MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow lit the internet on fire Tuesday night when she teased via Twitter that she’d gotten her hands on President Donald Trump’s tax returns – a scoop that would have been pretty juicy, considering Trump never released his tax returns during the presidential campaign as all other modern-era presidents have done.
What Maddow and the fine folks over at MSNBC actually managed to do was get part of a copy of Trump’s 2005 tax return. Which was already 12 years old. And which the White House had already released.
And which the Wall Street Journal had already reported on – a year ago.
The tax form was obtained by Pulitzer prize-winning journalist David Cay Johnston, who runs a website called DCReport.org, and reported on MSNBC’s “The Rachel Maddow Show.” Johnston, who has long reported on tax issues, said he received the documents in the mail, unsolicited.
The White House pushed back even before the release of the documents Tuesday night, saying that publishing the information was illegal.
“You know you are desperate for ratings when you are willing to violate the law to push a story about two pages of tax returns from over a decade ago,” the White House said in a statement issued on condition that it be attributed to an anonymous official, although the president has decried the use of anonymous sources.
The unauthorized release or publishing of federal tax returns is a criminal offense, punishable by a fine of up to $5,000 and up to five years in jail. But Maddow argued that MSNBC was exercising its First Amendment right to publish information in the public interest.
Even MSNBC wrote that the show was little more than a ratings ploy. Mediaite says that Maddow trolled us all.