Sunday, The New York Times released a long-form initial story on Trump’s tax returns. Those returns apparently go back decades and were illegally leaked at some point. My supposition is that the Times has likely had this information for a while — months, or perhaps even years, in advance of its eventual release. It is not a coincidence that they began this roll-out right before the first debate.
Regardless, the supposed bombshell turned out to be mostly a big dud. There were no connections with Russia shown, no blackmail material in regards to debts, and the President appears to have paid his taxes legally. While Democrats are still desperately trying to spin the story as significant, you can almost feel the disappointment in every cable news hit on the topic. For years, we’ve been assured Trump’s taxes were going to show criminal behavior and foreign interference. Now, they are moving the goalposts, and no one but those already predisposed to do so is buying it.
But it’s what the Times left out of their report that really gives the game away. While they breathlessly reported that Trump paid little income tax in 2016 and 2017, both years he has already admitted to losing money in, they conspicuously left out all the years before that in their write-up.
Since New York Times tax story begins with simple statement of what Trump paid in federal income tax in 2016 and 2017, would be helpful if the paper published a simple chart of what he paid in each of the 18 years covered, 2000 to 2017.
— Byron York (@ByronYork) September 28, 2020
We all know why they didn’t do that and it gives the game away. As I’ve noted many times before, the most pervasive, effective bias in the media isn’t what they say. It’s what they don’t say. In this case, it’s pretty obvious that Trump was making a lot of money and paying a lot of taxes in the decades that preceded his presidential run. This is especially true during the time he was doing The Apprentice. The reality is that he almost certainly paid tens of millions in taxes over many of the years from 2000-2015, for which the Times claims to have the returns.
That wouldn’t fit the narrative, though, so the Times only focuses on two years in which he spent gobs of money on his own campaign and clearly took losses due to the harming of his brand by partisan politics. Trump is from New York. It should surprise no one that him running for and becoming President has severely hampered his earning opportunities given the political makeup of the people and areas his businesses normally targeted.
Further, even in the years he took losses, they were done in a way that is typical of those with large scale real estate operations. Devaluation is something any smart businessman would take advantage of. Trump did that, and he did it legally.
But the Times won’t give you the whole picture because this isn’t about facts. It’s about influencing the election. The media have done far more to undermine the integrity of November 3rd than any foreign country could have hoped to do.
(Please follow me on Twitter! @bonchieredstate)