December 8, 2023

Why Rachel Maddow’s Trump tax returns exclusive turned into a dud.

Rachel Maddow

MSNBC anchor Rachel Maddow had an exclusive in her hands but she over played her hand and lost. She had been handed President Donald Trump’s 2005 tax return by tax expert David Cay Johnston, and that was an exclusive, even if it was a return from over a decade ago, and one in which President Trump actually paid a  lot of tax. It was a true exclusive because Trump’s tax returns are a collectors’ item as there aren’t any of them out there. So, despite the importance, or lack of importance of the information contained in the returns,
(depending on how you look at it) it was a piece of story that could have brought better returns for the host and the station if handled correctly.

The build up to the reveal was epic, and it turned out to be the downfall of the whole thing. The excited chase for ratings turned out to be what killed the exclusive, and turned Maddow into a twitter punch line – for a few days, at least.

It was a fatal mistake by Maddow and MSNBC, the hype they tried to build around their exclusive. What that did was to alert the White House about the leak which made them react by preempting the leak. As soon as the White House put out the only real information (that Trump paid $38 million in taxes from an income of $150 million) in the tax return through a press release, it was over for the Rachel Maddow exclusive.

The other news outlets who had been waiting for the much hyped Maddow exclusive ran with the White House release, and Maddow was basically left carrying a dead duck by the time her time slot of 9 pm came around. In the end, all she could do was shamefacedly sit in front of millions of her viewers wondering what could have been, while trying to make the best out of a very bad situation.

The worst part of the whole train wreck was that the exclusive turned out to be in favor of President Trump. I don’t know how Ms Maddow would have spinned it to make President Trump look bad from that story, but I’m sure the fact that the story came out before she could break it made it even harder for her to do.  If there’s one thing no Rachel Maddow fan wants to see, I think it would be her doing anything on her show that could paint the president in a good light, and that’s exactly what her exclusive did in the end. As one CNN pundit put it, “If anybody won from the events of this night, it was President Trump who people now know paid a lot in taxes even when the media has been attacking him as a tax dodger.

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