Stephen Colbert mocked MSNBC host Rachel Maddow Wednesday for massively overplaying her big scoop on President Donald Trump's tax returns and making her audience wait for what turned out to be a nothingburger.
Fallon told Maddow that the tax returns she announced Tuesday night on Twitter, which became highly anticipated by Democrats and the media, were a letdown. Zac Petkanas, a senior adviser to the Democratic National Committee, said: "The White House's willingness to release some tax information when it suits them proves Donald Trump's audit excuse is a sham".
"The joke in question: Why did the chicken - but first a word on chickens", Colbert said.
The joke was: "Why did the chicken cross the road?" "The answer - right after the break".
And if none of those things are true ... then show us the tax returns so we can stop freaking out about it.
But by deliberately overselling what she had - in what was obviously a naked ratings play, Maddow provided an unintended win for the White House and damaged her credibility on this issue going forward. Instead it was two pages, broadcast on Maddow's programme on MSNBC, showing that in 2005 Trump earned $150m and paid $38m ($5.3m in regular federal income tax and $31m in the "alternative minimum tax", which he has said should be scrapped).
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Despite a 40-year tradition of presidential nominees releasing their tax returns, Mr. Trump has refused to do so.
Until Trump does so, Maddow will continue to hunt for them.
On Tuesday, Maddow teased on Twitter that she would expose the new information almost an hour and a half before The Rachel Maddow Show aired. He's the author of "The Making of Donald Trump" and an expert on tax policy.
MADDOW: I have here is a copy of Donald Trump's tax returns. The documents show he made more than $150 million in 2005 and paid about $38 million in federal taxes, a roughly 25 percent tax rate.
'That's why every president back to Watergate has done it, ' she said of Trump's refusal to release his tax returns. While she didn't reveal the income figures immediately, she did tell viewers at the top of the show the exact documents that were obtained and how they came to light, she said. "It is amusing to me that a president would spend this much energy and political capital to keep secret his finances and his taxes specifically and simultaneously would want to brag about how much money he made".