Ashley Furst responds to the media portrayal of Trump’s felony convictions

June 6, 2024

By Ashley Furst (Leading with Conviction™ 2024 participant):

I’m sure people have seen this image floating around the Internet by now. And I admit, I did laugh at first, then it forced me to think about the absolutely unprecedented situation we find ourselves in right now here in America.

I grapple with finding myself to be “sympathetic” to Trump’s new status as a person with 34 felony convictions, yet also appalled by his complete lack of accountability for the crimes he committed.

For the rest of us, our stories rarely make headlines, and when they do, they often focus on our crimes rather than our efforts at rehabilitation.

We all know that for the average person, a felony conviction can result in immediate imprisonment, heavy fines, and long-lasting social stigmas. We are often required to complete probation, attend mandatory counseling sessions, and adhere to strict legal requirements upon release where if we mess up, just once, we can get sent back to prison. For the rest of our lives, the shadow of our past mistakes looms large, the stigma of committing a crime permeating our access to basic human dignity.

In Trump’s case, the legal repercussions appear to be minimal in comparison. Despite his felony convictions, he continues to live in relative comfort, surrounded by wealth and loyal supporters. His financial resources allow him to afford top-tier legal representation, which most of us could never dream of. Furthermore, his public platform enables him to influence public opinion and maintain his political career, something unimaginable for the “average felon.”

The media also plays a significant role in shaping public perception of criminal justice. Trump’s extensive media presence and the portrayal of his legal troubles as partisan attacks have skewed public perception, allowing him to evade the kind of accountability that ordinary individuals face. The media’s focus on his political narrative rather than the gravity of his crimes further perpetuates the disparity in accountability.

For the rest of us, our stories rarely make headlines, and when they do, they often focus on our crimes rather than our efforts at rehabilitation. This difference in media portrayal reinforces the societal bias that protects the powerful while marginalizing the less privileged.

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