Here’s How Cable News Covered Trump Mugshot Release

By A.J. Katz 

An unprecedented moment in American history transpired on Thursday: A American president had his police mugshot taken at a county jail.

Former President Donald Trump surrendered, was arrested, booked and subsequently released from Atlanta’s Fulton County jail on a $200,000 bond Thursday evening, in light of the 13 charges of attempting to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election in the state of Georgia, which Trump lost.

Fulton County authorities are taking mug shots of all 19 Trump associates charged in the Georgia case, including his lawyers Rudy Giuliani and Sidney Powell and his former chief of staff Mark Meadows.


Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis is overseeing the charges being brought against Trump and his co-defendants. In a filing Thursday, Willis requested that the trial begin October 23. A judge will eventually be the one to decide when Trump’s Georgia trial will begin, as he faces other charges in New York, Florida and Washington, D.C.

It was Trump’s fourth criminal indictment this year alone, with the three others relating to his personal business dealings, and handling of classified documents.

The twice-impeached president continues to deny all charges being brought against him.

Following his arrest in Fulton County, Trump shared an image of his mugshot on X/Twitter with an appealing for donation, constitution his first post on the Elon Musk-owned social media platform since the infamous date of January 6, 2021. Trump was banned from the platform shortly after the insurrection on the U.S. Capitol, with the company citing the risk of further incitement of violence. However, Trump’s account was restored after Twitter was purchased by Musk.

CNN was the first TV news organization to show the mugshot on air, doing so at 8:39 p.m. ET.

“We did get this mug shot of the former President of the United States, and we’re going to show it to our audience now,” said Kaitlan Collins. “This is just a striking image to see the former president of the United States who was just booked into the Fulton County jail behind us. Questions remain even within his team as of this morning whether or not this photo would actually exist, but there you see it with the mother marks just like every other co-defendant that has come before him.”

MSNBC showed the mugshot at 8:50 p.m. ET, with Rachel Maddow providing context:

“Just now, in the last few moments, the sheriff has released that mugshot for former President Trump. So, I’m saying we should slow down here just for a second. This is serious stuff for the nation, for who we are as a country. We have never before had a mugshot of a United States president, current or former. Now, we do. Here it is. Criminal defendant and former president, Donald J. Trump. Presumed innocent until proven guilty, in accordance with the rule of law. For his sake and for ours. Whatever you think of the photo, this is not something to take lightly. Our constitutional republic depends on the very basic concept of rule by law, not ruled by man. Constitutional standard under which our president is still just a citizen, and all citizens have equal standing before one system of law which applies equally to everyone. The rule of law, and health of our democracy, depends, not just on the conduct of this criminal case, but on our ability as citizens to take this with the heft that it needs. To look at this and see it as American citizens, who prize country above politics, and who, ourselves, prize the law, rather than the fame of any one man. 

We have never been here before. We are forced to consider an American president as a suspected and indicted felon. Here we are. Remarkable itself, we have three previous arrests and indictments of Trump, and none of them produced a mugshot. Fulton County decided to do it. That itself is a remarkable thing.”

Fox News showed the mugshot at 8:53 p.m. ET.

“Just take that in for a second. You do see the anger in the eyes,” said Jesse Watters. “I don’t like the ghoulish coverage. CNN got the image leading before the rest of the media. That tells you everything you know about the process … This elicits an emotional response.”

Leland Vittert was on the air for NewsNation with legal analyst Shanlon Wu when his network showed the mugshot.

“I’m going to interrupt my own question. We have gotten now the mugshot of the former president. We understand that he will be selling a lot of merchandise based on — we understand a lot of his supporters are already putting out their own version of their mugshot to show solidarity …”

After the mugshot appeared on the screen, Vittert quickly returned to his original question for Wu — if he could give his thoughts on the decision to have cameras in the Georgia courtroom versus not having cameras inside the federal court for former President Trump’s other trials.