Read the New York Times’ ‘scoop’ on Trump’s tax returns and you’ll see – from its own weak evidence – it really is just fake news
The NYT’s much-heralded exclusive claiming that Trump is ‘profiting’ from his presidency despite going ‘broke’ during his tenure has more holes than Swiss cheese.
You don’t have to look any further than at the big breaking story in the NYT this week about the US president’s taxes to find a treasure trove of evidence that it really does publish fake news. In fact, it must relish doing so, or it wouldn’t have taken years to investigate and then simply rush out a story that is so obviously littered with fake diamonds right there on the surface for all to see.
Here is the evidence that the paper of record misconstrues raw facts into fake news. It’s demonstrated by the story’s internal inconsistencies and the wild leaps of logic that are necessary to take its newly disclosed evidence from Trump’s tax documents to where it was hoping the story would lead when it started gathering evidence.
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The numbers don’t add up
The New York Times says Trump’s “proceeds from fame continued to tumble, falling below $10 million in 2017 and to $2.9 million in 2018.” It uses this statement to claim he “was in need of financial reinvigoration.” Then it states, as if it can determine Trump’s internal motives from these bare facts, this financial desperation motivated him to run for president.
It must be using some kind of ultra-new math to come up with the timeline-twisting logic to leap from those scant facts about a drop in Trump’s wealth in 2017 and 2018 to the conclusion that they must have been the reason he ran for president in 2015. What?
The paper’s numerical rabbit hole gains even more twists and turns when it tries to use Trump’s tax records as evidence for its own longtime claim that he is profiteering from the presidency. After raising the question, once again, as to whether his businesses benefit from his being in office, the NYT answers its own question in the affirmative, saying “in some respects.”
It points to the flood of new members joining Trump’s Florida resort, Mar-a-Lago, in 2015 – before Trump was even elected, remember – as evidence, stating that his running for president allowed him to pocket millions of dollars more a year from his business. That’s right – it claims he profited from becoming president before the election, oblivious to the fact that it just told us his fortunes after the election fell to $10 million in 2017 and then fell another 70 percent to $2.9 million in 2018. Without even realizing it, the NYT inadvertently proved Trump did exactly as he had said he would do: he gave up his personal money-making enterprises when he became president, causing his personal annual income to plunge.
The paper notes that Trump’s Washington hotel, which opened just as he was elected, has lost more than $55 million. Yet it also claims he has received a financial boost from all those lobbyists, politicians, and foreign officials who pay to stay at his properties or join his clubs. Again, the numbers just don’t add up.
You’d expect his fancy Washington, DC property next to the White House to be the one from which Trump had profited most, by slotting in reservations from all those people wanting to spend time with him. Yet the NYT reports that it’s been running at a loss throughout his term.
In fact, in trying to prove Trump has lied to the public about his vast wealth, the NYT claims the president paid no federal income taxes in 11 of the 18 years the paper examined. In 2017, the year after he was elected, it states that his tax bill was only $750. It even presents graphs that demonstrate how his income has been running increasingly negative since he took up his tenure. So, in trying to prove Trump is lying about his enormous wealth, the New York Times failed to notice it was undermining its own claim that he’s profited immensely from being president. It’s hard to go broke by getting rich.
The NYT goes on to claim that, in recent years, most of Trump’s businesses have become loss makers just to make him look like he’s a loser, in financial terms. The “recent years” it refers to would, of course, are the almost four years in which he’s been president. It even claims that the purportedly profiteering president may actually drown in his own debt as soon as he leaves office. This, the NYT avers, is why he needs to win another four years – to keep the collection agencies at bay, because who would want to go after a sitting president?
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No source, of course
We might have guessed the NYT’s numbers wouldn’t support its claims when it introduced its exposé with the following pathetic justification for not providing evidence, which has been the mainstream media’s modus operandi throughout the Trump presidency. Let’s just call it the new journalism of perpetually unidentified sources:
“We are not making the records themselves public, because we do not want to jeopardize our sources, who have taken enormous personal risks to help inform the public.”
This claim of protecting sources stretches thin. Since when does showing copies of someone’s tax documents reveal sources? There is nothing on most tax records that could give the slightest clue about who handed them over. Most are boilerplate forms with numbers filled in. The only informant who might thereby be identified would be his tax accountant, named at the bottom of his Form 1040, and that would only be a problem if the accountant were the informant.
In that case, just black out the accountant’s name, which would be a professional courtesy anyway, since the accountant is not the one in question here. It seems extraordinarily unlikely that Trump’s accountant would be the source of information about improper tax returns.
So, why hide the actual documents, instead of just redacting any telltale names? Could it be that a deeper look at the documents would reveal that they discredit more of the New York Times’ longstanding claims against Trump than are even revealed by the inconsistencies on the surface and between the lines of the story?
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The Teflon Don
The NYT even manages to establish as true Trump’s claim that he’s withholding his tax docs from the public because he’s subject to an Internal Revenue Service audit. Yet it decries his refusal to show the public his tax returns as other presidents have. What person under an audit so intense that it’s been ongoing for at least four years would display his tax information all over the universe?
Trump must truly be the Teflon Don to have operated as a major real-estate developer in New York City and – after four years of extreme and sometimes even illegal scrutiny by the world’s greatest investigative agencies, such as the FBI and the IRS – still come out of the laundry lint free.
NYC has the reputation of being a place where a developer has to work with the mafia dons to get materials trucked to a project. How did Trump get everything to come together on his massive projects, and get through all the legal red tape, and still be the kind of person against whom even the FBI – after years of intense investigation involving hundreds of its best agents – cannot come up with a single allegation?
After “an examination of decades of personal and corporate tax records for President Trump and his businesses” in “the most comprehensive picture of the president’s finances and business dealings to date,” the NYT found itself pressed to confess in its own story that there appears to be no discovery of legal malfeasance in any information it could turn up. In fact, it even had to admit that, “Nor do [the tax filings] reveal any previously unreported connections to Russia.” Darn. Just when you thought it was on to something that would have made a hot story even hotter, they couldn’t find it – just as the Mueller investigation also found no hint of improper relations with Russia.
The NYT reports all these losses on Trump’s resort properties right when it would have loved to break a story presenting evidence he was using his golf courses to launder Russian money. Quite the opposite, in fact, as it claims Trump went broke on those golf resorts – a much weaker story that slices through the heart of any money-laundering claims.
You can be sure numerous editors and reporters at the NYT pored over every document detail to find any particle they could use to underpin their broad speculations. However, after four years of investigation by the paper itself, plus by the FBI, the IRS, and New York City’s attorney general, all we have, at the end of Trump’s first term, is a feature filled with leaps of logic from scant facts – and, as usual, no sources.
The worst it could come up with is that the president doesn’t seem to be making much money from the presidency and used tax write-offs for his expensive coiffure during his television days. (Apparently, it costs a lot to get that look of a dead red squirrel on top of your head.) It does list a number of other expensive and questionable tax write-offs too, but while they may be unusual, they’re not illegal. The NYT had to admit in the end: “The filings will leave many questions unanswered, many questioners unfulfilled.” Indeed.
Good job, guys. You’ve managed to find the most squeaky-clean human being among the millions living and working in New York. Having spent so much energy for so many years, you’ve still come up with nothing but demonstrably fake news right when you needed to come up with something really big to tip the election the way of the Democrats.
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