On Tuesday night, one of the crazier news nights since Election Day occurred when MSNBC host Rachel Maddow failed on a level akin to Geraldo Rivera and Al Capone’s vault when she falsely claimed to have a bombshell exclusive (that wasn’t hers) in the form of President Trump’s 2005 tax returns.
Hilariously, she wasted 22 minutes of viewers’ time by rehashing past monologues on the history of presidential tax returns, implying connections between Trump and various Russian oligarches before discussing the contents of the first two pages from Trump’s 1040 form.
After some meandering about the Bank of Cyprus, Michael Flynn, and Richard Nixon, Maddow went to commercial break before revealing the findings (which featured nothing about foreign government connections or shady characters):
What I have here is a copy of Donald Trump's tax returns. We have his federal tax return for one year for 2005. I believe this is the only set of the president's federal taxes that reporters have ever gotten ahold of. What we have are these two pages front and back from the same 1040 form that you might have filled out when you file your taxes. In terms of what's on here, let me give you the basics. Aside from the numbers being large, these pages are straightforward. He paid $38 million — looks like $38 million in taxes. He took a big write down of $103 million, more on that later. If you add up the lines for income, he made more than $150 million in that year. Mazel tov. We got these pages. We got this document today from a Pulitzer prize winning investigative journalist who's better than almost anybody else in the business. His name is David Cay Johnston. These pages turned up the other day in his mailbox.
Maddow couldn’t even get through the important part of her show without stating another falsehood. Back in October, The New York Times obtained a portion of a Trump tax return from 1995 and, as we reported at NewsBusters, it dominated the headlines.
She also dubbed this “historically unprecedented” and a “potentially historic” “news development,” but it quickly lost steam. Why? The first point was that Maddow herself never actually had the exclusive on this when it was actually anti-Trump journalist David Cay Johnston.
Johnston joined Maddow to discuss the document, but it’s not fair of Maddow to have said it was a “special report” or an “exclusive.” As she babbled on and on, The Daily Beast and The Wall Street Journal, and the White House published the details in question.
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Even more intriguing, some on Twitter noticed that the tax return was stamped “client copy” and Johnston argued that Trump himself or someone close to him did this. If Maddow and company were looking to use this against the President, it may be Trump who played them.
From the first minute of the show when it was clear Maddow was stalling, political Twitter and news sites were swift to tear into her. For Twitter reaction, Brittany Hughes from our sister site MRCTV put together an excellent round-up that, as of this writing, is leading the Drudge Report.
Ben Shapiro’s site The Daily Wire led with the headline “BREAKING: MSNBC Reveals Trump's 2005 Tax Returns. And It's an EPIC FAIL,” as writer James Barrett stated:
After teasing the big reveal leading up to her 9 p.m. show, MSNBC host Rachel Maddow revealed the 2005 tax returns of Donald Trump, which the White House slammed as over a decade old and "illegally published." Unfortunately for Maddow and company, after MSNBC's teaser announcement, complete with a "Trump's Tax Returns" countdown clock, the White House stole her thunder by going ahead and giving America the numbers.
Our friends at Red State had full coverage of Maddow’s epic failure as well. Joe Cunningham joked that “a couple dozen more viewers than normal (including me) tuned in to Rachel Maddow’s show tonight” to see the tax returns. Here’s more from Cunningham:
She opened her show, then, with a 20-minute rambling monologue on the possibilities of what Donald Trump’s taxes could reveal. She tried to tie him to a certain Russian oligarch, attacked his credibility over the tax return issue, and went through a litany of theories.
Then, she went to commercial.
It should be clear to pretty much everyone what just happened: Rachel Maddow trolled us all into watching the first 30 minutes of her show so she could show a ratings spike. That’s where we are right now.
For anyone thinking that it was only Trump supporters and conservative media types ripping Maddow, those folks were sadly mistaken. New York Magazine’s Olivia Nuzzi was not amused, tweeting during Maddow’s opening monologue: “brb gonna watch the titanic real quick while Maddow admires the sound of her own voice.”
Agence French-Presse’s Andrew Beatty wrote that the “lesson for everyone” based on Tuesday is that you “never leak to TV” while ESPN personality Bob Ley tweeted: “[I]f you have news, Rachel, please tell us. soon. I’m not young.”
Once Maddow’s show ended and she was heralded by Last Word host Lawrence O’Donnell as some sort of hero, Donald Trump Jr. also took to Twitter and summarized the feeling among Trump supporters:
Without a doubt, the mockery of Maddow will continue. Be sure to check back with NewsBusters for more on Maddow throughout the night and all day tomorrow.