Nets Use Tax Day to Demand Trump's Tax Returns, Ignore Taxpayer Views

Paying taxes is almost universally hated — especially on Tax Day — when it is fresh on the minds of everyone who filed their 1040.

But instead of focusing on the attitudes of taxpayers or even the amount of money the federal government takes from citizens, the networks had other priorities. Like beating up President Donald Trump over his tax returns.

In fact, out of the six morning and evening network news shows on April 18, four criticized the president for not releasing his tax returns (ABC’s Good Morning America, NBC’s Today, CBS Evening News and NBC Nightly News). The other two, CBS This Morning and ABC World News Tonight, simply didn’t discuss tax day.

All four network broadcasts that brought up his tax returns suggested Trump may have difficulty passing tax reform because of it. But none mentioned the April 2017 Gallup poll that found 51 percent of voters say their taxes are too high.

“Today is tax filing day,” NBC Today co-host Matt Lauer said, “President Trump’s coming under new fire for refusing to release his returns. The last president who didn’t do it, Richard Nixon.”

Good Morning America used weekend anti-Trump protests as a springboard to discuss Trump’s tax returns.

“What democrats are saying is they want to see Donald Trump’s tax returns before they agree to anything on tax reform because they want to know how the tax changes would affect Trump and the Trump organization,” ABC chief White House correspondent Jonathan Karl said, as clips of protesters played alongside the report. 

“With Americans talking taxes, Trump is too,” NBC Nightly News chief White House correspondent Hallie Jackson said, but Trump’s “tax overhaul could be over before it begins, with Democrats warning they won’t play ball unless the president releases his returns.”

“There’s still a good deal of mystery over the president’s finances,” CBS Evening News anchor Scott Pelley said as he introduced a two minute, 24-second segment on Trump’s tax returns.

CBS This Morning and ABC World News Tonight, the two broadcast shows which did not cover Trump’s tax returns, did not even mention that April 18 was Tax Day this year.

Since Trump’s election, ABC, CBS and NBC have overlooked several polls showing voters want lower taxes. But they did cover other polls, including Trump’s negative approval ratings and surveys on whether voters liked the proposed Obamacare replacement.

Aly Nielsen
Aly Nielsen
Alatheia Larsen is a staff writer and research analyst for MRC Business.