In just two months the famed Ringling Bros. Barnum & Bailey Circus will fold up its tents for good. The 146-year old ‘Greatest Show On Earth’ was done in by high costs and expensive legal fights with animal rights groups.
But if you’re a fan of the circus, don’t fret because there is an ongoing circus of ideology and cynicism in the media. One example is New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof, normally a pretty rational guy. If you’re not familiar with him, Kristof spends an inordinate amount of time displaying his earnestness, virtue, and self-righteousness. But to be totally fair, he has also trekked to some of the world’s poorest places and issued very valuable dispatches.
Last week, for no discernable reason beyond pure Trump-hatred, Mr. Kristof tweeted this: ‘If you’re in IRS and have a certain president’s tax return that you’d like to leak, my address is: NYT, 620 Eighth Avenue, NY NY 10018.’
Nicholas Kristof is encouraging government workers to commit a felony that is punishable by five years in jail and/or $5,000 in fines. But don’t bother complaining to the Times’ legal department, since Kristof’s boss, executive editor Dean Baquet, has expressed his eagerness to go to jail if only he could publish President Trump’s returns.
A legal analyst at the Washington Post determined that Kristof is way out of bounds, writing this: ‘Soliciting illegal conduct generally counts as a form of participating in the illegal conduct.’ So there you have it – a well-respected, if little-known, columnist for the self-described ‘paper of record’ is encouraging his readers to commit a crime. Hey, Nick, maybe it’s time to get back out on the road where you do some great work.
Of course, the center ring this week was occupied by Rachel Maddow and MSNBC. In the most hyped non-event since Comet Kohoutek and Y2K (let’s leave Geraldo out of this,) Maddow revealed on Tuesday evening that she had obtained Donald Trump’s tax returns. To a hard-left progressive, this is slightly better than finding the Holy Grail.
The two-page return magically showed up in the mailbox of far-left reporter David Cay Johnston, formerly of the New York Times. He has been hounding Donald Trump, Javert-like, for decades, and his Trump Derangement Syndrome is now deep into Stage 4. ‘Donald Trump is a racist,’ Johnston recently declared, ‘and we need to recognize that we’ve put a racist in the White House.’
Despite Johnston’s irrational and undisguised hatred of the president, MSNBC gave him nearly an hour to spew vitriol Tuesday night. This despicable man actually speculated, ‘It’s entirely possible that Donald sent this to me.’
As we know now, the ‘scoop’ turned out to be a bust. In 2005 Donald Trump paid $38-million in federal taxes, which most observers felt was pretty fair. The entire spectacle was considered a victory for President Trump, whose tax return refuted Hillary Clinton’s oft-repeated charge that he had paid no taxes. But Rachel Maddow made no apologies and actually claims a journalistic coup.
One thing went almost unnoticed during this unseemly episode. During his Tuesday night turn in the spotlight, David Cay Johnston said something beyond disgusting. He muttered this about Melania Trump: ‘She did do very sleazy porn.’ To her credit, Rachel Maddow gently chastised Johnston, but his slanderous comment was ignored by the rest of the media. Johnston also implied that President Trump may be hiding ‘connections to the Russian oligarchs’ and accused the president of nefarious associations with drug kingpins and mobsters.
No doubt Johnston has an open invitation to spew his venom on MSNBC, so expect to see him again. Maybe next time someone will leave a copy of Donald Trump’s college transcripts ‘in his mailbox.’
In the end, Rachel Maddow and David Cay Johnston came up empty Tuesday evening. But they did manage to use the word ‘oligarch’ six times, and also mentioned Deutsche Bank, the Bank of Cyprus, Turkey, Azerbaijan and the Iranian Revolutionary Guard. Maddow even implied that President Trump may shape tax policy to benefit himself and his family. Rarely have so many conspiracy theories come together on national television.
Even late-night comic Stephen Colbert mocked Maddow and her methods: ‘Rachel took us on an emotional rollercoaster because, like a rollercoaster, at the end we were right back where we started, and feeling a little queasy.’
Despite this dud, the search for Donald Trump’s tax returns will continue for four years, maybe eight. And many in the media, who were remarkably incurious about President Obama’s college transcripts, will lead the charge. It brings to mind Steven Sondheim’s beautiful song ‘Send in the Clowns.’ Remember the last line of that classic? ‘Don’t bother, they’re here.’
These particular clowns are here and they are on a singular mission. They want to destroy Donald Trump by any means necessary. And, to borrow from Captain John Paul Jones, they have not yet begun to fight.