NYT's Hit Piece Includes Its Own Fact-Check: Trump Paid $1 Million in 2016 and $4.2 Million in 2017 to US Treasury


Editor’s Note: Our readers responded strongly to this story when it originally ran; we’re reposting it here in case you missed it.

The New York Times never lets the facts get in the way of a good story — it just buries them so far down no one will see.

Then it buries its own credibility, too.

That was the case Monday when the most biased “news” organization in the country published its latest in-kind donation to the Democratic Party in the form of a nearly 10,000-word account of President Donald Trump’s income tax history, deliberately written to cast Trump as a villain to hard-working, taxpaying Americans.

But one key fact buried by The Times gives the game away on how misleading the article actually was.

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The so-called “newspaper of record” started out the article with sentences apparently aimed at Everyman: It didn’t talk in billions or millions of dollars, figures most Americans don’t deal with on a regular basis (even Times readers).

Under the ominous headline “Long-Concealed Records Show Trump’s Chronic Losses and Years of Tax Avoidance,” it claimed that a billionaire who became president of the United States had “paid $750 in federal income taxes the year he won the presidency. In his first year in the White House, he paid another $750.”

That’s in the lede. The first sentence of a story that should set the tone for everything that follows.

Unfortunately for the no-doubt rapidly diminishing number of Americans who actually believe The Times can be trusted, that sentence set a tone of bias and outright dishonesty that the article itself admits in a disguised fact check a long 77 paragraphs later.

Do you think this New York Times story will hurt Trump politically?

Trump did pay millions in taxes those years: $1 million in 2016; $4.2 million in 2017.

“As he settled into the Oval Office, his tax bills soon returned to form,” The Times wrote, deep, deep, deep into the story. “His potential taxable income in 2016 and 2017 included $24.8 million in profits from sources related to his celebrity status and $56.4 million for the loans he did not repay. The dreaded alternative minimum tax would let his business losses erase only some of his liability.

“Each time, he requested an extension to file his 1040; and each time, he made the required payment to the I.R.S. for income taxes he might owe — $1 million for 2016 and $4.2 million for 2017. But virtually all of that liability was washed away when he eventually filed, and most of the payments were rolled forward to cover potential taxes in future years.”

As one social media user picked up in a BizPac Review piece on Monday put it:

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To repeat: Trump “made the required payment to the I.R.S. for income taxes he might owe,” The Times wrote, followed by the figures $1 million for one year, $4.2 million for the second. (Emphasis in the quote added, obviously.)

In other words, Trump did in fact pay considerably more than $750 in taxes in 2016 and 2017 — he just didn’t actually owe what he paid.

In fact, an argument could be made that since those payments actually amounted to overpayments, when Trump’s final liability was established at the laughably low figure of $750, the whole incident redounds to the president’s favor. Since the money wasn’t returned, but “rolled forward to cover potential taxes for future years,” Trump was, in effect, giving the federal government about $5 million until some future date.

The rest of the article amounts to a propaganda gift to the presidential campaign of Democratic nominee Joe Biden, typical of The Times anti-Trump machine.

It’s paragraph after biased paragraphed, stuffed with dollar signs and financial details that make it appear there are all kinds of sordid maneuverings going on, but probably describes the kind of totally legal tax minimization strategies employed by the wealthiest Americans regardless of party.

Is it any wonder that on Sunday, Trump used a White House media briefing to pan The Times piece as “totally false“?

It’s important to note that the word “illegal” is not one of the almost-10,000 words The Times unleashed to attack the president on the eve of the first Trump-Biden debate. (It did use the word “illegality,” but only quoting a New York state regulator – no doubt a Democrat – and discussing activities of the Trump Foundation, not the president’s taxes.) Think there’s a reason for that?

It’s just as important to note that any businessman or woman in the United States, from a mom-and-pop diner to the titans of industry, will take every step possible to minimize their payments to the IRS.

Every year, the country’s law schools churn out countless attorneys who specialize in the tax code because it’s an area of law that’s in constant demand – particularly among the uber-wealthy, like Trump, who employ legions of accounting and legal minds to make sure their taxes are as low as possible.

The final bill, as The Times’ own story demonstrates, is up to the IRS, the individual and the lawyers and accountants involved — it’s not The New York Times editorial board or the empty-headed firebrands at MSNBC who get to determine how much Donald Trump owes in taxes.

The IRS doesn’t consult journalists to decide how much New York Times Co. Chairman Arthur Sulzberger Jr. must pay in taxes, or Washington Post owner Jeff Bezos needs to kick in to Uncle Sam.

But journalists do get to decide how to frame a story, and that decision is a matter of the public trust – one journalists should have the personal and professional integrity to honor.

When a news outlet like The Times chooses to use a mammoth “news” story to attack the president of the United States in the weeks before an election, and it uses a barely credible distortion of reality in the opening sentences of its piece, then forces the reader to wade through reams innuendo to get to the actual fact, it violates that trust.

It’s nothing new to the biased Times, of course – the paper has been on a vendetta against Trump since he first came down the escalator at Trump Tower to announce for the presidency in 2015.

But it’s as damning as ever to the state of journalism as practiced in the 21st century.

The biased mainstream media has buried the facts about Trump and his presidency for so long, they’ve buried their own credibility long since.

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Joe has spent more than 30 years as a reporter, copy editor and metro desk editor in newsrooms in Pennsylvania, West Virginia and Florida. He's been with Liftable Media since 2015.
Joe has spent more than 30 years as a reporter, copy editor and metro editor in newsrooms in Pennsylvania, West Virginia and Florida. He's been with Liftable Media since 2015. Largely a product of Catholic schools, who discovered Ayn Rand in college, Joe is a lifelong newspaperman who learned enough about the trade to be skeptical of every word ever written. He was also lucky enough to have a job that didn't need a printing press to do it.