Op-Ed: We Should Stop Calling Trump a 'Felon'

Marshall Project leader objects to the word being used as a label for anyone, period
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 6, 2024 11:27 AM CDT
Op-Ed: We Should Stop Calling Trump a 'Felon'
Donald Trump speaks outside the courtroom on May 30 after a jury convicted him of felony crimes for falsifying business records in New York.   (Steven Hirsch/New York Post via AP, Pool)

After Donald Trump was convicted of felonies, it wasn't hard to find examples of media coverage referring to him as a "felon." (Maybe the most straightforward example was a damning editorial from the New York Times headlined, "Donald Trump, Felon.") But in a Washington Post op-ed, the head of the nonprofit journalism outfit the Marshall Project—which focuses on criminal justice coverage—makes the case that the media should stop using the word in regard to Trump. It's not that Carroll Bogert is arguing the former president is innocent—it's that she and her group say the word shouldn't be used as a label to describe anyone.

"Most people in prisons and jails in America come from lives of poverty and discrimination," she writes. "A label such as 'felon' or 'inmate' contributes to keeping them at the margins of society." Just because Trump is wealthy, powerful, and not from the margins of society is no reason to resurrect a word that has generally "fallen out of favor" in media coverage. Consider that the Associated Press stylebook, an industry standard, declares, "Do not use felon, convict, or ex-con as nouns." The problem with trotting it out against Trump is that it also affects the millions of other Americans who've been convicted of felonies and who shouldn't be reduced to labels, writes Bogert. (Read the full op-ed.)

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