If you are like me, you may have assumed that the word “news” suggests something new. In terms of the national media, it implies new developments worthy of public attention – and that the most important news is presented on the front page of a newspaper, the cover of a magazine or in the lead of a newscast.
That is why the BiG story on the front page of the New York Times – and by extension, the lead in so many of the so-called cable news shows – did not seem to meet ANY of the criteria. It left me scratching my head.
Allow me to explain.
After an exhaustive investigation, the NYT published a report on President Trump’s financial situation in the late 1980s and early 1990s – some thirty years ago. They garnered the information from the financial figures associated with Trump’s tax returns of that era.
This is where it gets interesting. The writers said that they never had possession or even seen actual copies of the President’s returns but got the information from IRS computers – where such information is uploaded so that taxpayers can review old tax information. At least that is their story.
The Times said it used those particular years because that was the only period to which they gained access. They will not, however, tell how they gained that access. It is difficult to imagine that they had done so legally, but it is a mystery. It is also the only question that seems to have actual news value – something worth investigating.
What the tax information revealed, according to the Times, was that Donald Trump went through a very bad financial period. As a major real estate developer, he suffered big time when the real estate market took a dive. You could even say he was on the ropes – possibly down to his last millions. (Wouldn’t we all like to be on those “ropes?”)
The Times claims that Trump was never as rich as he claimed. That was the centerpiece of the report. They went on to incongruously claim that he had lost more than $1 billion dollars during that period – more than any American taxpayer has ever lost – so they say.
It occurred to me that something was quite wrong with their analysis. I would tend to believe that anyone who could lose more than $1 billion had to be pretty damn rich in the first place. But that is just me.
They detailed how Trump has lost several of his properties, his casino, his multimillion-dollar boat, his big airplane and lots of cash.
The ENTIRE purpose of the overly hyped piece of trash journalism was to make the claim that Trump was not as rich and successful as he liked to claim. He was – according to Joe Scarborough, of “Morning Joe” – a loser. In the more common language of the streets of New York City, Trump was a “bullsh*tter.”
Looking at the culture of New York City developers, I would have assumed that to be part of the profession – and I would not need the New York Times to dredge up an old and relatively meaningless story to tell me so.
The other thing that makes this bit of investigative journalism interesting is that the story is not only not new, it is not news. During that period, Trump’s financial problems were well documented in the media. The Times did not have to delve into Trump’s dubiously obtained tax information. They could have done the front-page article by checking out the media morgues of any number of publications and outlets.
Now, it is true that most Americans would not have remembered or even known of those loooong ago reports. That appears to be precisely the thinking of the editors over at the Times. In this case, they are putting old wine in a new bottle. Like the discount second-hand store on the corner, the august Times is taking up the motto, “its new to you.”
Since the entire point of the article was to discredit Trump as a successful businessman, I wondered why the Times had stopped after the first act of the melodrama. It would seem that Trump’s obvious economic recovery was a story at least as important in judging his success – maybe even more so.
Unlike the NYT, I am not privy to Trump’s financial details, but as an outside observer, I would have to say that he has been rather successful. He seems to have gotten back everything he lost – and more.
So, what is the point of the article on the Times front-page? It seems like the kind of low-level sensationalism that one expects to find on the cover of the National Enquirer – and any of those other checkout counter publications. It has the stench of a faux scandal.
The fact that the #NeverTrump Resistance Movement media has followed suit in hyping a story best relegated to the History Channel indicates a professional depravity – founded on an obsession.
The response to the story should be – and may be – a YUGE, “So what?” – with one exception. The burning question is how the NYT got the information. But that is where journalistic curiosity and investigative reporting ends in the east coast elitist press. There is, however, a real story there.
So, there ‘tis