MSNBC's Rachel Maddow spent a good deal of time promoting a major scoop that would air on her March 14 broadcast.
“We have Trump's tax returns!” she crowed:
And then she clarified that it was a relatively old return (12 years old, to be exact):
What she didn't say, prior to the big reveal, was that she had only two pages of President Trump's 2005 tax return — and that those two pages revealed a tax rate near 25%, a greater rate than many of his critics.
The “bombshell” turned out to be a dud — such a dud, in fact, that even the Washington Post called it a “nothing burger.”
And millions recalled a similar “nothing burger,” delivered by Geraldo Rivera when he opened Al Capone's vault to find “an empty Gilbey's gin bottle and a 1926 stop sign”:
And Geraldo himself got in on the joke:
He reminded Maddow that she had criticized him when he alluded to explosive “Trump tapes” and never delivered, and delivered a hefty dose of karma:
Geraldo joined host Melissa Francis on “America's News HQ” on March 15 to discuss the issue, and he was certainly able to embrace his own mishap with humor:
"I had hoped it would resurrect my career.
I knew that everyone had tuned in, and I wanted to bury myself in that hole when I found nothing.
But what I found in there were ratings ... And the next day, I had 22 job offers."
Geraldo also hinted that this was “payback” for Maddow making fun of him when, during the election, he hinted that he might have additional “Trump tapes” and then failed to deliver:
“Rachel Maddow now has the mantel of the Al Capone Vault.”
Francis noted the obvious discrepancy — that Geraldo had no prior knowledge that there would be nothing in Capone's vault.
“She knew while she was doing all that hyping what was in the tax returns. She knew while she was hyping that she wasn't really revealing anything.”
Francis and Geraldo also discussed the fact that the published pages actually flew in the face of the narratives that MSNBC had been working so hard to propagate. A 25% tax rate refuted claims that the president had been avoiding taxes — and, according to Francis, was a higher rate than President Obama paid in 2015.
And a payment of $38 million (and a total income of $153 million) indicates that he is, in fact, as rich as he claims to be.
Geraldo even noted: “What I learned is that President Trump needs to hire a new tax attorney. He paid twice what Mitt Romney did.”