Like Seinfeld, Rachel Maddow's Trump Tax Return Special Was A Show About Nothing
After the commercial, the tax returns were finally in sight! All... two pages of them. (Two pages??) We got a couple close ups of some large typewriter-ed income figures before we were introduced to our expert. The show's lead guest was David Cay Johnston, an investigative journalist with a Pulitzer Prize and an apparent guru of all things tax related. Johnston is the founder and editor at DCReport.org and claimed he received the two pages of Trump's 2005 return "in the mail over transom" earlier that day.
Surely Mr. Johnston would use his decades of knowledge and insight to deliver a truth bomb!
Instead of using his stated expertise to help explain the significance of the content in the leaked documents (all two of them...), Johnston speculates that Trump himself may have leaked the returns* because (paraphrasing) he's pulled publicity stunts like that in the past and lives in a dream world.
Then Johnston, the tax expert, goes on to tell us (paraphrasing) about a bunch of seedy, criminal types that Trump has spent time around in the past and how richy-rich types like Trump love to use the tax code to their advantage to the detriment of the little guys.
Huh? You're using his tax return and your Pulitzer Prize-level expertise in income taxes to present the same tired, whiny, liberal narrative on how skeezy a dude you believe Trump to be?
I won't recap of the rest of the show because the show didn't contain anything else besides people talking about nothing.
To be clear, it wasn't fake news that occurred here; it was real news that was tremendously over-hyped. And that's unfortunate, since it's likely to add to many people's cynicism regarding the media's role in our democracy. Many will just lump this into the same category as nutzo conspiracies like Pizzagate, mutter things like "Welp, you can't trust anyone nowadays," and further resolve to ignore the "Mainstream Media™" at a time when an informed populace is important.
You already know that old story about the boy who cried wolf, so I won't bore or patronize you with the details. I'll say only that it was a cautionary tale designed to warn against behavior like we saw from Rachel Maddow on Tuesday night.
MSNBC got the attention (i.e. ratings) they were after this time. And maybe this tiny little ice shaving of one year of President Trump's tax returns will be just the tip of big, evidence-filled iceberg to come. But after Tuesday's episode of TRMS, any rational person learned to pay a little less attention to that countdown timer in the bottom right hand corner of the TV screen next time Rachel Maddow claims to have a big story. (Seriously.)*I actually think this may be true, though I don't have a Pulitzer. Images via: Flickr — Twitter — Brent Lee
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