Ethics Observation On The Trump 2005 Tax Return

Yesterday, MSNBC host Rachel Maddow endlessly hyped the fact that  veteran investigative reporter David Cay Johnston had obtained President Trump’s 2005 federal tax return. When it was revealed, the scoop didn’t justify the hype. Trump  paid 38 million in taxes that year,  24% of his income—not the top rate, but not “nothing,” which was the rumor Democrats were selling during the campaign.

Ethics points:

1. Whoever leaked the return broke the law, and doing so was unethical.  No, it’s not illegal for the news media to take material stolen by others and sanctify it via their First Amendment protections.  It should be though. When they do this, they aide and abet a crime, and Freedom of the Press wasn’t supposed to allow THAT. At very least, journalists should be required to reveal the names of the criminals who steal and release our proprietary documents. The publication of these makes such thefts worse, not better.

2. I don’t see why the President’s tax returns from 12 years ago has any genuine relevance to anything now. The returns were relevant to the decision of whether or not people wanted to vote for him. Now, the tax documents have no purpose, except for the insatiable Trump-bashers to have something new to bash him with. Anything will do.

3. David Cay Johnston was dishing about his “scoop” with GMA’s George Stephanopoulos, and decided to start a new rumor. He speculated that Trump leaked the return himself.  No evidence, not a drop, and yet that’s what this veteran reporter felt was justifiable to say on national TV. Gee, can we call THAT fake news?

4. Then, as he did with Maddow, the reporter went on about all the conflicts of interest that Trump’s financial dealings have created. Again, this is re-litigating the election. At this point, there is no practical way to eliminate Trump’s conflicts and the appearance of impropriety that they create, and he’s not going to bother trying. Johnston, and others, including me, never made a clear case to the public why the President’s unprecedented financial entanglements should have been disqualifying; nor did Hillary, in part because her own financial entanglements were disqualifying. Well, the train left the station, y’all. You had your chance, and botched it. Johnston, like so many of the other bitter-enders who want to turn back time, ultimately get back to, “But…but…but…we never should have elected this guy! Surely there is something we can do to undo it!”

No, there isn’t. Cut it out.

5. Over at the Washington Post, a clearly disappointed Paul Waldman, one of the paper’s more openly partisan flacks, again started beating the drums for Trump to release all his returns now. Trump should have released his returns during the campaign,  but he’d be insane to release them now. There is literally no up-side for him or the nation for him to do that: it will just give his most virulent enemies, whose goal is to bring down his government, more opportunity to insist that he be impeached, or shot, or burned alive. Waldman writes:

“We have never had a president for whom it was more important that we see their returns, because Trump has an extraordinarily complex web of financial interests all over the world, has refused to divest himself of those interests, and has, with his family, obviously seen the presidency as a golden opportunity to cash in. Which is why we all have to keep demanding them, until Trump releases them. It’ll almost certainly require a court order or a congressional subpoena to pry them from his hands, but if that’s what it takes, so be it.”

This is so slimy. How has the President “obviously” treated his office as a “golden opportunity to cash in”? This is a disgusting slur, and there is no reason to say it, or assume it, except to denigrate the President of the United States. Go ahead, keep demanding the returns. Knock yourself out. They are private documents and proprietary information. Moreover, there will be no court orders or Congressional subpoenas absent a specific and subsantive justification beyond “we really hate this guy, and we’ll keep fishing until we get the good on him.”

6. I have protested more than once here that I resent being made to defend Donald Trump. I will resent even more being made to admire Donald Trump, but if he can manage a half-successful administration and get any productive work on behalf of the country done at all in the face of this relentless, hateful, mad and nationally-destructive onslaught, I will admire him.

195 Comments

Filed under Business & Commercial, Character, Ethics Train Wrecks, Finance, Government & Politics, Journalism & Media, Law & Law Enforcement, Rights

195 responses to “Ethics Observation On The Trump 2005 Tax Return

  1. Jim

    I’m amused that MSNBC is discussed as if it were a “real news” source, yet infoWars is denigrated. The big TV talking head shows can misspeak, be fooled, fail to produce evidence etc yet never called fake news.(except by the most powerful man inthe world, the duly elected President of the United States.) InfoWars has been right many times about coverups, fraud and left wing conspiracy theories, yet commenters still quote the old lies that have been generated about Jones’ statements.(“they making the frogs gay!”) Now it’s fashionable to edit his statements to generate false statements, asserting he is racist, homophobic.

    • Jim wrote, “I’m amused that MSNBC is discussed as if it were a “real news” source, yet infoWars is denigrated.”

      I understand what your perspective; however, I don’t consider either one of them to be “news”. In fact there is actually little on news stations that I consider “news broadcasts”, most of it is opinionated commentary shows.

    • Chris

      I’m amused that MSNBC is discussed as if it were a “real news” source, yet infoWars is denigrated.

      If you’re amused by this, you’re a moron; there is no equivalence.

      The big TV talking head shows can misspeak, be fooled, fail to produce evidence etc yet never called fake news.(except by the most powerful man inthe world, the duly elected President of the United States.)

      Jack routinely calls left-leaning news stories “fake news” when they are false or misleading.

      InfoWars has been right many times about coverups, fraud and left wing conspiracy theories,

      Give an example, and explain why it’s more relevant than all the times they’ve been wrong, such as their 9/11 conspiracy theories, Sandy Hook conspiracy theories, chemtrail bullshit, etc.

      yet commenters still quote the old lies that have been generated about Jones’ statements.(“they making the frogs gay!”)

      That is not a lie. That is literally what Jones said.

      Now it’s fashionable to edit his statements to generate false statements, asserting he is racist, homophobic.

      He is absolutely, unquestionably both.

      • Agreed. And despite his sanctification since his death, Andrew Brietbart was not that much better. There’s a big difference between incredibly slanted (MSNBC) and deranged.

  2. Stephen Colbert, who would be a real satirist rather than a partisan hit man if he just exploited the rich mine of potential material on the Left, say, just 5% of the time, did an excellent job exposing Maddow’s absurd hyping of the return: http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/news/stephen-colbert-mocks-rachel-maddows-trump-tax-tease-986628

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s