Maher, Andrew Sullivan Slam Maddow for Overhyping Trump Tax Story

March 18th, 2017 10:10 PM

Don't hold your breath waiting for MSNBC's Rachel Maddow to trumpet her next scoop, assuming the next time it's actually hers and not someone else's.

In the wake of Maddow's is that all there is? report about Donald Trump's 2005 tax return that revealed the not at all shocking news that Trump was actually quite wealthy, at least as of a decade ago, and also paid tens of millions in federal income taxes, the backlash from both sides of the divide has been furious.

That conservatives lambasted Maddow over this is hardly surprising, and NewsBusters readers in particular are familiar with her shabby antics as compiled in scores of posts here over the last decade.

More satisfying for those of us right of center is the payback that Maddow is getting from her ideological cohorts on the left. And last night on HBO's Real Time with Bill Maher, Maddow was excoriated by the host and both of his guests, none of whom would otherwise be expected to say unkind things about her.

Joining Maher were former Democrat congressman Barney Frank of Massachusetts and New York magazine writer/author Andrew Sullivan, one of the earliest practitioners of political blogging

MAHER: Liberals have to be so careful these days. I mean, I'm a big fan of Rachel Maddow, I want her on the air. But, you know, you can be a fan of someone and not like everything they do. And this week she hyped -- which is okay, that's what people objected to, the big hype, she had a countdown clock, she's got some of Trump's tax returns like it was liberal New Year's Eve (laughter and applause from audience) -- did you see this? --  it turned out to be a big nothing burger. Worse than a nothing burger, it was a help-Trump burger because here's what the essence was -- she gets two pages, through the transcript from David Cay Johnson (more accurately, Johnston) of Trump's 2005 tax returns. He paid $38 million on earnings of $150 million, which is about 25 percent -- which is well within respectable! This is probably the best tax return he's ever filed, which makes me think this came from Donald Trump. (more laughter and applause). ... As you said, he's actually good at this. If we want to win this, we can't get played. This is getting played, I'm sorry.

But just then it got so much better --

SULLIVAN: And also there's a giant cloud of smug above Rachel Maddow when she was doing that. Liberals have to be careful not to sound so f***ing condescending and smug as if they know it. And start actually engaging the other side and persuading people.

But if liberals were to stop their condescension they'd quickly run out of things to talk about. And that "giant cloud of smug" envelopes Maddow whenever she's on the air, not just when she was hyperventilating over Trump's taxes.

Barney Frank couldn't let Sullivan's withering denunciation pass without comment, while also getting in his own dig at Maddow --

FRANK: Andrew, I think you might want to teach by example on that last point (more laughter and applause). Again, I didn't like what she did. First of all, I do believe that tax returns ought to be secret. I will say there's a huge hypocrisy with regard to, a huge -- not for the president (referring to tax returns remaining secret) -- but I don't think they should be leaked that way. By the way, her journalistic scoop was apparently saying oh, thank you (holds out hand as if receiving gift). I don't consider that crusading journalism.

In other words, Maddow's scoop, which was actually Johnston's, fell into their laps. Ahhh, but does it get much richer than to hear Barney Frank lecture someone else on the need for humility?