists, experts and activists expressing their assessments of the case. For example, Senator Bernie Sanders wrote: “Trump violated the Espionage Act and obstructed justice. He must be tried and convicted like anyone else.” Journalist Glenn Greenwald wrote: “Trump’s trial is a political sham that has nothing to do with national security. It’s just an attempt to destroy his populist movement.” National security expert Malcolm Nance wrote: “Trump endangered the lives of millions of people with his irresponsible behavior. He showed classified documents to anyone who suited him. He is a traitor to the country.”
On Facebook you can find many posts from groups and pages dedicated to Trump or American politics in general. For example, the group “We Support President Donald Trump” posted: “Trump’s trial is a shame and a violation of the Constitution. The Democrats are desperate and want revenge on Trump because he did great things for America. We are with him to the end. ”
In any case, on social media there is little confidence in the former US president but also many small “niches” that defend him tooth and nail. Trump’s trial will surely be a crucial event not only for domestic US politics, but also for their image and reputation in the world.