PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Tuesday night, Donald Trump pulled off the greatest feat of his young political career. With an Obamacare repeal bill mired in debate and allegations swirling of his administration intimately tied to Russia, the President threw a perfectly pitched media curveball to distract from it all.
His sinister plan? Secretly plant two pages of his private tax returns from 2005 in the mailbox of a little-known reporter. The reporter would then call a cable news show with terrible ratings to spread news of the returns. The cable news host would likely promote this as breaking news and create a major online campaign of hype to cause the entire media and political world to tune in.
Once a major audience was gathered, the host and journalist would embarrass themselves divulging no new information other than Trump is a wealthy man who pays taxes at a higher rate than most of his liberal critics.
YES! IT HAD TO WORK! BWAHAHAHAH! (Twirls mustache menacingly.)
This is not a silly fiction you’ve just read. This is the actual account of journalist David Cay Johnston twenty-four hours after he and Rachel Maddow delivered what Ted Cruz would call a “nothingburger” on national television.
Donald Trump makes a lot of money, and pays a lot of taxes. Shazam! Maddow and Johnston had so little to say, Johnston resorted to hinting at scandal the best he could. “While we have the pages to show what he’s earned – we don’t have the pages to show us WHERE he earned it.” (Bum-bum-bum)
At the conclusion of Maddow’s big Trump tax return expose with Johnston, the world of Twitter lambasted the pair. By even the most hopeful, friendly, liberal viewers’ standards – the show was a flop. A non-event rivaled in hype only by the dud of a blizzard called Stella earlier that day.
MSNBC and Johnston moved immediately into damage control. By late Tuesday night and early Wednesday morning, they’d crafted an explanation for their “breaking news” landing with a thud. Trump tricked them!
This is not a joke.
Once it was realized this “news” not only didn’t make Trump look bad, but actually confirmed Trump’s wealth and the rate at which he pays taxes – they went completely off the reservation. The kind of stuff you’d send a relative in for psychological evaluation if you heard them say it.
Donald Trump – President of the United States – purposely delivered his unreleased tax documents to a nobody reporter in the hopes of tricking the nation into talking about his taxes, making him look good, and thus distracting from other serious problems in his administration.
Setting Trump aside, what does this crazed theory say about intrepid journalists Maddow and Johnston? Their only explanation for producing an overhyped, non-news event was an admission to a total lack of understanding of what news is? Further, Trump, it seems is something akin to the Road Runner versus the media’s Wile E. Coyote. The only thing missing from the tax forms was a big red “ACME” stamped across the back.
Even liberals on Twitter had to admit how bad this event made Maddow and her network look. Their hatred for Trump is so great they may have genuinely lost any credibility they had left. Much like the comics of late night TV who’ve decided to go all in on Trump jokes all the time – it has a shelf life. It may make some feel better, but it’s not inspiring. It’s not an alternative. It ignores the reality of Trump’s massive support. It’s just petulant, petty, meritless, destructive small-ball.
Now that I think about it, maybe Trump is the Road Runner – totally unintimidated by the danger the coyote presents. Yet the coyote – like the media – is so obsessed with destroying the bird he inadvertently, carelessly hurts himself. The bird always speeds off unscathed.
The audience loves to laugh at the coyote’s continuous failure and knows no matter what he does, he’ll never catch the bird. Further, the Road Runner is more popular than Wile E. Coyote with most of the audience. Just like Trump is more popular than the media with most voters.
Nevertheless, the one thing Trump and those of us watching can count on? The media will be back tomorrow with another anvil.