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Fair point that I haven’t been following her reporting, and therefore am not putting this story in the context of her other work.

But the impact on non-viewers is my point. To have political influence, one must get beyond preaching to the choir.

In this case, Maddow drew outside attention not to a substantial case against Trump, but to evidence of the opposite: a single clean tax return. She simultaneously disproved Hillary Clinton’s accusation that Trump didn’t pay income taxes and changed the national story from “Trumpcare Hurts Millions” or “Russia Investigation Continues” to “Maddow Comes Up Empty.”

I don’t want to make too big a deal out of this. In the grand scheme of things it won’t matter. But Maddow’s conducting her investigation under the assumption of major corruption—an assumption her audience shares — for which she just needs to find the evidence. Hyping and then showing two pages from Trump’s 2005 return certainly did not help make the case to people who do not already agree with her, and may have hindered it.

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