MSNBC, Rachel Maddow and the Art of Fake News

Rachel Maddow is a credible commentator and opinion leader. But like Bernie Sanders she has developed a cult of personality making her above criticism. Nevertheless she is not above the rules of common decency and fair play. Her network, MSNBC violated those rules with the recent reporting by David Cay Johnston who received a copy of Donald Trump’s 2005 tax return.

Maddow allowed Johnston to break the news on television by appearing as a guest on her show. Johnston is a long time Trump antagonist and recipient of the Pulitzer Prize, an IRE Medal and the George Polk Award. In other words his credentials speak for themselves and he deserves the respect of the journalist community.

Apparently the Maddow Show and MSNBC see things differently. They believe and are trumpeting that since Johnston spoke for the first time about his report that they in fact deserve the credit and broke the story. Watching last night’s MSNBC lineup the scrolling headline proudly boasted of Maddow breaking this news. Even Facebook got in on the act and at this moment, Rachel Maddow is the leading trendsetter in news directing its member to the Vox.com report entitled:

Read the leaked pages of Trump’s 2005 tax returns

MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow Show released two pages of Trump tax returns Tuesday night.

Now if the headline and scroll read something like:

David Cay Johnston receives leaked copy of Trump’s tax return

Explains on MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow Show

Okay so I’m not a great headline writer but I do know self-aggrandizement when I see it. Maddow and her network are shamefully taking credit knowing that those in her production staff’s age group as well as the current resident of the White House have little patience to read below the headline on their social media feed.

Maddow, MSNBC and all those media outlets who disrespected Mr. Johnston by reporting as facts Maddow’s attempt to steal credit for his work should issue a correction and an apology.

Now I agree with the liberal side of things and I respect the craft of journalism. But I do not engage in the cult of personality around those like Maddow. I have more respect for her fellow MSNBC commentators Chris Matthews and Lawrence O’Donnell because they actually served on the front lines in government. Maybe that is a matter of generational bias or simply preference. But stealing credit for breaking news from an award winning leader in the field of investigative journalism is beyond the pale.

The idea that Rachel Maddow broke the news about Trump’s tax return is in fact fake news.