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Well, that happened

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As soon as Rachel Maddow announced she had “Trump taxes” last night, I knew there would be a caveat. “Trump” taxes didn’t mean Donald’s taxes, necessarily. And it also didn’t mean recent tax papers. Or a lot of tax papers. So I braced myself for disappointment when she–after a 20 minute build up–revealed that she had two pages from a 2005 return. But I obviously didn’t brace myself enough because it’s hard to put into words how angry I felt after the nothingburger reveal. Because honestly it simply wasn’t news.

It would have been one thing if she had obtained enough records to paint a complete picture of Trump’s financial dealings; she didn’t. She had two stinking pages from one stinking year. A mountain of exonerating proof would have been news. A mountain of incriminating proof would have been news. This wasn’t. This was the Capone’s Vault of taxes and honestly I’m kind of embarrassed for everyone even peripherally involved in the segment or anyone who actually got excited about it.

The worst part is that the “leak” so obviously came from a Trump surrogate or Trump himself. It’s the perfect little nugget of good news for him–“See, he’s RICH! See, he pays taxes–A LOT OF THEM!” And the precious admonition that they were illegally obtained and the sniffing about the low rate he payed was–honestly–a pretty good touch! And, no, it doesn’t portend more “leaks.” So put that out of your head now.

How will this play in Peoria? It will play like this: He’s a super-rich guy who payed a shitload of money in taxes. Fantastic.

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  • Ahenobarbus

    I posted this on the other thread, but at one point, Vox had all five articles in its Latest News section dedicated to this issue. One of them has Ezra Klein promising us that this is going to be big.

    What we saw actually supports the value of the AMT, but in the big picture, it’s a win for Trump.

    • Unless they have tax information showing direct payments from Putin, it’s hard to think that even a complete disclosure of his tax returns would amount to a hill of beans. People knew going in that he hasn’t paid shit for taxes, so it’s unlikely to shift anyone’s voting patterns.

      • Gregor Sansa

        tax information showing direct payments from Putin

        What about a clue that leads to a trail that leads to direct payments from Putin? Direct info is unlikely; clues are almost certain to be there.

        • cpinva

          “clues are almost certain to be there.”

          not much of them. sure, if you had all the underlying schedules, supporting what’s reported on pages 1 & 2 of the 1040, it would provide some information, but certainly not sufficient to make any kind of case out of. you’d need the source documents for that, along with any accountant’s workpapers showing how all those schedules were put together. just a guess, but I submit that he had a significant NOL Carryforward from the previous 10 years, that was mostly (if not all) absorbed by positive income in 2005. this would explain the minimal ($5.3 mil) ordinary tax. then, all those loss items became AMT preference items, creating roughly $155 mil in AMTI. at a flat rate of 20%, there’s your $31 mil in AMT. were there no AMT, his tax liability would have only been the $5.3 mil, which is why he and all his rich buddies desperately want to get rid of the AMT, at both the individual and corp level.

          • Gregor Sansa

            I was referring to a complete disclosure, as CVDanes suggested.

            • Yep, but if the fact that he refused to disclose them didn’t hurt him, then I don’t think having them leaked will hurt him either.

    • TopsyJane

      What we saw actually supports the value of the AMT, but in the big picture, it’s a win for Trump.

      Not if it plays out as renewing interest in his other tax returns. We can hope for that. Johnston thinks it’s possible this came from Trump, but he has also noted that as a rule Trump doesn’t issue complaints after things he’s leaked himself, like his wife’s nudie pictures.

  • campionrules

    Worse, the wide gap of knowledge on twitter, from apparent journalists no less, about the difference between marginal and effective tax rate, and what exactly the AMT is was a little appalling. Somebody called it the “So Called Alternate Minimum Tax”. Uh…..

    • Lot_49

      Even David Cay Johnston, who’s pretty literate on this stuff, did a poor job of explaining AMT.

    • cpinva

      oh no, AMT is most definitely a thing. a pain in the ass thing, but a thing nonetheless. as to your criticisms of the journalists, I’m with you. I saw the same thing, when the pages 1 & 2 of the older returns mysteriously appeared in some reporter’s email box a few months ago. the “analysis” by these journalists, and some supposed “experts” in the field were, indeed, appalling.

  • aturner339

    Maddow’s job is in part to attract prime-time eyeballs to a struggling network. Sometime you do that with insightful commentary and sometimes to do it with the ole Rickroll.

    I won’t hate the player. I will say that it says a lot about this country that “Trump might have paid taxes one time” is more attention getting that “GOP congressman predicts race war in near future”

    • Joe_JP

      She has a certain cred to uphold though and had reason to know the hype (she had a whole episode around it and then Lawrence covered it some more) was overblown.

      Also, to the degree it might have been a leak from the Trump camp (offered as a reasonable possibility by David Cay Johnston; others basically are assuming it), that too is a concern — a sort of “you are being played.” So, I think we can call her on it a bit, even to the degree we realize it is still a business.

      It might say something, per that last part, but it doesn’t surprise me. All it takes is a little cover sometimes, especially if the criticism (or the spin possible of it) is a tad overblown (“he didn’t pay taxes”!).

    • Cassiodorus

      Struggling is a relative term. I’m pretty sure their viewership numbers are up year over year.

  • Brett

    It’s worse than the “Al Capone’s vault” incident, because at least Geraldo didn’t know what he would find, and apologized after it turned out to be empty. Madow knew she only had two sheets with a couple of line numbers that don’t tell us anything other than Trump’s tax rate in 2005*, and yet she acted like it was more than that in the lead-up.

    * And that if he really was worth $5-10 billion 2005, Trump earned a shitty rate of return on his assets.

    • Brett

      By “Trump’s tax rate”, I mean “you can figure out what his tax rate was from reported income and so forth”.

    • witlesschum

      It’s worse than the “Al Capone’s vault” incident, because at least Geraldo didn’t know what he would find, and apologized after it turned out to be empty.

      Just because

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rdw1ZK585RU

    • delazeur

      And that if he really was worth $5-10 billion 2005, Trump earned a shitty rate of return on his assets.

      The numbers don’t necessarily tell us that — unrealized capital gains are not counted as income.

      • Brett

        Good point. Then there’s even less useful out of the two pages.

      • GeorgeBurnsWasRight

        But he should be getting income from the property, too.

        Either he’s got great accountants who made the income go away or he’s got far less property than he claims he does.

  • I’ve been waiting for the other shoe to drop here. It sounds like Gateway Pundit or a Breitbartian exclaiming, “OMG, Trump’s total tax paid in 2005 was more than his total taxable income!!!!!”

    Because that’s what the numbers come down to. People are getting the 25% effective tax rate figure from adding back the $100M writeoff to his taxable income. But with the deductions and all, the final number for taxable income is lower than his total tax (regular and AMT added together). Good God, the rich tears that are going to flow over that.

  • DiTurno

    I think this is a bizarre post. Trump has had an unrelieved string of screwups and catastrophes, but this is supposed to help him?

    It’s a nothing burger in the literal sense: it does nothing.

    • OK, that’s actually a fair observation. I guess I’d argue, though, that it really invigorated his psycho base. You should have seen them crowing on twitter. So I guess that’s something, even if substantively it’s not much.

      • DiTurno

        Do you really thing his psycho base needs to be invigorated? Even if they do, the AHCA is a lose-lose situation, so that’ll blow this non-story away.

        • I do think they need to be invigorated. I think one of the reasons Hillary lost is because the Comey reveals demoralized potential Dem voters and invigorated Trump ones. I don’t think the infamous bus tapes damaged Trump’s campaign because his supporters were turned off, I think they damaged. him because it demoralized potential supporters. I think demoralizing voters is actually a pretty good strategy that appears to have worked in this highly polarized environment. YMMV.

          • witlesschum

            But the big thing about the Comey bullshit version 2.1 was the timing. Trump’s not facing the voters next week.

            • That’s true. But I do wonder if sustained demoralization will have an impact on the midterms.

          • Wapiti

            I’d expand this to say that Trump needs his base stirred up. He’s a seriously needy person who stumbles when his cheering section goes quiet.

            His base gets stirred up by Trump being an ass, especially to liberals. Or by liberals attacking Trump for being an ass. His base grows muted when he’s attacked on policy.

            So the Dems can use his taxes to estimate how much he stands to gain from the repeal of ACA. Beat him with that. Tell the voters that Donald will happily pitch 20 million of them off insurance so that he can put a million* in his pocket.

            * or whatever the actual calculated number is.

    • sigaba

      My perusal of the headlines leads me to believe that Peoria will interpret this as something akin to EMAILS. Casual observers don’t care what the returns evince, and the press only cares that it’s able to reveal something that was hidden, and the fact that it was hidden is evidence enough something is wrong.

      You libs don't understand Real America doesn't care about the details or facts. We liberals read this story and we cogitate AMT and effective tax rates and all the itemized deduction we missed out on. A lot of people just see RETURN LEAKED TAXES TRUMP and all the synthetic a posteriori one might expect simply doesn’t happen between people’s ears.

      • Ahenobarbus

        I think a lot of people will just hear “Trump paid $30 million+ in taxes” and that’s it. The AMT argument is too much detail for our public discourse, but the amount he paid isn’t.

    • LeeEsq

      It makes “liberal elites” look foolish, something that always gets the Republican electorate happy.

    • Incontinentia Buttocks

      This. Stop focusing on stuff that doesn’t help. Maddow’s tax “news” didn’t help. Plenty of other things going on do.

  • jeer9

    Yeah, I stopped watching Maddow a while back because of the nightly twenty minutes of throat-clearing but hung on yesterday evening as the hype clock ticked down and Johnston was going to be on.

    I prefer Hayes and O’Donnell. They have more guests and an interesting conversation occasionally develops (or in Hayes’s case, some comedy, as he usually starts with a Republican lying his ass off) rather than endless indignation circling around a point that has been made several times.

    • Mark Field

      Same here. I watched last night in hope more than expectation, but I won’t go back to her again.

      • TopsyJane

        Same here. I watched last night in hope more than expectation, but I won’t go back to her again.

        Thirded. Obviously any glimpse of a Trump tax return is news, but, jeez. And David Cay Johnston’s interview on Democracy Now today is longer and more instructive.

        She is beating the tar out of Tucker Carlson in the ratings, which may not be saying much but is nice to know.

    • Joe_JP

      O’Donnell during the campaign over and over again had talking heads hyping how horrible Trump is, the overall sentiment being he obviously was going to lose, let’s have some fun going over the same old thing over and over again.

      To me, he’s tiresome, his talking heads not very useful. Maddow at least at times has some more original content, even if those introductory essays annoy people. I guess Hayes is the best, but always annoyed me that he suddenly started to wear ties when he got an evening show.

      • Mark Field

        JMHO, but I think Hayes is the only one worth watching. I’m willing to ignore his ties, and even the fact that he’s a Cubs fan.

        • Joe_JP

          Curious about his book.

          Think Maddow has her moments. With the Internet, one can pick and choose, watch the segments that are worthwhile.

          Hayes also has a good twitter feed.

      • Brett

        Usually I like Maddow’s introductory essays, often because they’re about something different and setting the context really helps. It was just this time that it was irritating as hell, all build-up for nothing.

        O’Donnell is virtually unwatchable for me. By the time his show’s come on, everything that he might discuss about Trump has already been discussed, so he’s just rehashing old ground again.

  • sleepyirv

    I don’t think Peoria gives a shit.

    This is a minor news story that happen on a random episode of Maddow. The fact people took the two hours on twitter to get really hyped up about it says more about them than the story.

    As to Trump leaking the story, I don’t believe that for a half second. Not everything is part of a grand conspiracy masterminded from the White House. There’s something very bizarre on how people keep looking for a deeper meaning to Trump and his moves when the shallow meaning IS TERRIBLE ENOUGH ON IT’S OWN!!! The media is naturally predisposed to believe what a politician’s hiding matters more than what they’re saying. With Trump, that doesn’t have to be true.

    • DiTurno

      Totally agree about Trump. Far from being a mastermind, he’s realized one simple fact: it’s an enormous advantage to be a wholly unethical dumbass with no regard for facts or the truth.

      He’s playing Calvinball. That’s all there is to it.

      • Fats Durston

        My favorite tweet about it, paraphrased:

        Some members of American Left: OMG, Trump is playing four-dimensional chess

        Trump: Why can’t the king go on the horsey piece?

    • Lost Left Coaster

      Yeah this morning David Cay Johnston was saying on Democracy Now! that he doesn’t think that Trump leaked them. He thought it was a possibility, since Trump definitely has leaked information about himself in the past, but in this case he’s taken to Twitter to trash the media for reporting on it, and Johnston says he’s never done that before about something he leaked himself.

      • GeorgeBurnsWasRight

        Here’s how I parse it.

        Who ever leaked them either did it to help or to hurt Trump. I can’t see any other possibility.

        If they did it to hurt Trump, unless they either don’t have access to anything besides the first 2 pages or are complete idiots, what was leaked was never going to hurt Trump much if at all.

        Thus, the most probable reason for leaking the returns was it was thought this would help Trump. I can’t imagine anyone on his team doing this without Trump’s permission. So IMO, it doesn’t matter who put the stamp on the envelope, Trump did it.

    • Brett

      Not Trump himself, but someone in his circle. It’s not exactly a complex scheme – drop two pages of an old tax return in the mail-box of a reporter, and let it go from there.

      • sleepyirv

        It’s not complicated, it’s just likely to be pointless and possibly damaging. Unless you think Trump insiders can predict with perfect accuracy how a news story will go.

        It’s certainly a theory that would require actual evidence before being entertained.

  • MikeJake

    Burn down cable news.

    • CaptainBringdown

      This. Given the choice between sniffing glue and watching cable news, I reach for the rubber cement every time. It’s nore edifying and kills fewer brain cells.

    • Joe_JP

      except those bits where I learn stuff … see also, print media

  • djw

    Is “Trump is the source of the leak” just a (plausible) theory, or something we can claim to know with some confidence? I thought more the former than the latter. (Like sleepyirv, I’m at least moderately skeptical.)

    • It’s my theory, I think it’s the most likely explanation, but it certainly doesn’t bother me if people think it’s a little out there.

    • Brett

      Just plausible, given that the Trump Administration

      1. Had the numbers ready at hand when Madow’s folks asked for comment
      2. It’s stamped as the owner’s copy
      3. It’s literally just the first two pages with no supporting documentation
      4. It reflects positively on him
      5. It doesn’t take a complex scheme to do this – just a straight-forward fake leak.

      Then again, Trump’s Administration leaks like a 500-year-old thatch roof, so if someone was doing this you’d expect someone else to talk about it to a reporter.

      • Crusty

        6. He used to call the NY tabloids using a fake name and give them stories about how rich he was and how many women wanted to date him.

        • sibusisodan

          The difference being that Trump was directly involved in the “John Barron” stuff, and it involved his favourite things: bullshit about how amazing he was.

          It’s possible that he’s indirectly and anonymously leaked true and concrete info about himself…but it seems very out of character.

    • q-tip
  • witlesschum

    I don’t understand this reaction or all the similar ones on twitter. Trump tried to keep this secret, Maddow and David Cay Johnson got ahold of it anyway. That’s worth something right there and I don’t think Maddow overhyped it with two tweets. Even an unremarkable tax return you were able to get ahold of when Trump didn’t want you to seems more interesting than the usual cable news segment, certainly.

    I don’t take the idea seriously that Trump provided it himself, because he wouldn’t give it to David Cay Johnson, he’d give it to Alex Jones or maybe someone on Fox.

    • I don’t know what he’d have to lose by giving it to Johnson, since it paints a flattering portrait (if you’re not appalled by the rate he paid.)

      • witlesschum

        It’s not that he’d have something to lose, but I just doubt he’d leak to someone, for one, who isn’t a trusted rightwinger and, even more importantly, isn’t on TV themselves. Trump can barely read and watches cable news obsessively.

    • Lev

      You make a good case that it’s newsworthy. But it’s not politically useful, quite the opposite in fact. I’m not sure that many non-Democrats care much about the issue but now you’re going to have to find a real smoking gun to get anyone to pay attention next time.

  • Crusty

    I think the story is that these two pages were unremarkable, which makes it all the more curious that he won’t release his perfectly legitimate nothing to see here boring vanilla tax returns.

  • Lost Left Coaster

    I didn’t watch Maddow, so I don’t know how she played it. Sounds like there is plenty to critique there. I saw David Cay Johnston on Democracy Now! this morning, and it was a great report — he explained what is significant, what is missing, what questions are unanswered, etc. Maybe the hype on MSNBC stepped on an interesting story. Certainly this is worlds away from some kind of smoking gun that is going to take Trump down. Johnston emphasized that more than anything, this partial information highlights the need to have Trump’s full returns. He also said that he doubts that Trump actually leaked this on purpose, because if Trump leaks something, he doesn’t then turn to Twitter to trash it, as he did with this (called MSNBC “fake news,” which is hard to square with the White House confirming the authenticity of the documents).

  • NewishLawyer

    From what I understand, Maddow announced the “scoop” right after receiving it and didn’t realize it was largely nothing burger until it was too late and they laid out the whole tease for clickbait.

    I get that the scoop can walk to another media source but this was a meh.

    From what I said on Scott’s thread, I think that Luigi Zingales is right. You beat Trump and Company by making him stick to policy because that is extremely unpopular for Trump and the GOP.

    The issue with the above strategy is that it is extremely frustrating because it does not allow for those righteous outrage endorphins but I think we end up being too caught up in the vulgar and ugly things done by Trump and his supporters. The reality is that there are always going to be sucky people and you are not going to change that but you still need enough of them to vote for the Democratic Party.

    A lot of people on the left seem to want to win and also win for the perfect reasons. We need some of the “I’m voting for the N-word” crowd too.

    • LeeEsq

      You especially need some of the “I’m voting for the N-word” crowd in the American electoral system. We aren’t going to wake up and find ourselves in a parliamentary republic with a near perfect electoral system and unitary, non-federal country with provinces instead of states. We have to deal with the electoral system we have and not the one we want.

    • Lord Jesus Perm

      A lot of people on the left seem to want to win and also win for the perfect reasons. We need some of the “I’m voting for the N-word” crowd too.

      Putting aside whether or not the general point here is true, most “people on the left” don’t want to win for perfect reasons, they want some type of assurance that winning isn’t going to jeopardize the gains that the different groups that constitute the left have made. If going after the “I’m voting for the nigger” crowd means that women black/brown people etc. lose out, it’s not much of a win.

      Honestly shouldn’t need to be explained at this point, but whatever.

      • aturner339

        Yes the history of minority participation in US politics has been one unbroken line of cooperating with racists. This is not a new thing.

        • q-tip

          Yup. Sad but true. (King’s relationship with LBJ is just one particularly memorable example.)

      • NewishLawyer

        Maybe I went a bit too far but this story was clickbait in real time and made it look like we were getting tripped on our own outrage.

        There is a story here about the value of the AMT tax rate but the treatment Maddow and MSNBC gave the story did not live up to the hype. If the bombshell was direct deposits from Putin, sure, that would be amazing but the whole tease and reveal was nothing but working up to a disappointing climax.

        The defense people are giving here feels like people who know they were caught with their pants down but just can’t admit it.

        Maddow goofed and thought she had something bigger than she did.

        The whole point of the old Zingales essay is that you attack Trump on policy because his policies are deeply unpopular and he is too ignorant to defend them deftly.

        When I talk about outrage endorphins, I do think people get off on feeling self-righteous because effective but dull attacks are still dull and not suited for clicking the bait.

    • q-tip

      From what I understand, Maddow announced the “scoop” right after receiving it and didn’t realize it was largely nothing burger until it was too late and they laid out the whole tease for clickbait.

      Was that scenarioreported, or just speculation?

      Genuinely curious – it would be pretty unprofessional of Maddow and the network to promote a story before ANY reporting work was done, right?

  • Crusty

    Every legit page of returns we get makes the refusal to release stranger and stranger. If there’s one egregious return in there, with say, something marked “kremlin bribe, he can’t just say I’ll realease them all except for 2014. So he says I won’t release any, but there’s obviously a reason, and knowing what we know about him, it certainly isn’t that he’s bashful about his wealth. He might be embarrassed about wealth that isn’t quite as large as he says it is, and he might be concerned about the billionaires he wants to like him snickering behind his back, but he’s specifically held these back. This latest leak doesn’t make us say oh, there’s nothing there, rather, it says there must be something else there.

  • The story isn’t what these two leaked pages from his 2005 return reveal. The story is that Trump continues to refuse to release his taxes. That makes any leaked Trump tax documents inherently newsworthy, regardless of what information they contain.

    • Brett

      But that was already a story before the leak. The two pages from 2005 don’t affect that in any way – they’re nothing.

      • Brett

        Sorry, to add-

        they’re “nothing” beyond “neener neener I’ve got part of Trump’s tax return!”.

        • I’m not sure what you’re arguing here. Do you think the partial 2005 return shouldn’t been reported on? Again, any part of Trump’s returns are inherently newsworthy precisely because all we have is handful of leaked pages from 1995 and 2005.

    • Quaino

      Absolutely, it’s a huge story, if he keeps this up he has no chance of becoming President.

  • Joe_JP

    This was a mildly interesting story that reminded us he didn’t release his taxes and (less newsworthy but still useful to keep on saying — it’s a basic theme of DCJ’s career) was a rich guy that gamed the tax system in an aggravating way (how much was hard to tell, since we only saw the tip of the iceberg).

    But, it was hyped too much. Twenty minute opening segment to tell us there are various reasons to want to see his tax returns. Which was fine. Did we really need, with her usual breathless tone, that much lead-up, given all the news out there? For instance, next week, the Gorsuch hearings begin. Remember that guy?

    And, we had the two pages, but [if this occurred in the last ten minutes or on the 10 o’clock show, fine; lost interest and shifted to the WBC long before that] was barely shown the details. Why not walk through the information we had? Upfront. Note how much was declared and how the taxes he paid was a trivial amount relatively. The basic idea they had a shiny item (TAXES) seemed to be meant to excite us more than it deserved.

    Chris Hayes made an interesting point — the release here actually could have helped Trump since it showed he did pay taxes. People are saying this suggests Trump or his people might have leaked it. Perhaps, upfront, talk about that. That to me again would be a novel thing to discuss. Maybe, this is just my opinion on what is interesting. What do I know. They are the ones with a show.

  • q-tip

    Did @maddow hype the tax returns? I’m not so sure. She said she had them, them, then gave a bit more detail. But Twitter went into a frenzy.

    https://twitter.com/lpolgreen/status/842001126698455040

    To which Sarah Weinman replied:

    The morning after, I would say we played ourselves.

    I think I agree that most of the blame is on “us.” The audience.

    Maddow could’ve been more clear – “we have two pages of Trump taxes” would’ve set expectations at a more realistic level. But it’s a long way from that criticism to comparing this to the Capone’s vault fiasco in terms of unjustified hype.

    Sad fact is, we all know there’s some smoking-gun proof of Trump’s depravity that will finally take him down. A peepee tape, audio of him using the n-word or calling his own son an r-word – whatever.

    I hope that Maddow- and we – learned something from all this.

    (Also, some arguments against it being a total nothingburger:
    1. Evidence of self-interest in repealing AMT
    2. Potential evidence of self-interest in any future tax reform proposal
    3. Leverage to demand further disclosure
    4. Might prompt further leaks if returns are out there in the wild
    5. Potential handhold for journalists to scratch their way a little higher up Trump Finance Mountain)

    • humanoid.panda

      The AMT bit is pretty crucial: it’s a golden argument for any attempt to repeal it. And Republicans will be making those attempts.

    • Gregor Sansa

      Agreed. The overhype was viral, not Maddow’s fault. This has marginal value. Let’s move on.

    • Just_Dropping_By

      Sad fact is, we all know there’s some smoking-gun proof of Trump’s depravity that will finally take him down. A peepee tape, audio of him using the n-word or calling his own son an r-word

      Presuming the “r-word” is “retard” or “retarded,” I’m not sure why you think that would take him down. That’s not even in the same ballpark of bad behavior as the “pussy tape.”

      • q-tip

        You guessed right about the r-word. Tom Arnold (yeah, I know) claims he said this – and that it’s on tape. (As I recall, don’t quote me.)

        I’d totally bet that lots of nice white women who rationalized pussy-grabbing as “locker room talk” would be grabbing pitchforks and marching against a guy who called his own kid a “retard.” But I’ve lost bets before.

        Why do I think so? Total hunch.

  • PhoenixRising

    Yeah, no. Maddow gave a seminar on the context, including Russian investments in Trump family’s property and why the 1040 is the tip of an iceberg of corruption and self-dealing; she also explained very clearly for the newly interested WHY we ask our Presidents to revel who they owe, which this document doesn’t come close to doing.

    Why does that matter more than a circle jerk on Twitter?

    We ended up with a POTUS whose value prop for a critical wedge of his voters was ‘He’s an asshole billionaire, but he’ll be an asshole FOR us!’

    Those voters can be sliced away from Trump, and potentially the GOP. The way to get them back is to prove that when he said, ‘Sure I’m a jerk, isn’t it about time someone was crude and forceful in favor of your job in manufacturing’, he was lying.

    Trump’s only principle is what’s best for him, and if that means trading sanctions on Russia for better lending terms for his business, that’s ‘good’. Anything that gets more voters closer to understanding that we need his complete tax returns so we know who he works for is good.

    • Joe_JP

      Circle jerk on Twitter?

      The show itself hyped this as release of tax returns, adding “really” to underline we were supposed to be excited. People were upset at this. Many of them would have been fine if she simply cut out the hype and dealt with this as useful piece.

      I don’t know how the 1040 from 2005 — the actual thing provided here — tells us much about “Russian investments” or anything. She spent 17m. to remind us what we knew already — lots of questions. Full disclosure is important.

      But, that didn’t tell me much at all about this specific tax form. In fact, the one thing cited as notable specifically by various people — that specific tax break some are saying he benefited from — wasn’t even mentioned from what I recall of the segment.

      The message many of those voters that you are talking about is that all she got is two pages and they say he paid taxes. And, to the extent it wasn’t a lot, BFD. People try to game the system all the time, and good for him for doing it too. People already heard for months about him not releasing his taxes. What did last nite show add to that?

      • PhoenixRising

        Did you watch it?

        Let’s assume not, based on what your objections seem to be. How about this: Do you think that Trump’s 2005 income being largely derived from a single real estate transaction with a Russian mobster, who overpaid him for a property, isn’t newsworthy? How little context for that piece of information do you think is the appropriately small amount of context?

        Swing (low-information) voters don’t watch Maddow. Some of their relatives and friends and coworkers do. Since they don’t trust the fake news, laying out in (what you and I find to be) excruciating detail for those folks WHY this matters is a worthwhile use of my share of the public airwaves.

        Say more about why you think the cable news head who was chosen by the reporter this was leaked to, who is known for doing exactly what you object to, was wrong to do exactly what Johnston chose her to do.

        I’m fascinated by just how many progressive dudes are having a bad day after America’s second-most-prominent lesbian* media figure spent 52 minutes beating on POTUS last night.

        *Ellen beats on him that long every afternoon while I’m at work, per my MIL, but more subtly.

  • thispaceforsale

    solid reaction by charles pierce at esquire. If it’s a shiny object, it’s on us whether or not to chase.
    But there is useful information. Trump is selling property for income at a terrible time as real estate prices are about to bubble. It’s not the actions of someone in good financial shape. And if it was a “distraction” that would imply the administration isn’t going to continue lighting new dumpsters on fire.
    Infinite dumpsters to set on fire means infinite distractions to make everyone forget or downplay the previous dumpster fire.
    After all, one dumpster fire is a tragedy, 1000 dumpster fires- that’s a statistic.

    • Joe_JP

      Telling article.

      If I read the substance of the information correctly, the president* made most of his income that year selling off properties he already owned.

      If this is the story, the lede was pretty much well buried. Perhaps, she should have did more in the opening to cover THAT. But, reading David Cay Johnston’s article, I’m not even clear that was the point. Regarding chasing, if the person you go to for resistance covers in for an hour and then the show after does it some more, you chase it. It’s on her too.

  • Halloween Jack

    I happen to be quite well acquainted with Peoria, and I’m sure that there are still people there willing to give Drumpf every benefit of the doubt. This is, after all, the town that produced Aaron Schock, the epitome of the glad-handing empty suit who would vote for anything that the current GOP House leaders would tell him to, yet was inexplicably promoted as an exciting young conservative leader right up until he was caught going all fancy-lad with his congressional office. (The real shock, as it were, wasn’t that he was caught, but that it took someone that long to pin him down, as his expense-account padding had been known about for some time.)

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