Donald Trump may be stuck in a Manhattan courtroom, but he knows his fave legal analysts

NEW YORK — If there’s bragging involved when Donald Trump praises your legal acumen when he speaks after a day of testimony in his criminal trial, Fox News analyst Andy McCarthy has been quoted at least a dozen times.

The former president and current presidential candidate has routinely stepped up to a metal barricade outside the lower Manhattan courtroom to face cameras and get the final say on the day’s proceedings. Now that the trial is over, his speeches – he rarely acknowledges shouted questions – increasingly consist of reading the words of friendly commentators from a stack of papers.

In addition to McCarthy, a former prosecutor and writer for the National Review in Manhattan, Fox commentators Jonathan Turley, Gregg Jarrett and Mark Levin are regularly criticized.

“Every lawyer says, ‘They don’t have a case,’” Trump has said more than once as he read supporting quotes.

McCarthy, who was quoted three times by the former president on May 13, is a “great analyst,” Trump said. Some favorites get personal praise: Byron York is “a great person, a great reporter.” Alan Dershowitz is also “a great person,” Trump said. Every now and then someone from CNN sneaks in. MSNBC gets the silent treatment.

For television, the ban on cameras in courtrooms in New York means a lot of airtime for legal analysts. It’s reminiscent of the height of the form thirty years ago, when the OJ Simpson murder trial made household names of people like Jeffrey Toobin, Nancy Grace and Greta Van Susteren. Fox’s Jarrett, who worked at Court TV in the 1990s, covers the eras.

Of course, it’s not hard to find people who contradict Trump. On the television news networks that cover the trial extensively, the prevailing opinions often reflect the audience they seek: little sympathy for the prosecution’s case against Fox, and equally difficult to find praise for the defense on MSNBC. On CNN it’s more mixed.

The more experienced legal minds, like Chuck Rosenberg who spoke on MSNBC on Wednesday, note that it would be foolish to predict an outcome. The only opinions that really matter are those of the judges.

More nuanced reporting can usually be found off-screen. For example, Sunday’s edition of The New York Times ran a news report that quoted experts as concluding: “Several experts say the prosecution will still lose the case.” In the same day’s opinion section, columnist Ross Douthat concluded that the case has been a political winner for Trump so far.

“Just as even paranoid people can have enemies, even sinful demagogues can face politically motivated persecution — and benefit from the appearance of legal prosecution,” Douthat wrote. “And that appearance has so far been the political gift of the process to Donald Trump.”

MSNBC spent much of its day on Trump’s legal issues well before the current trial. Former prosecutor Andrew Weissmann has a huge presence there; he also contributes to a podcast, “Prosecuting Donald Trump,” with fellow analyst Mary McCord.

Even MSNBC’s biggest stars, including Rachel Maddow, have spent time in court. After listening to Trump’s defense earlier this week, she reported that it was “discursive, verbose and uninteresting.”

Fox’s commentators on this case have drawn a lot of Trump’s attention. According to liberal watchdog Media Matters, from the start of the trial through May 15, Turley appeared to talk about the trial 47 times on Fox’s weekday programs, with McCarthy logging 35.

McCarthy once prosecuted terrorism cases in the U.S. Attorney’s Office in the Southern District of New York, representing Rudolph Giuliani. Turley is a professor at George Washington University Law School and founded the Project for Older Prisoners, which helps seek the release of geriatric prisoners.

Writing about the trial in the National Review, McCarthy said that “Trump should be acquitted for the simplest of reasons: Prosecutors cannot prove their case.” He criticized prosecutor witness and former Trump lawyer Michael Cohen on air, saying Cohen’s dishonesty and bias against Trump will be issues he must overcome with the jury.

Speaking to Fox’s Jesse Watters last week, Turley called Cohen “the most compromised, incredible witness in the history of the federal justice system.” During another Fox appearance, Turley said the judge, Juan Merchan, was not even allowed to present the case to the jury.

“I think this case is over,” Turley said. “They did not state the basis for a crime.”

This week on Fox, host Martha MacCallum said that “if you look at the legal experts on the other channels, this case is airtight.”

The network, as usual, ran Trump’s daily broadcast Monday at 5 p.m. ET — the time slot of “The Five,” the most popular program on cable news. MSNBC did not carry Trump. CNN featured the former president and immediately followed up with a fact check.

As happened that day, and occasionally others, Trump has praised a number of CNN commentators. He quoted CNN’s Laura Coates, Elie Honig and Tim Parlatore, the latter a former Trump lawyer hired as an analyst.

CNN fact-checker Tom Foreman said Trump “did a lot of cherry picking” in his quotes.

“It’s certainly true that we have some panelists saying this is not a good thing,” CNN’s Jake Tapper said. “There are also people who think differently. And that’s what we’re trying to do here: bring out a diversity of views.”


David Bauder writes about media for The Associated Press. Follow him at