YORK (AP) — Rachel Maddow says that if people felt let down by her
story about President Donald Trump's 2005 tax document it's more because
of the weight of expectation than anything she did.
host found herself in the odd position Wednesday of defending herself
from criticism following one of the biggest-ever scoops for her show.
Maddow's show revealed, through reporter David Cay Johnston, two pages
of tax return information that showed Trump earned $150 million in 2005
and paid $38 million in income taxes that year. Trump has steadfastly
refused to release his tax returns.
An estimate of how many people watched her show was expected later Wednesday afternoon.
tweet less than 90 minutes before her show that "we've got Trump's tax
returns" set off a social media frenzy. Although a subsequent tweet
specified it was only two pages from one year's returns, expectations
were sky high.
Maddow told the AP that she never misrepresented what she had.
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."
story was derided as "a big nothingburger" by Fox News Channel's Steve
Doocy on Wednesday. There were unflattering comparisons to Geraldo
Rivera's opening of Al Capone's vault, television shorthand for an
anticipated event that doesn't meet expectations. The White House's
pre-emptive step of issuing a statement with Trump's income and
estimated taxes for that year before Maddow's show started also took air
out of the story.
Maddow's nearly 20-minute explanation of why
seeing the president's tax returns is important and all of the things
they could reveal — before telling what the 2005 documents actually
showed — may have felt familiar to her regular viewers but a long tease
for those enticed by the advanced advertising.
Tweeted ESPN's Bob Ley during the show: "If you have news, Rachel, please tell us. Soon. I'm not young."
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 said. While
she didn't reveal the income figures immediately, she did tell viewers
at the top of the show the exact documents that were obtained and how
they came to light, she said.
The fact that the material was
leaked — and the Trump administration contended that it was illegal for
Maddow to publicize it — is as important as what it revealed, Maddow
said. If it happened once, it's likely to happen again, she said.
is a super interesting first window into his finances, and the question
of his finances is a legitimate scandal," she said.
called NBC News "fake news" in a tweet Wednesday, he didn't mention
Maddow specifically. His son, Donald Trump Jr., did that in a tweet:
"Thank you Rachel Maddow for proving to your Trump hating followers how
successful #realDonaldTrump is and that he paid $40mm in taxes."
noted in a tweet Wednesday that the White House had confirmed what
Trump had called "fake news." And he said that Trump fans had harassed
his wife and one of his children by phone. "Sad!" he tweeted. "Let's
have open debate, not threats."
Maddow said she didn't feel that
the White House had undercut her story by releasing the tax information
early, noting that it was important to get confirmation that the story
Some Trump supporters found the revelations a positive,
given that critics of his failure to release taxes had suggested the
president wasn't as rich as he let on, or that he paid little in taxes.
Maddow even faced some criticism within the family: a commentary by Jay
Yarow on sister station CNBC's web site that was headlined, "Donald
Trump just got a nice victory, thanks, of all people, to Rachel Maddow."
don't really care," Maddow said. "It is funny to me that a president
would spend this much energy and political capital to keep secret his
finances and his taxes specifically and simultaneously would want to
brag about how much money he made. If that's really what he wants the
story to be, he can release all of his taxes and we can all glory in his