There are times when the jokes write themselves, folks. And after this past week, there are a lot of jokes being written about Rachel Maddow’s hour-long reveal of Donald Trump’s 2005 tax returns…that turned out to be a bigger let down than Michael Moore and Rosie O’Donnell tandem bungee jumping off the Sears Tower. And that’s even more of a let down than I was with most of my ex-girlfriends.
Whether the Trump Administration set up Maddow or if she and her crack staff (or staff that’s on crack) just dropped the ball is irrelevant. What is relevant today and for some time to come is how Maddow looked like an utter fool teasing an anti-climax more disappointing than the box office draw from the “Ghostbusters” reboot. How bad was it? When both the Left and the Right are mocking you for your blunder, it’s bad.
Now, many on the Left are telling us to watch the entire show and watch as Maddow connected the dots before passing judgment. That may be true, but that would require us to watch her spend an hour doing a modern interpretation of Geraldo Rivera’s trip to Al Capone’s vault. Or, more accurately, Weird Al Yankovic’s uncovering of what was in Al Capone’s glove compartment from the movie “UHF.” (For those of you who haven’t seen it, it was rooooooaaaad maps!)
As bad as it looks for Maddow now, it is going to get a lot worse before it gets better. Her network, MSNBC, has set itself up as the Anti-Trump, All-The-Time Network, and it works for a sliver of the population demanding this sort of commentary in lieu of journalism. Therein lies the problem. By feeding into the demand, MSNBC has taken itself from being a somewhat respectable channel that occasionally reports the news to a channel that cannot be taken seriously. (Of course, I would argue them hiring Al Sharpton cemented that, but I digress.) The hype Maddow whipped up for the not-so-big-reveal only made the Icarusian fall from grace that much brighter.
Sure, the ratings may have taken a bump, but at what cost. Remember, it wasn’t that long ago that Jerry Springer ruled the daytime airwaves with segments so shocking and sensational it gained him the ire of people across all segments of the population. Hype only works if the payoff justifies it. Even if at the 11th hour Maddow realized she had a Triple Nothing-Burger With Cheese, she went ahead with the non-story as though it were significant and real.
Here’s a pro tip for you, Rach. Next time, do your research before you hype your story. That way, you don’t wind up with more egg on your face than a hatchery farmer at ground zero of a henhouse explosion. And if the story doesn’t justify it, don’t hype it.
Although much of the scorn being heaped upon Maddow’s shoulders is justified, I can’t say that I don’t feel sorry for her. She let hubris overrule her reporter’s instincts and ran with a story that played into a Leftist narrative. That can happen to anyone. Just ask the New York Times editorial staff about Jayson Blair. Since the show aired, Maddow has doubled down on the hubris by blaming…get this…the people who bought into her hype.
If I shook my head any more after this turn of events, my skull could double as a paint mixer.
For Maddow to regain her stride and be credible again, she has to do a major mea culpa. Admit the folly of her actions and stay away from sensationalism for a while. Like, say, the rest of her career. If Donald Trump is hiding something in his tax returns, that information will come out sooner or later, but playing to the crowd wanting it to be true will only blunt the impact if it is true. That’s why real journalists don’t play partisan games. They look at the facts, report them as impartially as they can, and leave the opinions to the editorial page and to the readers/viewers.
Until that time, Rach, you will hear a lot of people discounting your reporting.
And a lot of people laughing at you. Primarily me, though.