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Liberals, Meet Us at Camera 3: Don't F*ck This Up

By Sarah Carlson and Jodi Clager | Politics | March 15, 2017 | Comments ()

By Sarah Carlson and Jodi Clager | Politics | March 15, 2017 |


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We see, you liberals. We are you: Existentially exhausted, wondering how long this nightmare will last. So much seems terrible because so much is terrible. We get it.

But we also need you to knock it the f*ck off when it comes to whining about Rachel Maddow. Meet us at Camera 3.

The level of nonsense we’re seeing online from people decrying Maddow for “overhyping” the news that she had copies of Trump’s Form 1040 from 2005 is ridiculous. Maddow isn’t the distraction; this conversation is. Let’s break it down.

Ugh those tweets.
Her show’s Twitter account tweeted the show had his tax returns. It’s true. And that tweet went viral - we saw it shared all over our Facebook feeds, and one of Sarah’s friends texted her about it. News travels fast when it feeds our fantasies of maybe not soon living in The Handmaid’s Tale. But is that what a tweet - a tweet - actually promised? A magic bullet? An immediate path for impeachment and cure for all evil and also cancer probably?

The account’s follow-up tweet appeared designed to cool a few heads, but it was too late. But if you’re one of the ones who believed the “hype,” ask yourself, whose fault is that? Did Rachel Maddow make you believe this was a huge deal and might help bring down Trump? Or did you jump to that conclusion because it’s what you want to believe? Those tweets didn’t promise anything she didn’t provide.

Was the first one designed to get you to tune in? Of course! Shows need ratings. Newspapers need subscribers. Websites need clicks. If you’re clutching your pearls at the concept that someone who is selling goods (she’s on cable TV, not yelling on a street corner) did something to get you to buy those goods, you better be living in the woods and reading this via carrier pigeon (sent to you by a non-crazy friend who understands the kind of world in which we live). (Side note: Maddow is a constant champion of newspapers. She routinely features journalists from across the country working a beat and making a difference in their cities and towns, from covering the city council to the board of elections. She preaches to viewers to subscribe - do you subscribe to your local paper? What about the New York Times, or Washington Post? You think any of this is free?)

Ugh but her style
And don’t try to come at us with complaints that she took too long to get to the point. Maddow structures every show this way; she has been known to give 20-minute monologues for her A block. It is glorious. Sometimes she gets right to hard news that is developing — perhaps it’s a terrorist attack, or firings at the Department of Justice — so the fact she went her traditional route here, by providing the big picture first, is telling. She presented the story as she presents all her investigative reporting, with considerable context and sincerity. If you’re mad she didn’t get to the tax form fast enough or with enough razzle dazzle, then you are the problem.

Ugh this isn’t news
Yes, this is news. From the New York Times story:

Mr. Trump paid $38 million in federal income taxes on reported income of $150 million, an effective tax rate of 25 percent, according to forms disclosed on Rachel Maddow’s MSNBC show. By claiming losses, Mr. Trump apparently saved millions of dollars in taxes that he would otherwise have owed. …

Nothing in the two pages produced on Tuesday night suggested any ties with Russia. Nor did they provide much information about his businesses that was not previously known. But they showed that the vast bulk of the federal income taxes he paid in 2005, $31 million, was paid under the alternative minimum tax, which Mr. Trump wants to abolish.

That tax serves as a backstop to the ordinary income tax and is intended to prevent wealthy Americans from paying no income tax at all. Without it, Mr. Trump would have paid about $5 million in regular taxes, plus nearly $2 million in self-employment taxes, on $153 million in income in 2005.

“Trump’s return shows that he’s pushing tax changes that benefit multimillionaire heirs like him, not the middle class,” said Lily Batchelder, a tax law professor at New York University and former majority chief tax counsel for the Senate Finance Committee. “His proposal to repeal the A.M.T. would have slashed his own tax burden by $31 million, and his income tax rate would be lower than the average rate paid by families earning $75,000 to $100,000.”

Will this change a lot of his supporters’ minds? Probably not, but the goal of reporting is to tell the truth. We can’t dictate what people decide to do with that truth. Could it help lead to further tax form disclosures that might show some shady dealings? Maybe. We won’t know until we know, and the fight to know is worth having. The context she provided in her A block was building her case on why we need to see Trump’s full returns.

Bringing the tax issue to the forefront again is not a distraction from everything else that is terrible, because kiddos, so much is terrible. It’s hard to keep track. It’s hard to stay vigilant and righteously angry and determined to fight back.

You know what is easy? Criticizing someone who is staying vigilant for not doing so in the exact way you think it should be done. Stop it. We’ll spare you the “this is why he won” B.S., but take heed: This — infighting on the left over very little — is why he might win again.


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