FACT CHECK: Viral Image Claims Ghislaine Maxwell’s Trial Is Not Being Televised Due To ‘Too Many Politicians’ And Others Being Involved

Elias Atienza | Fact Check Reporter

An image shared on Facebook over 900 times claims Ghislaine Maxwell’s trial is not being televised “because too many politicians and pedo-elites are involved.”

Verdict: Misleading

While Maxwell’s trial is not being televised, it is not because of “too many politicians and pedo-elites” being involved. It is actually due to Federal Rule of Criminal Procedure 53, which prohibits the broadcasting of criminal proceedings from federal courtrooms.

Fact Check: 

The viral meme attempts to make a comparison in coverage between the trials of Maxwell, the ex-girlfriend and confidant of deceased convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein, and Kyle Rittenhouse, the 18-year-old found not guilty last month of charges filed against him in connection to the Aug. 25, 2020, shootings during a Kenosha, Wisconsin, protest. Maxwell’s trial for federal sex trafficking charges, to which she has pleaded not guilty, started on Nov. 29, according to The New York Times.

“Ghislaine Maxwells (sic) trial should be televised, like Kyle’s was. Why isn’t it?” reads text inside the meme. “Because too many politicians and pedo-elites are involved.” (RELATED: Does This Telephone Number And Access Code Allow People To Remotely Listen To Ghislaine Maxwell’s Trial?)

While Maxwell’s federal trial is not being televised, that is actually due to a long-standing rule pertaining to coverage of federal court proceedings. Federal Rule of Criminal Procedure 53 states, “Except as otherwise provided by a statute or these rules, the court must not permit the taking of photographs in the courtroom during judicial proceedings or the broadcasting of judicial proceedings from the courtroom,” according to Cornell Law School’s Legal Information Institute.

On the other hand, Rittenhouse’s case was tried in a Wisconsin state court. Cameras and audio recording devices are largely allowed in Wisconsin court proceedings, with the Wisconsin Supreme Court also keeping an audio archive of oral arguments since 1997, according to the Radio Television Digital News Association.

Jane Kirtley, the director of the Silha Center for the Study of Media Ethics and Law at the University of Minnesota, told Check Your Fact in an email that “cameras are not permitted in federal trial courts.”

“Electronic media coverage of criminal proceedings in federal courts has been expressly prohibited under Federal Rule of Criminal Procedure 53 since the criminal rules were adopted in 1946,” Kirtley said. She also noted that Rittenhouse’s trial “was in Wisconsin state court” and that Wisconsin “allows cameras in state criminal trials.”

Jonathan Peters, an associate professor at the University of Georgia’s Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication who specializes in communication law and policy, also confirmed to Check Your Fact that Federal Rule of Criminal Procedure 53 “prohibits electronic media coverage of criminal proceedings in federal courts.”

“That has been the rule since 1946,” he added. “State courts follow different rules, and many of them permit electronic media coverage of criminal proceedings, at least under certain circumstances.”

Some politicians and other public figures have been mentioned in testimony during Maxwell’s trial, including former President Donald Trump, former President Bill Clinton, actor Kevin Spacey and Britain’s Prince Andrew, according to the New York Post.

Elias Atienza

Fact Check Reporter
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