Rachel Maddow’s big reveal of Donald Trump’s headline-challenged 2005 tax return attracted 4.13 million viewers Tuesday night – her biggest audience ever. About 1.4M of those viewers who watched her MSNBC program fell into the 25-54 news demographic group. That’s also a record for Maddow’s show.
Her Trump tax reveal nabbed the network’s second-biggest audience ever for MSNBC for a regularly scheduled show, behind only the October 29, 2008 episode of Countdown With Keith Olbermann, which had averaged 4.2 million total viewers. That came six days before the 2008 election that put Barack Obama into the White House.
On Tuesday night, Maddow edged out time-slot competitors Tucker Carlson Tonight (3.015M viewers and 594K in demo) on Fox News as well as CNN’s 1.1M and 396K demo viewers.
Maddow’s show was the third most watched in all of TV in its time slot, trailing by several laps NBC’s This is Us, which set a series record with 12.816 million viewers tuned in, as well as CBS’ NCIS: New Orleans (10.824M)
Trump wasn’t the only critic of the broadcast, which was nicked by some viewers and TV-industry navel lint gazers as being a whole lot of buildup – she’d kept viewers panting for about 24 minutes before finally getting down to the info she’d obtained – for very little bang. Among the Twitter complaints by viewers as they foamed over: “More than a million people have signed a petition demanding that Rachel Maddow release Trump’s tax returns” and “Why won’t Rachel Maddow release Donald Trump’s tax returns? What’s she hiding” – and, our personal fave, “This is SNL’s worst cold open.”
Rachel Maddow battled back on Thursday, telling the Associated Press that if people felt let down by her report it’s more because of their preconceived ideas than anything she did.
About 90 minutes before her program, Maddow caused social media to go insane when she tweeted:
She waited about 50 minutes before tweeting that what she had gotten her hands on was two pages from one year’s returns:
“Because I have information about the President doesn’t mean that it’s necessarily a scandal,” she insisted to AP two days later. “It doesn’t mean that it’s damning information. If other people leaped to that conclusion without me indicating that it was, that hype is external to what we did.”
Among those lampooning Maddow’s tactics, CBS’ Late Show host Stephen Colbert:
Subscribe to Deadline Breaking News Alerts and keep your inbox happy.