You have reached your limit of free articles this month.

Enjoy unlimited access to myPalmBeachPost.com

Starting at just 99¢ for 8 weeks.

GREAT REASONS TO SUBSCRIBE TODAY!

  • IN-DEPTH REPORTING
  • INTERACTIVE STORYTELLING
  • NEW TOPICS & COVERAGE
  • ePAPER
X

You have read of premium articles.

Get unlimited access to all of our breaking news, in-depth coverage and bonus content- exclusively for subscribers. Starting at just 99¢ for 8 weeks

X

Welcome to myPalmBeachPost.com

This subscriber-only site gives you exclusive access to breaking news, in-depth coverage, exclusive interactives and bonus content.

You can read free articles of your choice a month that are only available on myPalmBeachPost.com.

breaking news

WPB woman was saying goodbye to man when she was murdered

Maddow lands a scoop, then makes viewers wait


Rachel Maddow had a big scoop, and she handled it her way.

With a single tweet on Tuesday, Maddow, the MSNBC anchor, set the political world ablaze, announcing at 7:36 p.m. that she was poised to reveal previously unseen tax records from President Donald Trump on her 9 p.m. program. (“Seriously,” Maddow added.)

In the need-it-this-instant world of online news, 84 minutes struck some journalists as an awfully long time to wait. The White House took advantage, releasing a pre-emptive statement that detailed Trump’s tax figures from 2005 before MSNBC had a chance to air its own report. The Daily Beast and other news outlets ran items as well.

Maddow, who is enjoying the biggest viewership of her show’s nine-year run, did not appear to mind. She opened her program on Tuesday as she usually does: with a deliberately paced, fact-heavy monologue, in this case reviewing Trump’s past refusal to release his taxes to catch up viewers on why this new revelation mattered.

The revelation itself, however, was held back until after the first commercial break, a windup that some fellow journalists, eager for any bombshells, found exceedingly lengthy.

“If you have news, Rachel please tell us. Soon. I’m not young,” tweeted Bob Ley, an ESPN anchor.

“Of course — right after a commercial break. This is the worst episode of American Idol,” complained Zeke Miller, a White House reporter for Time.

The wait, about 20 minutes in all, may have irked political reporters, but it was of a piece with the strategy Maddow has laid out for herself and her staff. In an interview last week, she described “a real sense of responsibility” to educate her 2.6 million-strong audience, particularly those who may be casual consumers of the news.

“There’s new people here every night,” Maddow said in her NBC office in New York. “I don’t feel like I’m doing a clubhouse update. I don’t feel like I’ve got a choir that was here at last night’s practice too. I definitely feel like, hey, if you’re new, let me meet you where you are.”

Ultimately, the reporting that Maddow eventually aired on Tuesday night’s show — two pages from a single, decade-old federal tax return — was less groundbreaking than the mere fact that a portion of the president’s records had surfaced at all. The journalist who obtained the records, David Cay Johnston, a former tax reporter for The New York Times, said that the documents arrived “over the transom” in his mailbox. Johnston even speculated on-air that Trump had sent the documents himself.

The discussion between Maddow and Johnston veered into some odd directions, with Johnston mentioning a connection between Trump and the mob. And Maddow’s opening monologue raised lingering questions about links between Trump and Russia — questions that no simple 1040 form, like the one sent to Johnston, could address.

It was not until the end of the program that Maddow invited on an NBC News political reporter, Hallie Jackson, who dialed in by telephone for a more sober analysis of the tax findings. By then, Maddow’s show was about to end.

On Twitter, journalists complained that Maddow had overhyped her findings with the initial teasing tweet, noting that the information in the returns did not amount to a scandal. Others asked why so much of the focus was on Maddow and not the subject at hand. “The President of the United States has not released his tax returns,” wrote Peter Hamby, a journalist at Snapchat who previously worked for CNN. “Journalists are attacking Maddow for using her show to discuss this.”

Good reviews or bad — scoop or no scoop — Maddow’s Tuesday program is sure to keep her at the center of the political conversation. Last week, Maddow achieved a ratings milestone, beating out Fox News heavyweights Bill O’Reilly and Tucker Carlson among viewers ages 25 to 54, the most coveted demographic in television news.

“Never imagined I would want to choose a restaurant based on their willingness to turn on Rachel Maddow’s show,” the Politico reporter Josh Dawsey wrote on Twitter on Tuesday evening. “Yet here we are.”


Reader Comments ...


Next Up in Politics

GOP, unified against Obama, struggles for consensus under Trump
GOP, unified against Obama, struggles for consensus under Trump

Whenever a major conservative plan in Washington has collapsed, blame has usually been fairly easy to pin on the Republican hard-liners who insist on purity over practicality. But as Republicans sifted through the detritus of their failed effort to replace the Affordable Care Act, they were finding fault almost everywhere they looked. President Donald...
Pelley is pulling no punches — and people are taking notice
Pelley is pulling no punches — and people are taking notice

With the words "credibility questioned" prominent on the screen, Scott Pelley once again is doing what network evening-news anchors generally don't do: abandoning careful neutrality in favor of pointed truth-telling.  He is talking Thursday night about President Donald Trump. And here are some of the words he is using: "his boasting...
Frankel seeks federal money for local costs when Trump visits
Frankel seeks federal money for local costs when Trump visits

The Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office and other local law enforcement agencies assist the Secret Service when President Donald Trump visits Palm Beach.
Drugmakers take to airwaves to counter Trump's charge

The top trade association for U.S. drugmakers is spending more on television advertising than any other special-interest group, part of a multi-year campaign to repair the industry's reputation and counter President Donald Trump's claims that it's "getting away with murder" on pricing. The Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America...
Study: U.S. may not need a wall to keep immigrants out
Study: U.S. may not need a wall to keep immigrants out

The White House is already moving forward with its plan to construct a massive wall along the southern border of the country. But new research suggests the influx of low-skilled immigrants is already dropping, as forces that are far more powerful than a wall act to keep immigrants out. In a new paper, economists at the University of California San...
More Stories