We’re going to laugh about this a lot, because we know deep down that in an anti-Trump media landscape, this sort of epic screwup is only going to advance Rachel Maddow’s career.
Early in the day, Maddow Tweeted a wild teaser for her evening broadcast that had the political media buzzing.
BREAKING: We’ve got Trump tax returns. Tonight, 9pm ET. MSNBC.
— Rachel Maddow MSNBC (@maddow) March 14, 2017
This story seemed BIG LEAGUE. Finally, the truth would be revealed about Donald Trump!
The reality? Not so much. As liberal magazine Slate notes, Maddow turned the event into “a self-defeating spectacle.” Maddow promised tax returns in a matter of moments, and then meandered through a rambling, incoherent 20 minute monologue that reminded television viewers why they never watch MSNBC. As Slate’s Willa Paskin put it:
The longer Maddow went on, ever deeper into a conspiratorial thicket, the clearer it became that whatever tax returns Maddow had, they weren’t as juicy as the ones she was talking about. If she had anything that damning, she would have shared them from the start. TV is a ratings game, but an entire episode about highly damaging tax returns is just as likely to get you great ratings as milking the possibility that you have highly damaging tax returns, and less likely to get you compared to Geraldo. Maddow even went so far as to hold the tax returns back until after the first commercial break, as if we were watching an episode of The Bachelor and not a matter of national importance—because we weren’t, in fact, watching a matter of national importance, just a cable news show trying to set a ratings record.
So what was the big revelation? That Trump paid an effective tax rate of 25 percent. Tucker Carlson put that in a context that MSNBC viewers can appreciate:
That’s right. MSNBC’s big revelation was that Donald Trump pays more in taxes than committed progressives Barack Obama and Bernie Sanders.
This “reveal” was such a disaster that Democrats are now speculating that it was a stunt orchestrated by the Trump campaign.