Mainstream media figures have repeatedly failed to challenge claims by surrogates for Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump that “no one is asking about” Trump’s taxes and that they “don’t hear a lot of interest from people” on the subject. Recent polling data shows that majorities of both likely voters and likely Republican voters want Trump to release his tax returns.
A Majority Of Likely Voters Want To See Donald Trump’s Tax Returns
Politico: Sixty-two Percent Of Republicans, 74 Percent Of All Voters Want Trump's Tax Returns. Politico reported that the latest national Quinnipiac University survey found that “among all likely voters surveyed, 74 percent said the businessman should release his tax returns” and that “more than six in 10 Republican voters, 62 percent to 31 percent, said they would like to see their party's nominee do so.” [Politico, 8/25/16]
Despite Public Interest, Media Figures Let Trump Surrogates Claim That People “Aren’t Interested” And “Aren’t Asking For” His Tax Returns
Trump’s Campaign Manager: “I Can’t Find Where This Is A Burning Issue To Most Of Americans.” Asked whether an offer from the founder of LinkedIn to “give veterans groups $5 million if Donald Trump releases his tax records” is an “impetus for” Trump, campaign manager Kellyanne Conway replied that after looking at “everybody’s polling,” she “just can’t find where this is a burning issue to most of Americans.” From the September 13 edition of CNN’s New Day:
ALISYN CAMEROTA (HOST): The founder of LinkedIn, Reid Hoffman, is offering to give veterans groups $5 million if Donald Trump releases his tax records. That sounds like a great deal for veterans. That's obviously a cause close to Mr. Trump's heart. Will this be an impetus for him despite -- we know what his lawyers have said, but the IRS has said that he can release it. They will not punish him. Lots of tax attorneys said have said he can release it. He will not be punished. Will he release it now given this motivation?
KELLYANNE CONWAY: No. I hope that that man thinks so much of the veterans that he would give them $5 million whether or not Mr. Trump defies the advice of his lawyer and his accountant and releases his taxes. And I also would love to tell you, Alisyn, that I've looked at the CNN polling, looked at everybody's polling, I look at our own polling. I just can't find where this is a burning issue to most of Americans. [CNN, New Day, 9/13/16]
Trump Running Mate Mike Pence: “I Don’t Hear A Lot Of People Talking About Tax Returns.” On CNN’s The Situation Room, Indiana Gov. Mike Pence -- Trump’s running mate -- explained that he “know[s] that members of the media are very interested in this” but said Trump’s tax returns are “not what the American people are talking about.” From the September 12 edition of CNN’s The Situation Room:
MIKE PENCE: I do have to tell you, though, Wolf. As I travel around the country -- I know members of the media are very interested in this. I don’t hear a lot of people when I’m out on the stump, as I was in Virginia just a few short days ago, I don’t hear a lot of people talking about tax returns.
WOLF BLITZER (HOST): So we're not going to get any information about his taxes until the audit is complete, including earlier years when those audits were completed?
MIKE PENCE: I think that’s the right answer, but, again, I just want to tell you, this is not what the American people are talking about. And, I respect the role of the media -- you know I have throughout my career -- asking all the tough questions. But I think the American people are concerned about their future. [CNN, The Situation Room, 9/12/16]
Trump Senior Advisor: Americans Are “Far More Concerned” About “Their Personal Taxes” Than Trump’s Taxes. When CNN host Anderson Cooper asked, “Why shouldn’t the American people know how much [Trump] pays in taxes,” Trump senior advisor Sarah Huckabee Sanders argued without challenge that “what most Americans care about a whole lot more than Donald Trump's taxes are their own taxes.” From the September 9 edition of CNN’s Anderson Cooper 360:
ANDERSON COOPER (HOST): Why shouldn’t the American people know how much he pays in taxes, what his tax rate is, since they know that about Hillary Clinton. They’ve have known that about about every presidential candidate since Richard Nixon.
COOPER: But the audit that's gone through right now has no bearing because, again, the IRS has already seen 2002 to 2008. So what you're saying doesn't make sense.
SARAH HUCKABEE SANDERS: We may just have to agree to disagree. But I think the bigger point and the bigger question, what most Americans care about a whole lot more than Donald Trump's taxes are their own taxes, Anderson. They are far more concerned about who's going to help cut their personal taxes, who's going to help create economy growth in America, and Donald Trump's clearly the candidate that's going to be able to do that versus Hillary Clinton.
COOPER: All right.
SANDERS: I think that’s what most Americans are asking about. [CNN, Anderson Cooper 360, 9/9/16]
Fox Host: “No One Is Asking About [Trump’s] Taxes” Anymore, “So Maybe This Has Actually Helped Him.” On Fox News’ Your World, host Neil Cavuto speculated that since “no one is asking about [Trump’s] tax returns” maybe increased attention to his medical records “has actually helped him.” Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus responded, “Maybe the people aren't interested in people's taxes.” From the September 12 edition of Fox News’ Your World with Neil Cavuto:
NEIL CAVUTO (HOST): I’m wondering if the fuss over not being revealing about your medical records and the rest has taken the heat of Donald Trump on the tax record thing. Or does it remind the American public in general, both these guys have something to hide?
REINCE PRIEBUS: Well, look, I don't think that Donald Trump is hiding anything on the medical records. He said he's going to reveal more information this week. He hasn't been trying to hide anything about his medical records. And he's not doing things in public for people to start wondering what’s wrong with his health.
CAVUTO: Well, no one is asking about his taxes. No one is asking about his tax returns. Right? So maybe this has actually helped him.
PRIEBUS: Maybe so. Maybe the people aren't interested in people's taxes. Maybe the reason why not a lot of people are talking about his tax returns is that it's not actually something people want to talk about, and when news media outlets talk about his tax returns, they're not getting a whole lot of interest, so they’re not talking about his tax returns. [Fox News, Your World with Neil Cavuto, 9/12/16]
Republican National Committee Chairman: “I Just Don't Hear A Lot Of Interest From People In This Subject.” When America’s Newsroom co-host Bill Hemmer asked Reince Priebus whether Trump “will go the next two months without releasing” his tax returns, Priebus offered the explanation that “we are talking about a garage full of documents ... and right now people aren’t really asking for it.” From the September 13 edition of Fox News’ America’s Newsroom:
BILL HEMMER (CO-HOST): What about her point on taxes? When will they be out?
REINCE PRIEBUS: Well, look, honestly -- and I’m not trying to skirt the question, Bill -- I just don't hear a lot of interest from people in this subject and learning about the individual taxes or the thousands of LLC’s corporate filings of Donald Trump.
HEMMER: So it's possible he will go next two months without releasing that then? Is that what you’re suggesting?
PRIEBUS: We are talking about a garage full of documents that is not the easiest thing to produce, and right now and people aren't really asking about it. [Fox News, America’s Newsroom, 9/13/16]