MSNBC host Rachel Maddow is blaming her fans for over-hyping the Tuesday release of two pages of Donald Trump’s 2005 tax returns, a story that proved Trump paid more in taxes than many of his liberal critics.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTunmp) March 16, 2017
“She thought she had @realDonaldTrump against the ropes and she’s the one who ended up getting KO’d,” Trump tweeted early Thursday.
Maddow posted the message “we’ve got Trump’s tax returns” shortly before her show’s broadcast Tuesday, but Trump released the information himself before the show aired. The documents, which The New York Times reporter David Cay Johnston claims to have received in the mail, ultimately showed Trump earned $150 million in 2005, and paid $38 million in income taxes that year.
Maddow spent 20 minutes of her show Tuesday explaining why the tax return is important, and teased all the possibilities it could reveal, before exposing what Fox News Channel’s Steve Doocy described as “a big nothing burger,” the Associated Press reports.
She spent Wednesday defending against criticism that she over-hyped the documents, and blamed her fans for the let-down.
“Because I have information about the president doesn’t mean that it’s necessarily a scandal,” she said. “It doesn’t mean that it’s damning information. If other people leapt to that conclusion without me indicating that it was, that hype is external to what we did.”
But the network played up Maddow’s scoop with a countdown clock:
She also claimed the long introduction to the reveal on “The Rachel Maddow Show” was by design but not intended to lead views to believe the information was damaging for the president.
“My priority is to get the story right and put it into proper context, and explain the weight of it and why it is important,” Maddow told the AP.
“This is a super interesting first window into his finances, and the question of his finances is a legitimate scandal,” she said.
Regardless, Maddow became a punchline for late night, with Steven Colbert parodying the underwhelming Trump tax reveal on “The Late Show.”
From The Daily Beast:
“I hold in my hands something significant,” Colbert, as Maddow, said in the show’s cold open. “A joke that we have confirmed has been heard by Donald Trump. We believe this is the first time any joke connected with Donald Trump has been released.”
Every time Colbert tried to tell the joke in question — starting with, “Why did the chicken…?” — he cut himself off and went on a tangent to build suspense, just as Maddow did on her show with Trump’s tax return.
“Whether or not you’re a Trump supporter,” Colbert added later, nailing Maddow’s particular mannerisms, “it ought to give you pause that after all of this buildup, I still haven’t gotten to the punchline.”
Colbert summed up the situation like this: “Rachel took us on an emotional rollercoaster because, like a rollercoaster, at the end we were all right back where we started, and feeling a little queasy.”
Maddow, meanwhile, continued to defend the hype on “The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon.”
“I think the reason people were so excited is because it’s really weird that the president hasn’t released his financial information,” Maddow told Fallon. “It’s really odd, and there’s reasons to worry about it.”
“So when we found out that we had one” tax return, she said, “it was like speaking to a group of people dying of thirst in the desert and we were like, ‘Behold, we have found a drop.’”