Maddow’s tax return letdown shows need for more accuracy in reporting

Today’s politically charged atmosphere has become a shouting match to prove who is better and who is right. This bitter spectacle prompts people to bypass daily news cycles. But every so often a story breaks that entirely captures the public’s attention.

One of these stories unfolded on Rachel Maddow’s MSNBC show March 21. She tweeted about gaining President Trump’s long-awaited tax returns, but what she gave the public instead was a major letdown. Critics of Trump hoped these tax returns would incriminate the president in a damaging scandal. However, Trump made $153 million and paid $36.5 million in income taxes in 2005 – not the numbers for which his critics were hoping. Maddow received tremendous backlash for the way she hyped up this story to then let her viewers down in the execution.

Reporters are reading too far into situations based on their own assumptions, doing a disservice to the average Americans who count on the media to report based on truth. Maddow’s attempt to force nothing into something is a symptom of the assumption-based, view-crazy media dynamic that exists today.

Exaggerating stories without sufficient substance only disheartens the public and discourages them from trusting the media’s ability to provide accurate news. When reporters sensationalize certain issues, viewers are left feeling misinformed and confused.

Whether the information comes from the right or left wing, reporters need to return to the facts and crucial problems facing the nation. As evident from Maddow’s show, marketing stories solely based on conjecture eventually backfire.

The media has a responsibility to be patient in their reporting, rather than focusing on churning out big headlines that bring in viewers. Reporters must become more aware of their end goals and broaden the scope of issues they cover to provide factual information so the public is able to draw its own conclusions.

Nicole Macias is a freshman majoring in English.

Featured image courtesy Flickr user Paul Schultz