This image released by NBC shows Rachel Maddow, host of "The Rachel Maddow Show," on MSNBC. Maddow was at the center of the political media universe Tuesday, March 14, 2017, with a story on President Donald Trump’s tax returns. (MSNBC via AP)
Cox Media Group National Content Desk
On Tuesday night, MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow tweeted that she had some of President Donald Trump’s income tax returns and would be sharing them with her viewers a couple of hours later on her nightly show.
Maddow’s tweet was initially met with anticipation by those on social media, but, soon after, questions arose about why MSNBC would wait for nearly two hours to reveal the contents of the return.
After Maddow revealed the income tax information -- it was a two-page “client copy” of a 2005 tax return by Trump -- both liberals and conservatives seemed to wonder what the hype was about.
The White House released the contents of the tax return in between Maddow's tweet and when she revealed it on her show, saying in a statement, "Despite this substantial income figure and tax paid, it is totally illegal to steal and publish tax returns. The dishonest media can continue to make this part of their agenda, while the President will focus on his, which includes tax reform that will benefit all Americans."
Here is what some media outlets are saying about the way Maddow and MSNBC went about releasing the information.
Shattuck: Rachel Maddow left with nothing after fake news report
“MSNBC's Rachel Maddow teed up a major scoop about President Donald Trump's taxes on Tuesday night -- only to end up disappointing many in the political-media establishment with a report that was widely characterized as overhyped. …
That information was based on two pages of an IRS 1040 form supplied to journalist David Cay Johnston, who was a guest on Maddow's show.
By the time Maddow got around to sharing that information, it had already been supplied by the White House and published on The Daily Beast, where Johnston is a columnist. Even so, the documents left the public with more questions than answers.”
Rachel Maddow Lands a Scoop, Then Makes Viewers Wait
“Rachel Maddow had a big scoop, and she handled it her way.
With a single tweet on Tuesday, Ms. Maddow, the MSNBC anchor, set the political world ablaze, announcing at 7:36 p.m. that she was poised to reveal previously unseen tax records from President Trump on her 9 p.m. program. (“Seriously,” Ms. Maddow added.)
In the need-it-this-instant world of online news, 84 minutes struck some journalists as an awfully long time to wait. The White House took advantage, releasing a pre-emptive statement that detailed Mr. Trump’s tax figures from 2005 before MSNBC had a chance to air its own report. The Daily Beast and other news outlets ran items as well. …
The revelation itself, however, was held back until after the first commercial break, a windup that some fellow journalists, eager for any bombshells, found exceedingly lengthy.”
Twitter Explodes Waiting for Rachel Maddow to Expose Donald Trump’s Tax Returns — Only to Be Let Down
“At 7:36 p.m. Tuesday night, Rachel Maddow tweeted “BREAKING: We've got Trump tax returns. Tonight, 9pm ET. MSNBC. (Seriously),” sending the internet into a frenzy of theorizing. Did Maddow have Donald Trump’s tax returns or just one of the Trumps’ tax returns? Could this be it, the tax return that would bring down the Donald? If this was it, why wasn't MSNBC cutting into its programming, instead of running a countdown clock to Maddow’s show?
By 8:24, Maddow was tweeting that the tax return in question was Donald Trump’s 1040 from 2005. By 8:30, still half an hour before Maddow started airing, the White House had responded to the MSNBC report, saying that Trump had paid $38 million on income of $150 million that year. An hour later, about 20 minutes after The Rachel Maddow Show started, Maddow would confirm these numbers, turning her big scoop about Donald Trump’s long-missing tax returns into a cautionary tale about overhype. Rachel Maddow, you played yourself—and us too.”