The Trump Tax Issue [VIDEO]
The Trump Tax Issue [VIDEO]
Of course, this was accompanied by a particularly damning headline.
Trump's 1995 taxes show a $916 million loss, suggesting he could have paid no federal taxes for up to 18 years https://t.co/kedGabJpxe
— The New York Times (@nytimes) October 2, 2016
Depends on how you read it.
More Accurate Headline Would Be "Trump Declared a $916 Million Loss on 1995 Taxes" pic.twitter.com/YXIYObnKec
— Chuck Ross (@ChuckRossDC) October 2, 2016
Of course, the media ran with it.
As presented, and as picked apart on Twitter, this is an extremely problematic story. Let’s look at some of the problems involved.
1) Publishing anyone’s tax records puts the Times in legal hot water.
So, one magical day, Donald Trump’s tax records just happened to be anonymously mailed to a NYT reporter.
That time someone mailed me Donald Trump's tax returns https://t.co/ZiAlRaF6tP
— Susanne Craig (@susannecraig) October 2, 2016
I mean, surprise! Just showed up, poof!
Snail mailed 'em, out of nowhere 📬 https://t.co/jHGFJy9sI8
— Brian Stelter (@brianstelter) October 2, 2016
And while reporters wondered about the legality of publishing these documents, as Jazz Shaw pointed out…
I wonder where those tax documents came from? The person who the Times describes as an anonymous source might want to take a look at 26 U.S. Code § 6103 – Confidentiality and disclosure of returns and return information. The law has been broken here, but there’s scant mention of that in the Gray Lady. Imagine our surprise.
… this leads us directly into problem #2.
2) There is no verification of these records.
Not that the NYT cared one bit. It seems that they were more than happy to publish these pages, even though they can’t exactly call the IRS and say “hey, we have these pages of Donald Trump’s tax returns from 1995 – could you verify these numbers for us, please?”
Of course, the NYT is not interested in the truth. They are interested in putting out a “bombshell.” And they have short memories of what happens when a “bombshell” blows up in your own face.
I will say two words about a mysterious envelope in October before a national election:
— Stephen Miller (@redsteeze) October 2, 2016
And as some Twitter users point out, something is a little off with these documents.
Trump lost so much money that his tax preparer had to use a typewriter to manually add the -91 at the beginning of the -915,729,293. Wow. pic.twitter.com/SbnsEKImnT
— Josh Jordan (@NumbersMuncher) October 2, 2016
Like the placement of those negative numbers.
If these records turn out to be falsified, the NYT will have shredded up and set fire to the very last of their journalistic credibility. Not to mention their own flaming hypocrisy when it comes to paying taxes…
— Jazz Shaw (@JazzShaw) October 2, 2016
The Times got a golden goose mailed to them, and they were going to use it. Hypocrisy be damned. They have a candidate to smear!
3) The Trump campaign did not dispute the veracity of the documents.
This is a problem. The campaign immediately issued a condemnation, but not a denial.
Here's the Trump campaign's response to the NY Times' Trump tax return scoop: pic.twitter.com/dJJae5l1JE
— Frank Thorp V (@frankthorp) October 2, 2016
And others pointed out the problem for Trump.
Donald Trump’s catch-22: To sue the New York Times for publishing his tax returns, he’d have to admit they’re his https://t.co/9v1qJnrbmG
— Quartz (@qz) October 2, 2016
The smarter move would have been to state that the campaign had no comment until consulting with their legal counsel, then find the tax records on Trump’s end and compare them. Yes, it probably does mean the real tax return from 1995 would have to be released, but we are talking about tax returns that are over 20 years old. Of course, we could talk about 1995. Shall we talk about 1995, Clinton campaign? You know, the year when Bill was using an intern as a cigar holder?
Even with the campaign shakeups, the Trump campaign does not seem to be savvy enough to NOT be reactionary when something like this happens. The next move is definitely in Trump’s court. Either he sues and acknowledges the documents are real, or he produces the real tax returns and throws an entire omelet on the face of the New York Times. Either one is not a good look for the Times, but only the latter really would hurt their public image.
I honestly have no idea which tack the Trump campaign will take, mostly because the campaign reflects the personality of the candidate himself – reactionary and unpredictable. And so too does the Clinton campaign – calculating and soulless. The New York Times tossed some shade at Hillary over her treatment of Gennifer Flowers in 1992, but that maybe cost them an extra pineapple in the thank-you fruit basket from the Clinton campaign. The media is now talking about Trump’s taxes – and that’s exactly what Hillary wanted.