Rachel Maddow of MSNBC, yesterday at about 5:30 pm, tweeted out the following:
BREAKING: We've got Trump tax returns. Tonight, 9pm ET. MSNBC.
— Rachel Maddow MSNBC (@maddow) March 14, 2017
MSNBC then began to do a countdown clock on-screen. And the hype began. About an hour later, Maddow tweeted another tease:
What we've got is from 2005… the President's 1040 form… details to come tonight 9PM ET, MSNBC.
— Rachel Maddow MSNBC (@maddow) March 15, 2017
The Twitterverse lit up with speculation. Political pundits began to make bets on how this would empower the Impeach Trump crowd. Guesses were given about how President Trump was handling the pending “bombshell” news. And then Ms. Maddow began her nearly twenty-minute monologue about Donald Trump and his Russian ties. She detailed the oft-repeated intricacies of his deals with Russian oligarchs and his business and debt issues with DeutschBank. She highlighted, in case anyone was unaware, Mr. Trump’s dealings with millions and billions of dollars like average Americans deal with tens and hundreds. Twenty minutes of build-up, rehashing the many sins of Mr. Trump. Albeit, rather warmed over and tired “news” which wasn’t really new. And then…then…she says, holding up some papers, “we have his tax returns.” And cuts to a break. Oh the sweet, anticipation……
When she returns, she holds up two, TWO, pieces of paper. From 2005. For a man who made approximately $150 million dollars that year. Um. . . I’m no tax expert, but I’m also no millionaire and my taxes are more than two pages. So. . .
This was nothing but a massive hoax to boost ratings and hook people…and it backfired-epically.
Immediately after this incredible misfire by Maddow, she was being ridiculed and mocked by both left and right. Comparisons to Geraldo Rivera’s empty Al Capone vault were made and even Van Jones said that this stunt did nothing but help Donald Trump. Maddow has made a fool of herself and lost credibility, but she has done something much worse. She has cried wolf. She has belittled the very important issue of the President’s taxes and the release of same. She has made this issue a joke along with herself and no one will be willing to take the bait the next time she announces that she has BREAKING news on Trump. That is damage that may not be able to be repaired-to the detriment of our nation.
This whole idea of Crying Wolf was mentioned in an article here and has only become more and more prevalent as the media continues to exploit and manipulate non-news to raise the fear meter of the American public. Recently, the dismissal of attorneys from the DOJ was hyped as a spiteful and vindictive act by the President…conveniently omitting the fact that all presidents in recent history have done the exact same thing with no one batting an eye. We simply cannot continue to hype up and overplay every single issue as if it is THE ONE that will take the president down. What that does, over time, is diminish the real stories, the real issues, the real problems. And we won’t be able to see them when they are right in front of us. We will simply say to ourselves, “Oh, that’s just Maddow. Probably another nothing-burger.” And we will tune it out. Because we are human and that is our nature. Once burned, twice shy.
So to sensationalistic pundits like Maddow (and there are PLENTY of others) I say, STOP. Just stop it. You are not more important than your country. Your ratings do not take precedent over our national security. Your little radio show, or blog, or cable program are not the center of the universe and if you become the news instead of delivering the news, then it is time to step back and reassess. In a critical time of history for the United States, narrative matters. News matters. Trust matters. And now, as this backlash has shown, deception and hype…matters.