The Daily Scoop: The promise and peril of political mugshots

Plus: PSLs celebrate 20 years of fall and a ruling on AI and copyright has big implications.

Mugshots will have big political implications.

Former President Donald Trump is currently facing his fourth set of criminal charges, this time in Georgia tied to a racketeering case centering around allegations that he and 18 others conspired in an attempt to overturn the results of the 2020 election.

The other three times Trump has been indicted, he’s managed to avoid a humiliating rite of passage for anyone accused of a crime: the mugshot.

Fulton County Sheriff Pat Labat told reporters that it “doesn’t matter your status. We’ll have mug shots ready for you,” NPR reported.

And, indeed, many of Trump’s co-defendants have already turned themselves in for booking and have had their mugshots taken and released as a public record, including “America’s Mayor” Rudy Giuliani, who served as Trump’s personal attorney.



Trump is widely expected to turn himself in today and have his own mugshot taken — and then this story will really begin.

Why it matters:

Everything about this situation embodies the word “unprecedented.” But while it’s one thing to hear that a former president has been indicted, it’s quite another to see a mugshot that will appear on every website, news channel, newspaper and social media app in existence.

But it will go beyond being news and become a political football.

NPR notes that, “such a photo could further galvanize Trump’s supporters and burnish the baseless narrative that he is a victim of a politically biased justice system.” Indeed, some defendants are already treating it as a badge of honor — Former Georgia Republican Party Chair David Shafer is using the mugshot as his profile photo on X/Twitter.

You can expect that Trump has practiced his mugshot to strike just the right tone (NPR expects it to be “mix of defiant and wronged,” though a smile is not out of the question). Expect it to immediately appear on fundraising merch — NPR reported that his team sold fake mugshots in the wake of earlier indictments.

And naturally, his political opponents will also latch onto the mugshot to paint Trump as a criminal who does not deserve reelection.

But will any of that matter when Trump is the frontrunner in the Republican primary — something the first debate did little to change?

“Either way, the mugshot has become as divisive a PR tool as the political landscape it’s situated in.”

Editor’s Top Reads:

  • Some retailers are facing a wave of legal action for allegedly deceiving customers by artificially inflating the price of items only to mark them down so customers think they’re getting a better deal than they are, the Wall Street Journal reported. “It’s trying to put a carrot in front of the customer and give them a sense of urgency to purchase—and it works,” Stacey Widlitz, president of research firm SW Retail Advisors, told the Wall Street Journal. While the practice has long been against FTC guidelines, those rules have been rarely enforced since the 1970s, though that could be changing. It’s a reminder that honesty and transparency is best, even if everyone else is also engaging in a questionable practice.
  • Feel that chill in the air? It’s PSL season. The iconic Starbucks Pumpkin Spice Latte is celebrating its 20th In those two decades, it’s become nearly synonymous with fall in a marketing triumph that goes far beyond the product itself. “It kind of amazes me as a marketer, year over year,” Thomas Prather, VP of marketing at Starbucks, told CNN. And they’re continuing to build on that success with an all-out assault on fall with new products that bolster the brand as a whole. It’s a powerful case study in how to turn a product into a perennial PR .
  • A federal judge ruled earlier this week that art created by AI does not have copyright protection, Adweek reported. This means that any art created exclusively via artificial intelligence with no human involvement cannot be copyrighted — a major milestone in the slow but steady evolution of the laws around how AI will fit into our work and our lives. Art remains one of the most contentious areas of generative AI — tread cautiously and remember that human creativity cannot be replaced.

Allison Carter is executive editor of PR Daily. Follow her on Twitter or LinkedIn.


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