Rachel Maddow Turned a Scoop on Donald Trump’s Taxes Into a Cynical, Self-Defeating Spectacle

At 7:36 p.m. Tuesday, 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.

 

Rachel Maddow Turned a Scoop on Donald Trump’s Taxes Into a Cynical, Self-Defeating Spectacle

Willa PaskinWILLA PASKIN

Willa Paskin is Slate’s television critic.

“It’s been a little bit of a hullabaloo around here this evening, I apologize for being flustered,” Maddow said at the top of the hour, before confirming that her show had copies of Donald Trump’s federal tax returns, obtained by the reporter David Cay Johnston, to share with her audience. “In just a second we’re going to show you exactly what it is we’ve got,” she said, before launching, instead, into a 20-minute monologue. Maddow seemed uncharacteristically nervous as she wended her way though what could kindly be described as context and which I am unkindly describing as word salad, a long meander that was difficult to follow even without the distracting promise of a revelatory tax return at its end.

The monologue started contextually enough, with a long-winded skewering of Trump’s refusal to share his tax returns that touched on Richard Nixon, the Clintons, and his unaudited tax forms, before veering off conspiratorially. “Whether or not you are a supporter of Donald Trump,” Maddow said, “It ought to give you pause that his explanations [for not releasing his tax returns] have never made any factual sense. … When you get an excuse from them that doesn’t make sense, you have to look for another reason. What’s the real explanation? Well, choose your own adventure.” She then launched into a long hypothetical about a particular Russian oligarch’s possible relationship to Trump that touched on Florida real estate, Deutsche Bank, and Preet Bharara that Trump’s tax returns—though not, as it would turn out, the ones she actually had—could conceivably clear up.

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.

After the first break—at which point the tax returns were already available on the internet and glossed by the Daily Beast—Maddow was joined by Johnston, and she began by asking him how he knew Trump hadn’t sent the returns himself. Johnston said that he could have. A few hours after Maddow finished airing, this has become a popular conspiracy theory, simply because, if Donald Trump were to share any of his tax returns, the 2005 1040 seems like a good candidate. Trump paid taxes at a rate of around 4 percent, but because of the alternate minimum tax, he also paid an additional $31 million. The form revealed that, rather than not paying taxes and making no money, Trump paid $38 million on $150 million in income. Maddow promised to pull a sordid revelation out of a hat and instead plucked out … Trump’s credibility? Maddow was soon parsing, asking Johnston to explain that Trump is currently trying to do away with the AMT, which, unfair as it may be, still wouldn’t change the amount he paid in 2005.

As the show went on, it became clear that Maddow knew she didn’t quite have the scoop that had been promised. “What would we have to see, what would we hope to get in mail,” she asked Johnston, “if we were going to get to the real meat of Donald Trump’s foreign ties?”—i.e., what would be more meaningful than the tax form that we have? Speaking to Chris Hayes and Johnston, she said, “The story here to me is, a) we have obtained this [tax form], b) that this stuff is obtainable.” “BREAKING: Trump’s tax returns theoretically obtainable. Tonight, 9 p.m. ET. MSNBC. (Seriously)” does make for a less rousing tweet.

Trump’s tax returns, whatever information they happen to contain, constitute a major scoop. Maddow’s social media team ensured the highest possible ratings for that scoop. But if ever a story should have been delivered in a stentorian, fuddy-duddy, nonpartisan manner, this was it. In positioning it as a grand revelation, a vital step in comprehending Trump’s corruption, MSNBC created an exceedingly cynical spectacle. By playing into the network’s loyal liberal audience’s fantasy that there exists a Trump silver bullet, it instead delivered Trump a positive news cycle—the guy pays taxes! Who knew!—amidst the debacle of the American Health Care Aact, along with more evidence that the media is aligned against him. The lesson? Don’t tell us you have news, just tell us the news.

The New York Times Just Memory-Holed This Devastating Obama Admission

ASTONISHING

The New York Times Just Memory-Holed This Devastating Obama Admission

“Obama indicated that he did not see enough cable television to fully appreciate the anxiety after the attacks in Paris and San Bernardino.”

A story published by the New York Times late Thursday night caused some major media waves. The story, which was written by reporters Peter Baker and Gardiner Harris, included a remarkable admission by Obama about his response to the recent terror attacks in Paris and San Bernardino, California.

By Friday morning, however, the entire passage containing Obama’s admission had been erased from the story without any explanation from the New York Times. Here’s the passage that was included in the story when it was published Thursday night, courtesy of CNN’s Brian Stelter:

The version of the New York Times story that was published early Thursday evening indicated that Obama knew he was out of touch with the country on terrorism, and he thought that was due to not watching enough television. Obama critics immediately pounced on the stunning admission from the president, expressing shock that he would claim that a lack of TV time was the real reason for him not understanding Americans’ anxiety about terrorism.

CABLE

As of Friday morning, however, the passage containing Obama’s admission was gone. Newsdiffs.org, a web site which captures changes made to online news stories, indicates that the major revision to the NYT story happened late on Thursday night, several hours after the story was published (text with a red background and strike-through is text that was eliminated from the story; text with a green background is text that was added to the story since its last revision):

NYT Newsdiffs Cable TV Obama

The original headline when the story was first published was “Obama Visiting National Counterterrorism Center.” Less than two hours later, the headline was “Obama, at Counterterrorism Center, Offers Assurances On Safety.” Then the headline was changed to “Frustrated by Republican Critics, Obama Defends Muted Response to Attacks.” Two hours later, the headline was once again revised to “Under Fire From G.O.P., Obama Defends Response to Terror Attacks.” The most recent headline revision, which accompanied the deletion of the passage where Obama admitted he didn’t understand the American public’s anxiety about terrorism, now reads, “Assailed by G.O.P., Obama Defends His Response To Terror Attacks.”

REVISION

 

In his meeting with the columnists, Mr. Obama indicated that he did not see enough cable television to fully appreciate the anxiety after the attacks in Paris and San Bernardino, and made clear that he plans to step up his public arguments. Republicans were telling Americans that he is not doing anything when he is doing a lot, he said.

The unexplained deletion of that major passage wasn’t the only significant change made to the story since it was first published. New York Timeseditors also changed the story’s headline four separate times, according toNewsdiffs.org. Each headline revision either put Obama in a better light or put the GOP in a worse one.

Media blacking out murder trial of Abortion Butcher.

Philadelphia abortion clinic horror: Column

Kirsten Powers8:49 p.m. EDT April 11, 2013

We’ve forgotten what belongs on Page One.

Infant beheadings. Severed baby feet in jars. A childscreaming after it was delivered alive during an abortion procedure. Haven’t heard about these sickening accusations?

It’s not your fault. Since the murder trial of Pennsylvania abortion doctor Kermit Gosnell began March 18, there has been precious little coverage of the case that should be on every news show and front page. The revolting revelations of Gosnell’s former staff, who have been testifying to what they witnessed and did during late-term abortions, should shock anyone with a heart.

NBC-10 Philadelphia reported that, Stephen Massof, a former Gosnell worker, “described how he snipped the spinal cords of babies, calling it, ‘literally a beheading. It is separating the brain from the body.” One former worker, Adrienne Moton, testified that Gosnell taught her his “snipping” technique to use on infants born alive.

Massof, who, like other witnesses, has himself pleaded guilty to serious crimes, testified “It would rain fetuses. Fetuses and blood all over the place.” Here is the headline the Associated Press put on a story about his testimony that he saw 100 babies born and then snipped: “Staffer describes chaos at PA abortion clinic.”

“Chaos” isn’t really the story here. Butchering babies that were already born and were older than the state’s 24-week limit for abortions is the story. There is a reason the late Democratic senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan called this procedure infanticide.

Planned Parenthood recently claimed that the possibility of infants surviving late-term abortions was “highly unusual.” The Gosnell case suggests otherwise.

Regardless of such quibbles, about whether Gosnell was killing the infants one second after they left the womb instead of partially inside or completely inside the womb — as in a routine late-term abortion — is merely a matter of geography. That one is murder and the other is a legal procedure is morally irreconcilable.

A Lexis-Nexis search shows none of the news shows on the three major national television networks has mentioned the Gosnell trial in the last three months. The exception is when Wall Street Journal columnist Peggy Noonan hijacked a segment   on Meet the Press meant to foment outrage over an anti-abortion rights law in some backward red state.

The Washington Post has not published original reporting on this during the trial andThe New York Times saw fit to run one original story on A-17 on the trial’s first day. They’ve been silent ever since, despite headline-worthy testimony.

Let me state the obvious. This should be front page news. When Rush Limbaugh attacked Sandra Fluke, there was non-stop media hysteria. The venerable NBC Nightly News’ Brian Williams intoned, “A firestorm of outrage from women after a crude tirade from Rush Limbaugh,” as he teased a segment on the brouhaha. Yet, accusations of babies having their heads severed — a major human rights story if there ever was one — doesn’t make the cut.

You don’t have to oppose abortion rights to find late-term abortion abhorrent or to find the Gosnell trial eminently newsworthy. This is not about being “pro-choice” or “pro-life.” It’s about basic human rights.

The deafening silence of too much of the media, once a force for justice in America, is a disgrace.

Kirsten Powers is a member of USA TODAY’s Board of Contributors, a Fox Newspolitical analyst and columnist for The Daily Beast.

Eric Holder: Gun Owners Should ‘Cower’ in Shame Like Smokers

Eric Holder: Gun Owners Should ‘Cower’ in Shame Like Smokers

The hot new video seen here is 1995 footage of Attorney General Eric Holder, when he was the U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia. In his remarks before the Woman’s National Democratic Club, broadcast by CSPAN 2, Holder said people should be ashamed to own guns, just the way that cigarette smokes now “cower outside of buildings” to smoke.

“What we need to do is change the way in which people think about guns, especially young people, and make it something that’s not cool, that it’s not acceptable, it’s not hip to carry a gun anymore, in the way in which we’ve changed our attitudes about cigarettes. You know, when I was growing up, people smoked all the time. Both my parents did. But over time, we changed the way that people thought about smoking, so now we have people who cower outside of buildings and kind of smoke in private and don’t want to admit it.” Laughter followed. (Video below)

At the end of this clip, Holder says anti-gun ads should run every day, and we need to “really brainwash people to think about guns in a vastly different way.”

Don’t be fooled. The debate was a big deal.

Don’t Be Fooled, That Debate Was a Big Deal

By Chris Stirewalt

Mitt Romney beat the britches off of President Obama in their first debate, including the devastating sound bite “you’ve been president for four years.”

It was the most-watched debate in 20 years and was the most decisive victory by a challenger in at least that long, but to look at the news today, you might be tempted to think it really didn’t matter.

Another month of essentially flat job growth is being trumpeted as just the comeback the president needed, with reporters, addicted to the top-line unemployment rate, freaking out about the fact that the measure fell below 8 percent.

(Power Play will spare you another lecture on the irrelevancy of this measure in a stagnant economy. The number to watch to know how people are really doing is the larger measure of those unemployed, underemployed and those who have given up work, which held steady at 14.7 percent.)

Certainly the very presence of an avalanche of favorable, if misleading, economic headlines will give the president a boost. And he certainly needs one given his botch on Wednesday.

The most effective spin from Team Obama so far has been that this kind of thing happens all the time – that incumbents always have trouble in their first debates. Why, just look at Ronald Reagan in 1984 and George W. Bush in 2004, they were off their game, came back and won.

While the long-term spin from Obama and his campaign is that Romney is a liar and a phony who only won by taking advantage of an incumbent too tirelessly committed to honest politics and detailed answers, the most urgent matter is to get the establishment press to minimize the importance of the president’s loss.

Some reporters were on that buggy right away, talking about the “debate curse” of the incumbent even before the first Big Bird Twitter meme had begun. The “curse” concept is picking up speed as is the expectation on the right and left that Obama will be back on his game by the time the two men meet up again for a town-hall debate at Hofstra University.

There is lots of truth in that. The president will come back strong and certainly there will be a phalanx of reporters there to say that the old magic is back and that Obama looked potently presidential.

The Romney Obama contest was the most watched first debate since 1980, when an estimated 80 million viewers watched the only contest between President Jimmy Carter and Ronald Reagan

But don’t be fooled into thinking that what happened on Wednesday was not a massive moment for the race.

Consider the margin of victory. The most frequent comparison for the Obama-Romney debate was that of John Kerry’s win over George W. Bush in the first debate of 2004. Certainly Bush did himself no favors by looking annoyed with his opponent and by muffing several answers.

Since the conventional wisdom holds that this election is a replay of the narrow contest of 2004, with Romney filling the role of doomed Massachusetts politician destined to come just short of victory against an embattled incumbent, the Kerry v. Bush comparison is like catnip on the Obama press plane.

But does it fit?

When CNN polled debate viewers about who won the 2004 match up, 53 percent said Kerry had won, while 37 percent said Bush won, the remaining 10 percent call it a tie – it was a decisive win that helped Kerry erase what had been a steady lead for Bush heading into the home stretch. It was the magic moment for the challenger who seemed headed for a big defeat.

How did Romney score by comparison? CNN’s post-debate poll this time found 67 percent believed Romney won compared to 25 percent for Obama, with 8 percent calling it a draw. Based on debate scores alone, the “cursed” Bush of 2004 looks like Daniel Webster compared to Obama.

What about eyeballs? More than 62 million viewers watched Kerry and Bush duke it out eight years ago. For Romney and Obama, it was more than 67 million, plus millions more watching online.

The Romney Obama contest was the most watched first debate since 1980, when an estimated 80 million viewers watched the only contest between President Jimmy Carter and Ronald Reagan. This year’s mile-high smackdown was the most watched of any debate since the second contest of 1992.

And it’s that debate that may prove the most instructive for this year. That was the first-ever town-hall contest, pitting struggling incumbent George H.W. Bush against challengers Bill Clinton and Ross Perot.

That was the debate in which Bush, already tagged as out-of-touch, kept checking his watch as if to say “Are we done here? I have a government to run.” Obama’s grimacing, downcast look said very much the same thing, as did his dismissive tone toward the challenger. Voters didn’t think Bush the elder had earned a second term and wanted to see him work for it. The same is true for Obama.

You will see lots of stories suggesting that today’s jobs report will put Obama back on track. But Bush the elder actually had an improving economy in 1992, measurably better than the one Obama is lugging this time.

While media slant will help Obama make lemons out of lemonade at every moment possible, it isn’t enough to roll back what happened on Wednesday when Mitt Romney all at once became a plausible alternative.

With voters hungry for change in Washington, that’s a perilous thing for Obama.

Where is the outrage?

 

Where is the outrage?

 

Last Sunday night Trent Dilfer referring to the stupid call by replacement NFL referees in a game between Seattle and Green Bay said, “America, you should be outraged by this insult to your intelligence.” The fact is that America was outraged and forced an end to the strike by the regular referees.

However, when I heard Dilfer say we should be outraged I actually thought he was going to mention Obama.  What does it say about our nation can express more outrage over a blown call in football than over a hideous failure who has the power to destroy America’s future? 

He lies again and again and escapes punishment.  He carries malice toward our nation and glories in bringing it down. I am certain that many nights he says to himself, “I can’t believe we are getting away with this.”

I am convinced that the most evil part of Obama is about to unfold.  I believe that if Obama does not win legally, he has plans to fix the election.  The media will complying by bending facts and censoring criticism. The government knows this that is why they are preparing for massive civil unrest.

I believe that Obama has come to the place where he is bold enough to do this because of the outrage he has avoided lately.  Here are the two most glaring examples:

Fact: On September 11, 2012, 4 American diplomats were killed by Al Qaeda and Obama lied about what he knew and when he knew it.  The weapons used, proved it was preplanned, and had nothing to do with a cheesy home movie about Islam.  Obama knew this attack was coming days in advance, missed vital intelligence briefings, and did not secure the embassy in Libya.

This blatant negligence, cover up and pandering to Islam is a crime that far exceeds Watergate, and yet no national outrage because of the media. They punish the opponents of Obama and blunt national outrage.  Obama can use this same propaganda machine to tamp down anger over his manipulation of election results.

Fact: There is compelling evidence that our government knows that massive civil unrest is coming right after the election.  A rash of solicitations by federal agencies for hollow point bullets in recent months has stoked fears that the government is preparing for civil unrest caused by a financial collapse on a scale similar or even larger to scenes already witnessed in Europe over the last two years.

The Social Security Administration is set to purchase 174,000 rounds of hollow point bullets that will be delivered to 41 locations across the country.  An online ammunition retailer describes the bullets as suitable “for peak performance rivaling and sometimes surpassing hand loads in many guns,” noting that the ammo is “a great personal defense bullet.”

They expect Obama policies to collapse our economy.  Social security welfare is estimated to keep around 40 per cent of senior citizens out of poverty. Should the tap run dry in the aftermath of an economic collapse which the Federal Reserve has already told top banks to prepare for, domestic disorder could ensue if people are refused their benefits.

the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has put out a contract for 46,000 rounds of hollow point bullets along with 500 paper targets.

Despite initially asking the bullets to be delivered to the National Weather Service, NOAA claimed this was a “clerical error” and insisted the ammunition was being sent to the Fisheries Office of Law Enforcement. Why powerful hollow point bullets that are designed to tear apart internal organs are needed for practice shooting at paper targets has not been explained.

Back in March, Homeland Security purchased 450 million rounds of .40-caliber hollow point bullets that are designed to expand upon entry and cause maximum organ damage, prompting questions as to why the DHS needed such a large amount of powerful bullets merely for training purposes.

Indeed, earlier this year the Department of Homeland Security ran a drill called Operation Shield which included turning the entrance of a Florida Social Security office into a checkpoint manned by Federal Protective Service officers armed with semiautomatic rifles.

A rash of solicitations by federal agencies for hollow point bullets in recent months has stoked fears that the government is preparing for civil unrest caused by a financial collapse on a scale similar or even larger to scenes already witnessed in Europe over the last two years.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has put out a contract for 46,000 rounds of hollow point bullets along with 500 paper targets.

Despite initially asking the bullets to be delivered to the National Weather Service, NOAA claimed this was a “clerical error” and insisted the ammunition was being sent to the Fisheries Office of Law Enforcement. Why powerful hollow point bullets that are designed to tear apart internal organs are needed for practice shooting at paper targets has not been explained.

Back in March, Homeland Security purchased 450 million rounds of .40-caliber hollow point bullets that are designed to expand upon entry and cause maximum organ damage, prompting questions as to why the DHS needed such a large amount of powerful bullets merely for training purposes.

The DHS also recently purchased a number of bullet-proof checkpoint booths that include ‘stop and go’ lights.

I am not abandoning my calling by writing this to you, I am fulfilling it.  You may ask me for an encouraging and some direction.  That will come later but right now  I have got to ask, where is the outrage?