The violence is coming from only one side

The violence is coming from only one side.  The shooting of a Republican politician is a horrifying development but not surprising.  The call to tone down the rhetoric on both sides sounds rational but it is wholly misguided because it assumes there is equal blame on the right and left.

Here is the news:

  James Hodgkinson, 66, died in hospital after being shot by Capitol Police at the baseball field in Virginia 

  He was a staunch Democrat who documented his hatred for President Trump on social media pages

  Hodgkinson moved from his home in Illinois to Virginia two months ago and had been living out of his car

  He has a long criminal history which includes punching a woman in the face in 2006 and disrupting police 

  Steve Scalise, the House Majority Whip, is in a critical condition after being shot by the gunman at 7am

  He was taking part in a GOP practice session with other politicians when Hodgkinson opened fire on them 

  Two Capitol Police officers who were there to protect Scalise bravely returned fire on the gunman 

  They were injured along with lobbyist Matt Mika and congressional staffer Zachary Barth but all are expected to recover

I ask you…are conservatives rioting, burning threatening or shooting Democratic politicians?  Do you see widespread civil unrest fomenting among Trump supporters?  Do conservative comedians hold up bloody heads of Hillary or cheer plays that depict the assassination of Obama?
The left wants to destroy civil discourse.  Democratic leaders use F-bombs in their speeches help win voters.  What kind of mind are you appealing to?  “Hey, I want to vote for that party, they cuss.”
The main reason conservatives don’t cuss or make violent remarks is because of their convictions.  The other big reason is that, unlike the left, they will not get away with anything.  The media runs cover for all incendiary speech from the left.
A liberal can say or do almost anything—and they have.  Madonna said she wants to blow up the White House.  Not one liberal leader condemned her.  Violence, rioting and hate speech is the domain of the left.
Yet, the most innocent remark from a conservative is dissected, reformulated and reworded to be racist, homophobic, islamophobic and all the other labels we are sick of hearing.
To suggest that the shooting was the result of rhetoric on both sides is like telling a rape victim, “you shouldn’t have dressed provocatively.”   Unless we admit that one side is being unfairly targeted, censored and persecuted there will be no justice and violence will escalate.
Look righteously at the situation:  One side can say and do almost anything they want because movies stars, the media, and celebrities don’t like the beliefs of the other side.  That’s not the America our founders had in mind.
The media—if it still had the capacity—should be ashamed.  You don’t exercise a freedom to destroy another freedom.  Freedom of the press is not a club to destroy freedom of speech.  The Democratic party and the media’s tacit approval of dictatorial colleges, riots, and threats of violence is causing this escalation.
Our president is being crucified for things for which there is zero evidence of wrong doing.  The left does not care about the harm it is doing to freedom—the end justifies their means.  All God-fearing people should speak out and be in fervent prayer for this monster to be exposed.

DEAR LEFT: BE CAREFUL WHAT YOU WISH FOR

You’re salivating at the thought of throwing Trump out of office.  Be careful what you wish for.  You are truly in a lose-lose situation.
Let me say upfront—I want Donald Trump to remain president.  I believe he will remain president…and then some.
I know, I know…some Christians are wringing their hands at all the drama going on right now.  But I am at total peace.  These histrionics are simply proof of two things: President Trump is not a politician; and no one knew the monsters that would crawl out as the swamp was being drained.
Trump is impulsive?  In a zombie apocalypse, you must act fast!
So, go ahead and dump him.  Bring to power the most committed Christian who has ever been president.
Don’t get me wrong I respect Donald Trump, I believe he is a man of faith, but I might not crown him theologian of the year.  Mike Pence, on the other hand, knows the Bible well.  He will take a strong stand for godly principles.
He is even more socially conservative than Donald Trump.   Mike Pence is stronger on abortion, marriage than Trump.  For social progressives, this is exit frying pan enter fire.
The new MAGA would read Make America Godly Again.
 And if you think you can throw him out of office with the tactics you use on Donald Trump, consider the Mike Pence temperament.  He is calm, measured, listens before he speaks, uses few words and leads a squeaky clean personal life.  He is the yellow journalist’s worst nightmare.
I can’t wait for Stephen Colbert, Rachel Maddow and Don Lemon to try to tell us what an evil person Mike Pence is.
Remember the vice-presidential debate?  Recall how he reduced Tim Kaine to a caterwauling infant.  The more Mike stayed calm, the shriller Kaine became.  It looked like a school principal talking to a hysterical junior higher.
Instead of the zingers from Trump (which I love) you will get the rational, considered opinion that demolishes stupid questions. (Which I also love).  You really want that?
Mike Pence also has bi-partisan support—even from those that disagree with his convictions.
Left-wing God haters rest between the proverbial rock and a hard place.  For those who want one nation under God Mike Pence is an answer to prayer.
However, Trump is also an answer to prayer.  He is the wrecking ball to corruption in both Democrats and Republicans that we so desperately needed.  Late news bulletin:  Trump will not be impeached or thrown out of office.  Donald Trump will fulfill his destiny.
However, the thought of a president Mike Pence gives me a glorious feeling.  The feeling is called win-win.

 

MR PRESIDENT, JUST STOP TALKING TO THE PRESS

 

Take it from a preacher—you need to stop talking to the press.  They have sold themselves to toppling you.  They are as far from journalism as the east is from the west.
Consider this verse from the Bible the next time you are tempted to answer one of their stupid questions: “Do not answer a fool according to his folly, lest you also be like him. – Proverbs 26:4
I write this to you because I have heard from people I trust that you love Jesus.  I also believe you love America.  It’s as a brother that I write this.
You have more important things to do!  Media banalities throw you off your game.  They try to use your competitive nature against you.   Let me invoke some New York City wisdom: fuhgeddaboudit.
Just keep on making America great again.  The people that matter—the American people—will see the results and support you.
Mr. President, the same constitution which guarantees freedom of the press, guarantees freedom from the press—especially when it is no longer the press.
You already know this: North Eastern colleges spew out 89% of our “journalists”.  It was in these hallowed halls that accurate reporting was chloroformed.  Truth, accuracy, fairness and honesty were all sacrificed on the altar of “secular progressivism.”

In this cult, the global order must come no matter what the cost.  America must be diminished by open borders, the destruction of the family, and the eradication of our Judaeo/Christian values.  You, dear president, stand in the way of all of this.
I am trying to Mirandize you against the press: anything you do say, can and will be used against you.
Please read what Jesus said to understand the media: “Luke 7: 31 And the Lord said, “To what then shall I liken the men of this generation, and what are they like? 32 They are like children sitting in the marketplace and calling to one another, saying:  ‘We played the flute for you, And you did not dance; We mourned to you, And you did not weep.’
33 For John the Baptist came neither eating bread nor drinking wine, and you say, ‘He has a demon.’ 34 The Son of Man has come eating and drinking, and you say, ‘Look, a glutton and a winebibber, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!’
Do you see the comparison?  The liberal media wanted James Comey fired.  Every Democratic leader called for his head.  Firing James Comey was noble and right…until you did it.
Until accurate reporting makes a comeback, nothing you say or do will be right.  Ignore them.

HOW TO PRAY FOR PRESIDENT TRUMP NOW

An epic rebuke to CNN and Obama and Hillary: When asked to condemn Trump’s travel ban after we hit Assad’s airbase, a Syrian victim instead says, “Thank you President Trump!”  “you are all hypocrites. We don’t want to be refugees. For seven years, you did nothing!  Finally, Trump has punished Assad!”

HOW TO PRAY FOR PRESIDENT TRUMP NOW

By Mario Murillo

An epic rebuke to CNN and Obama and Hillary: When asked to condemn Trump’s travel ban after we hit Assad’s airbase, a Syrian victim instead says, “Thank you President Trump!”  “You are all hypocrites. We don’t want to be refugees. For seven years, you did nothing!  Finally, Trump has punished Assad!”

In a moment only God could have orchestrated, President Trump has triumphed and the lies of the Obama years have been exposed.  In one fell swoop—and even as the prime minister of China was present—Our president told North Korea, Iran, Assad, Russian and the world that we are back and the free world has a leader.

Here is an amazing result:

“What we are seeing right now, in the wake of Donald Trump launching retaliatory airstrikes against Syria, is a rally-round-the-president effect.

As the media shift to war footing, the tone of the coverage has dramatically changed, from whether Trump is a bumbling leader to how decisive he was in responding to Bashir al-Assad’s horrifying chemical attack.

And the natural instinct to support the commander-in-chief when he orders military action is a good thing—as long as it doesn’t go too far.

Trump is benefiting from two factors. One is the stark contrast with Barack Obama, who declared a red line against Syria and failed to enforce it in 2013, settling instead for a deal on chemical weapons that obviously didn’t remove all of them from the country.

The other is Hillary Clinton, earlier in the day, saying that the U.S. should bomb Syrian airfields—thus making it harder to argue that no cruise missiles would have been launched if the election had gone the other way.” -Fox News

From out of nowhere a Syrian said what our entire government could not say.  “We do not want to be refugees.  We want safe zones here until we can get our nation back.”

Here is the common-sense solution to the Syrian crisis delivered like a Tomahawk missile into the fake news capitol of the world.

CNN’s unvarnished hatred for Trump will continuously set them up for these embarrassing backfires.

Once again, the left celebrated Trump’s demise too soon.  Once again it all boomerangs in their face.  God’s hand is strong on our Commander in Chief.  Today I am speaking Psalm 41: 10 and 11 over our president.  “But You, O Lord, be merciful to me, and raise me up, That I may repay them. 11 By this I know that You are well pleased with me, Because my enemy does not triumph over me.

How do we pray for President Trump?

-Pray for wisdom beyond human wisdom for him to know what to do next in a highly volatile and complicated world situation.

-Pray protection on him from his enemies in the media and traitors embedded in the deep state rogue government set up by Obama.

-Pray for his health, his emotions, his family and his staff to be protected.

While you are at it, pray for the leaders of the American Church to be convicted by the example of a brave and decisive leader so we will stop delaying revival with carnal and impotent church services.

 

 

 

THE WORD OF THE LORD FOR THIS HOUR

 

Facebook oozes with voices claiming to be prophets or mouthpieces for God.   The internet teems with self-appointed prophets who scream to be heard, bombarding us with “prophetic words.”  Almost all these prophecies shout one of two headlines: AMERICA IS PAST HOPE AND WILL BE DESTROYED.  AMERICA IS FAVORED AND WILL NEVER BE DESTROYED.

The Word of The Lord for this Hour

By Mario Murillo

Facebook oozes with voices claiming to be prophets or mouthpieces for God.   The internet teems with self-appointed prophets who scream to be heard, bombarding us with “prophetic words.”  Almost all these prophecies shout one of two headlines: AMERICA IS PAST HOPE AND WILL BE DESTROYED.  AMERICA IS FAVORED AND WILL NEVER BE DESTROYED.

So, what is the word of the Lord for this hour?  Now hear the word of the Lord!

To autonomously pronounce judgement is to play God.  Doomsdayers are calling off the attack against evil when God has not.  They are sounding a false retreat.  They are making evangelism futile.  They are helping put souls in hell by discouraging soul-winners.

Don’t lie to yourself.  Don’t make up prophecies of judgement just because you are mad at the church.  Face it!  Your righteous indignation may be nothing more than a personal grudge that your ministry was rejected by the church.

However, the great danger is not an abundance of prophets of doom.  It is the false prophets of grace and entitlement who are most dangerous.

In a wonderful book entitled The American Miracle written by Michael Medved, we see astounding and undeniable examples of God stepping in when America seemed beyond hope.  However, these examples are not proof that judgement won’t come.  To assume this is sheer madness.

I want to use George Washington as an example of something that desperately needs to be said to the American church.  Washington died because of medical malpractice.  Back then doctors believed in bleeding sick patients.  Washington was already weak from his sickness—by taking blood out, the doctors made him weaker and finally killed him.  It was the worst thing they could have done.

Listen church!  Cheap grace is bleeding an already weakened church.   It helps set us up for national destruction.   For Satan, this the perfect theology.   Instead of a life-giving conviction and a robust will to fight—this perversion induces drowsiness and apathy.

Why do you think so any of our pastors are closet alcoholics and addicted to porn?  And what can you expect a poisoned vessel to preach on Sunday morning?

Past miracles don’t guarantee future mercy.  They should awaken urgency, overpowering gratitude, humility, and profound soul searching.  Throwing ourselves off the cliff of morality to prove the power of Grace tempts God and provokes wrath.

God is trying to show us the times and what to do: 1 Chronicles 12: 32 “of the sons of Issachar who understood the times, to know what Israel ought to do.” The entire chapter lists the military talent of each tribe of Israel.  This gift was Issachar’s weapon

Next, “prophets” who say America will be destroyed or who say America cannot be destroyed are dead wrong.  We are neither pardoned nor condemned.  Our fate has not yet been decided.

We are living in a moment of mercy: HOW SOON WE FORGET!  We were spared the horror of Hillary—the finishing touch of Obama’s death spiral—a permanently enslaving national debt—A Supreme Court chaining us to anti-God laws, freedom-killing environmentalism—open borders bringing perpetual Democratic control, crime and terrorism.

Trump’s election was a miracle meant to ignite the church.  His time is Washington will be short, ineffective and we will end up worse off than ever if the church fails to obey God.

Trump has had missteps as president.  This does not mean he was not the right choice.  We dare abandon him so soon!  He needs our prayers.  He needs our support.

Here are the precise verses for this hour:  Ezra 9:  8 “And now for a little while grace has been shown from the Lord our God, to leave us a remnant to escape, and to give us a peg in His holy place, that our God may enlighten our eyes and give us a measure of revival in our bondage. 9 For we were slaves. Yet our God did not forsake us in our bondage; but He extended mercy to us in the sight of the kings of Persia, to revive us, to repair the house of our God, to rebuild its ruins, and to give us a wall in Judah and Jerusalem.”

If, after all the mercy God has demonstrated—in a miraculous election—we fail to repent, rise and take our rightful place in America’s future…we can be destroyed.  Listen again to Ezra:

Ezra 9:13 “And after all that has come upon us for our evil deeds and for our great guilt, since You our God have punished us less than our iniquities deserve, and have given us such deliverance as this, 14 should we again break Your commandments, and join in marriage with the people committing these abominations? Would You not be angry with us until You had consumed us, so that there would be no remnant or survivor?”

Wrath comes when you do not properly respond to mercy:  2 Chronicles 32: 25 “But Hezekiah did not repay according to the favor shown him, for his heart was lifted up; therefore, wrath was looming over him and over Judah and Jerusalem.”

Look again at Ezra’s words: but He extended mercy to us in the sight of the kings of Persia, to revive us, to repair the house of our God, to rebuild its ruins, and to give us a wall in Judah and Jerusalem.”

Trump is a temporary reprieve.  Now we must do our part.  We must act on the mercy we have been shown.  He extended mercy so that we would do three things: Revive, Repair and Rebuild. 

Revive: God commands us to seek a fresh outpouring of the Holy Spirit.  We dare not have church without it!  We dare not utter another word in the pulpit that denies it!  The word of the Lord for this hour is: cry out to God with heart of gratitude for a fresh outpouring of the Holy Spirit.

Here is the key promise if we do: 1 Samuel 10: 6 Then the Spirit of the Lord will come upon you, and you will prophesy with them and be turned into another man. 7 And let it be, when these signs come to you, that you do as the occasion demands; for God is with you.

Repair:  The pulpit and our moral compass is broken.  They must be repaired!  Our wiring, plumbing and foundations are damaged.  Abortion and marriage are issues we lost because our leadership was broken.  We abandoned the Bible and did not arm ourselves or the congregation with convictions.

America need Lions who roar from a righteous heart.  Away with secret sin and lukewarm grace.  Prayer will repair.  The voice that shakes hell and frees men and women from bondage is forged only in fervent prayer.  Satan does not respect your stage presence, education or tactics.  He knows a prayless poser.  He only retreats before men and women who have been to Gethsemane.

Rebuild: We must come home to the Glorious Gospel.  We must dismantle all the silly things we have tried to say to this generation.  Forget about rebranding!  We need to rebuild our sermons from the ground up.  Let them be replete with Bible Verses.  Let them talk of the mighty God.  Fill them with content the Holy Spirit can use on lost souls!  The Good News must once again roll off our tongue in the office, on campus and at the mall.

The consequences of cheapening God’s mercy are too terrible to imagine.  The opportunity this miracle has opened is too wonderful to ignore.  That is the word of the Lord for this hour.

 

 

THE BEST THING TO DO NOW

My soul surveyed the nation.  I took in the entire national crisis and prayed “What is the best thing to do now?” 

THE BEST THING TO DO NOW

By Mario Murillo

(Preached at Bethel Church Redding Sunday March 19th 6 PM service.)

I stand before you tonight on the heels of a great dealing of God—perhaps the greatest dealing of God besides my conversion.  God said, “Raise $1 Million—choose 10 cities—invest the money in those cities for a specific outreach and I will start a youth movement.”  The ten cities had to be places that are open wounds.

This mandate led to a personal revelation that I am sharing here for the first time.   My soul surveyed the nation.  I took in the entire national crisis and prayed “What is the best thing to do now?”

There are many candidates for the title of best thing to do.  

Unity is a great choice.  Healing the division in the Body of Christ is a great choice for best thing.  No matter where I go, people have an issue.  The Body is so entrenched in their own camps.

Wouldn’t it be a powerful thing if all of the camps in the Body of Christ would realize that their theology is incomplete and find common ground to pool strength and hit the nation with a tsunami of compassion?

Another great choice is anointed worship music.   Music gets in where sermons cannot.  Music is the only art form that bypasses the brain on its way to the heart.  We saw it with Andrae Crouch, Hosanna integrity, Hillsong, and the Bethel music that has gone global from this very room.

The right choice must be prayer.  How could anyone consider anything to be above the power of prayer and the urgency of prayer?

The fact that none of these is what I feel in my spirit is the best thing to do now.  So if none of these worthy candidates is the best…what is?

To find out we must first ask, “what does now look like?”  Now we have a divided and often lukewarm American church—a church that is long on experience and ignorant of scripture.

Now let’s look outside the church walls:  We have an entire generation raised without church.  Judges 2:10 says, “Judges 2:10 When all that generation had been gathered to their fathers, another generation arose after them who did not know the Lord nor the work which He had done for Israel.”

That—thanks to our universities—is our current problem.  Our classrooms create easily offended, intolerant, fearful students.  They hate free speech if it disagrees with them.  They believe violence should be applied to silence an opposing viewpoint.  Their credo is now: With sticks and stones I’ll break your bones because your words have hurt me.”

They are the generation that can end America.  I call them generation fatal.

Liberalism run amok has unleashed a spirit of violence and lawlessness. I said in a recent blog:  “America is the only nation in history where those who control the money, the airwaves, the press, and the universities, fancy themselves an underground resistance.

We are supposed to believe ABC, NBC, CBS, CNN, The New York Times, The Washington Post, Google, Apple, Microsoft, Hollywood, every Ivy League school, plus the Democratic Party have been driven into underground revolutionary bunkers. We have come to a sad and inexplicable madness where the “Freedom Fighters” are fighting against, well, freedom.  The anti-fascists are the fascists.  In the name of liberation, they are taking dead aim at the Bill of Rights…not just some of it—but all of it.”

This is what now looks like.  Now is pandemic drug addiction.  Now is a crime wave that has reduced inner cities into killing fields.  Now is tyranny in the news media.  Now is duly elected president under siege.  I am not here to burst your blessing bubble but:

-If we refuse to see it because we think it betrays our view of the goodness of God, we can’t obey God for a solution.  We have lost our nation by default.

-If we let a cheapened view of grace weaken our holy resolve and fire.

-If we turn retreat into victory with spiritual self-entitlement…we are not only in sin but we will have to apologize the millions of oppressed Christians around the world.

So what is the best thing we can do now?  It is what I learned one night after having tried everything to reach a riot-torn intellectual bastion called Berkeley.

MARIO MURILLO PREACHING ON THE BERKELEY CAMPUS OCTOBER 4TH 2014

Having tried all of the aforementioned candidates for best thing to do I went on campus late one night.  God was trying to give me the answer but I wouldn’t listen.  I did not know that death awaited me.

It was a dark night on Sproul Plaza.  I approached a flower child, thinking this was easy pickings.  As I witnessed to him a 6 foot 5-inch behemoth grabbed me and proceeded to choke me.  Murder was in his eyes.  It was demonic.  Intellectual debate was useless against this monster.

Instantly I knew where I was wrong and what to do.  It was as I was having the life choked out of me that I discovered the truth that I am going to relate to you.  The power of God—out of mercy—gave me wisdom and boldness.

Somebody else took over my body—words, not of me tumbled from my lips.  I ordered him to take his hands off of me.  I ordered him to back off.  He did.  As he did, he stopped staring at me.  He gazed at something behind me.  It was way taller than him.  He looked startled.  I ran.

As I sprinted home a verse kept roaring in my soul: “not by might nor by power but by My Spirit says the Lord.”  The best thing that could ever happen—the best thing for me to do—was to allow the power of God to collide with the power of Satan in a public place.

Thus began our Saturday Nights of Miracles.  Miracles blasted U.C. Berkeley open.  We even broke through to use the coveted Pauley Ballroom.

Miracles sustained for 10 years and now I must tell you—by the numbers—the best thing to do now:

-The best thing to do now is to break the lie that the miracles that happen in Asia, Africa, and Latin America cannot happen here.  Just as He raises the dead in plain view and multiplies food and water there—it can happen here.  The best thing is to break the glass ceiling we have created for miracles in America.

-Living Proof is the name of our crusades because it will take miracles to the mainstream of American culture.

From every angle our best move now is to be totally grateful for every miracle God has done and be totally starved to see more and greater miracles and to see them where they matter.

Now let me show you from different angles the absolute proof that this is our best move now.

The greatest Christian intellectual who ever lived had just seen—while arguing on Mars Hill in Athens—the futility of debating intellectual culture.  On his trek from there to Corinth a conviction was emblazoned in his soul.  Notice what he said:

1 Corinthians 2: And I, brethren, when I came to you, did not come with excellence of speech or of wisdom declaring to you the testimony of God. 2 For I determined not to know anything among you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified. 3 I was with you in weakness, in fear, and in much trembling. 4 And my speech and my preaching were not with persuasive words of human wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, 5 that your faith should not be in the wisdom of men but in the power of God.

Miracles put a deep foundation in new converts: What I hope will hit you is this: Our best move now is to but a supernatural foundation in new converts—a foundation that cannot be destroyed by a professor, gang leader or a politician.

Miracles force anti-God government to back off:  Acts 4: 14 “And seeing the man who had been healed standing with them, they could say nothing against it. “

When the greatest mind the church ever produced concluded that nothing was to be compared to the miracles of Jesus when combating a perverse culture, it should settle it for us.

These are the miracles that will ignite unity:  Acts 3:11 Now as the lame man who was healed held on to Peter and John, all the people ran together to them in the porch which is called Solomon’s, greatly amazed.

New songs: Psalm 96: 1 Oh, sing to the Lord a new song! Sing to the Lord, all the earth. 2 Sing to the Lord, bless His name; Proclaim the good news of His salvation from day to day. 3 Declare His glory among the nations, His wonders among all peoples.

Prayer: Now I want you to get ready to pray.  Not just any prayer—but the prayer that Peter prayed that let loose a gusher of signs and wonders:  Acts 4: 29 “Now, Lord, look on their threats, and grant to Your servants that with all boldness they may speak Your word, 30 by stretching out Your hand to heal, and that signs and wonders may be done through the name of Your holy Servant Jesus.”31 And when they had prayed, the place where they were assembled together was shaken; and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit, and they spoke the word of God with boldness.”

Miracles are best for neutralizing persecution and the overreach of government.  When Peter left the council who ordered the church not to speak he knew what his best move was.  It is also our best move against the political correctness that has morphed into blatant tyranny.

Note that one thing he wanted was a special boldness.  His precise plea reads like this: Give me the special boldness that comes while you do signs and wonders.

This is the best thing we can do now.  It will crush the ramparts of Satanic power that are killing our country.

Finally, do you think I am being idealistic and naïve? Do you not see that the prime directive of Christ for those charged with spreading His Gospel was exactly what I say we need to do?  Jesus said, John 14: 12 “Most assuredly, I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do he will do also; and greater works than these he will do, because I go to My Father. 13 And whatever you ask in My name, that I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. 14 If you ask anything in My name, I will do it.

Let’s retrace our steps to a childlike hunger and desperation—only this time let it be with an irrefutable passion to let miracles–undeniable confirmed miracles flow in the mainstream of American culture.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.