Most of the time, this journalist feels bad if he sees someone mortified in front of an audience. I’ve been there before and it doesn’t feel good. At all. So, I naturally don’t like anyone to feel that way.
However, Rachel Maddow is an exception after her stupendous gaffe involving Donald Trump’s tax returns Tuesday night on her NBC show. That’s because she finally outed herself for what she really is (no, not a lesbian, we already knew that), which is an overly biased, unprofessional agenda promoting, audience misleading, fake news journalist. All of which is the antithesis what good news anchors are supposed to be.
Move over Geraldo and Capone’s vault, because Rachel Maddow is now the queen of news blunder jokes after somehow scooping President Trump’s 1040 tax return from 2005 and then revealing that he actually paid 25% or $38 million in taxes.
*cue the failure wah wah wah music*
It actually is somewhat unfair to compare Geraldo’s letdown with the Capone vault to this comedy of errors. For those of you unfamiliar, almost 31 years ago, a system of underground tunnels, an escape route and a gigantic vault were found after the Lexington Hotel, where notorious gangster Al Capone lived for a period of time, was renovated. The giant vault was thought to contain potentially dead bodies or oodles of gold or jewels or cash or whatnot. It was the whole mystery of “What’s in Capone’s Vault?” that was used as a marketing hype. Geraldo had the story and it was shown.
Sadly for Geraldo, when the vault doors were opened, there was nothing there but some bottles that indicated the vault had been used for smuggling more than likely, but no jewels. No gold. No mounds of cash. No dead bodies. Just an empty dirty dark room that had Geraldo right in the middle of a letdown being broadcast on national tv.
But where Geraldo breaks off from Maddow is he certainly didn’t know what was inside the vault ahead of time and I don’t think he had the option to find out. Nobody knew what was inside that vault, nobody alive to their knowledge anyway. It still was a unique story because it also featured the underground aspect of the gangster life and it showed how Capone was concerned enough to create a secret escape route. It just was better suited for a documentary not national news. The mistake there, was assuming that there was something in the vault and hyping everything beforehand.
Maddow on the other hand should’ve known because she had the documents. All she had to do was READ THEM. I’m convinced she didn’t. I can’t know exactly what happened, but I can speculate and I’m a pretty good guesser.
My theory: Once Maddow got her hands on the return, she was so giddy that she had the documents that she forwent the rational train of thought. That’s the only explanation I can give as to why she’d be dumb enough to not read the tax return and check. Granted, it’s well known that Donald Trump had a gigantic loss of nearly a billion dollars in the early 90s, and under tax law, you can use a loss like that as a way to offset paying taxes until you receive enough income to overcome that loss. Since it was nearly a billion dollars, some pundits theorized that would be enough for him to not pay taxes for two decades.
Still those are THEORIES. Good theories and believable yes, but still worth a check. Every journalism professor on the planet would tell the student to read the document and check the evidence before printing/announcing something.
But Maddow was so sure that Trump used tax loopholes, perfectly legal tax loopholes mind you, that she didn’t even read the copy or at least read it thoroughly. I can’t imagine she knew exactly what she was doing because it isn’t a juicy story if he pays $38 million in taxes, the juicy story is a billionaire paying zip or pennies not 25% of his annual income.
There’s no way on God’s green earth would she hype to the world that Donald Trump is actually a tax-paying citizen. She has shown she clearly hates the man. On election night, she point-blank stated on national television to her audience that: “This isn’t a nightmare. This is real,” about Trump becoming president. What neutral journalist says that?
To back my theory on overexcitement, it was about three o’clock in the afternoon when she went to Twitter and excitedly stated that she had obtained President Trump’s “tax returns,” and then basically said: ‘Oh, I’m going to break this live on my national show so tune in,’ so she could cash in on the high ratings that such a discovery would be sure to draw. She played a move similar to LeBron James’s when he left Cleveland for Miami, he announced it on this radio show that drew millions of listeners to hear him say, “I’m taking my talents to South Beach,” or something similar.
However, in her excitement, she forgot to mention that she only had one return and had to send out a subsequent tweet clarifying it was the 2005 return. Certainly not the same as 15-20 years of returns by any means. But still, people were going to watch her show.
I can’t say whether it was eagerness or fear that she might get scooped, but Maddow clearly jumped the gun and basically tried to leap the Grand Canyon without looking. Then once the White House scooped her and announced the details, she certainly couldn’t cancel her own show. So she did what she had to. Face the music, admit on national TV that she got Trump’s tax return, something the entire left, liberal, and Democratic Party side has wanted to see, and tell the world that Donald Trump pays a ton of money in taxes. Not the story she wanted by any means.
Because the liberal-minded Maddow wanted to make Donald Trump look terrible. She wanted to make him look unpatriotic because he didn’t pay taxes to help his government. She wanted to try to turn the middle and lower class people working on paychecks and midlevel salaries into resenting him. She wanted the entire world to hate this man because he’s so rich; why is he so rich etc. type of emotional manipulation and it blew up in her face like a Wiley Coyote scheme. All that was missing was a cartoon depiction of a roadrunner with a Donald Trump toupee saying: “Meep meep!”
As a journalist, I hold the same high standards for all my colleagues whether it is those who are working in college, at a local or national newspaper, a magazine, a highly viewed blog, a YouTube channel, a local form of radio or TV, or even a national form of radio or TV. I hold the same standards to Ms. Rachel Maddow at NBC as I do Charles Bryce of the San Angelo Standard Times, Rick “Goose” Gosselin of the Dallas Morning News, or Philip Rucker at the Washington Post.
These standards are tell the whole truth and to paraphrase The Godfather: “Make it business, not personal.”
Whether or not a new reporter likes President Trump is irrelevant. The same principle applies to any political figure whether it’s him or Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders, Ted Cruz, Mike Lee or someone really controversial like David Duke, your job is to report the news. Not use it to try to sabotage any one person against the public for the sake of either a political or ratings-driven agenda. That’s unprofessional and it’s dangerous too because it incites the public.
Rachel Maddow has forgotten this and I hope journalism professors never let her forget that because this should be played in every classroom. Because this is a perfect example of what not to do. Of what not to become. Of how not to act. A lesson on how to avoid becoming fake biased junk news in the news world.
How to not be Rachel Maddow.