Yesterday Rachel Maddow laid the groundwork for a big reveal on her primetime news program. After tweeting that her program would display pages from Donald Trump’s tax returns, word came out that said returns were from 2005, over a decade before anybody cared what they told us about the man’s income. The reveal was then preempted by a White House press release, and the news landed with all the force of a feather fluttering to the ground.
The Huffington Post is admonishing people for resenting Maddow “for not taking down Trump,” which means they don’t get it either. People aren’t mad because Maddow didn’t deliver the earth-shattering news story that might dislodge Trump from the presidency. People are mad because the MSNBC television host pretended she had something viable and relevant, and it turned out to be a whole lot of nothing.
On the right, this appears to be just the latest example of a crazy lefty making a big deal about nothing. The returns, after all, show that Trump paid a tax rate of just over 25%. That Trump turned substantial losses as a result of poor business decisions into tax relief is also not news, and enough voters were unconcerned with the difference between Trump’s reality TV profession and his very real failures as an entrepreneur that they still gave him the electoral votes necessary to win.
But on the left, the outrage should be deeper. Maddow’s publicity stunt represents little more than a distraction from real news. The Congressional Budget Office’s numbers on the Republican healthcare bill describe sharply increasing premiums, especially for seniors who can least afford it. At a time when the conversation should be focused on solutions for healthcare in this country that don’t leave people risking death or financial ruin because costs are out of control, shifting focus to tax returns from 2005 is a major disservice to debates of substance.
There are myriad other things the media could be focusing on. Trump’s administration is still hard at work self-destructing the executive branch and the functions it performs. The EPA is being declawed as the world continues to experience record extremes for high temperatures. The regulations that have reigned in Wall Street since the Great Recession are in the crosshairs. Trump continues to try and ban travel from a number of Muslim-majority nations on ill-conceived grounds that do little more than feed the recruitment efforts of terrorist organizations fighting against the U.S. There’s the epidemic of hate crimes against Muslims, Sikhs, and other South Asians, as well as Jews that have exploded with Trump’s electoral victory and inauguration.
The stakes are too high for concerned Americans to be teased with tax returns from over a decade ago. There is a real assault taking place on the values that have defined this country for decades, and on the stability of the American-led world order. The health and well-being of real people is endangered. No American, no matter how liberal or conservative, can afford the antics or the distraction that Maddow distastefully displayed on Tuesday night.