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Mediated Politics and Crime in the Post-Truth World of Trump

Venue: Online

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Abstract: Criminology on Trump, published in May 2022, is a criminological investigation of the world’s most successful outlaw, Donald J. Trump. Over the course of five decades, Trump has been accused of sexual assault, tax evasion, money laundering, non-payment of employees, and the defrauding of tenants, customers, contractors, investors, bankers, and charities. Nevertheless, for some 50 years Trump has continued to amass wealth and power. In this criminal biography of Trump, I explain how the racketeer-in-chief was able to escape the law with nary a scratch. I also describe how Trump as president was able to maximize his lawlessness, corrupt much of the administrative state, including the Justice Department, and expand his criminal enterprise by both grifting and monetizing the powers of the bully pulpit.    

Currently, I am working on a sequel, Criminalizing a Former President: The Case of Donald Trump and the Missing Struggle for a New Democracy to be published in summer 2025. Picking up where the first book leaves off, I have set about the writing task of documenting the difficulty of prosecuting a former president of the United States for a myriad of white-collar, corporate, and state crimes. It is my contention that Trump’s fraudulent behaviors and his legal battles should be viewed through the lenses of a criminal enterprise and racketeering. These allegedly disparate yet inter-related offenses—civil and criminal—as of late 2022 involving at least six concurrent investigations of Trump and/or lawsuits against him, could all likewise be amalgamated and prosecuted as a classic “hub and spoke” multi-prong criminal conspiracy case under RICO or the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act.

Documenting the struggle to bring Donald Trump and his conspiratorial allies to justice unfolds as I am also critiquing the two-party bipartisan political system and making the radical case for a majoritarian form of democracy. As I believe this structural reform would be best for addressing the underlying historical problems of our politics as evidenced by the contemporary crisis in U.S.  constitutionalism represented by an aspiring nascent GOP neo-American fascist state versus a Democratic party trying to save, if it can, the not so old federal democratic republic of America.  

In this online talk, I share how monetizing the Trump book industry provided a newsmaking criminologist with continuing opportunities to not only engage with mainstream narratives on Trump’s criminal misbehaviors and fraudulent illegalities, but to contribute alternative narratives grounded in an understanding of the crimes of the powerful and in the systemic resistance to criminalizing these offenders. More specifically, I share the means of how I used the lawlessness and impunity of Donald Trump and the tools of newsmaking criminology to take on the false narratives or misunderstandings of crime and the administration of justice, especially as these unwittingly mediate with mass discourses commonly used to unreflexively reproduce crime, privilege, and inequality in the United States.

About the speaker: Gregg Barak is an Emeritus Professor of Criminology and Criminal Justice at Eastern Michigan University. Barak is an award-winning author and editor of books on crime, justice, media, violence, criminal law, homelessness, and human rights. He is also the co-founder and North American Editor of the Journal of White Collar and Corporate Crime.


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