On Tuesday, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist David Cay Johnston broke news about President Donald Trump's long-hidden taxes. Appearing on MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show, Johnston revealed the first two pages of Trump's 2005 federal income tax return. The document was also uploaded to DCReport.org, the news site Johnston founded.
DCReport.org is a nonprofit news organization that bills itself as a "new kind of a news operation for the Trump era." According to its website, DCReport.org will not accept advertisement and will operate on donations from readers.
The mission statement stresses that DCReport.org is citizen-centered and emphasizes reporting that "meticulously scours the public record to report what’s really going on inside your congressional committee rooms, your executive branch departments, your regulatory agencies and, yes, your White House."
Johnston is a seasoned and esteemed journalist. In addition to winning the Pulitzer Prize in 2001 for beat reporting for his work at the New York Times that "exposed loopholes and inequities in the U.S. tax code" as the award committee noted, Johnston has written six books, including The Making Of Donald Trump.
According to its website, DCReport.org also boasts an impressive board of directors: Jonathan Alter, a best-selling author and former long-time columnist for Newsweek; Bruce Bartlett, who served as an aide to Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush; and Cheryl Phillips, a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist who serves as Stanford's Lorry I. Lokey Visiting Professor in Professional Journalism.
DCReport.org has had a relatively low mainstream media profile until it broke the story on Trump's 2005 taxes. At the time of writing, it had just over 10,000 followers on Twitter and 6,000 some odd likes on Facebook. However, with #TrumpTaxReturn and #TrumpsTaxes trending on Twitter, the DCReport.org exclusive could be a boon for Johnston's news organization.
The White House was quick to criticize the report and to take a swipe at MSNBC. "You know you are desperate for ratings when you are willing to violate the law to push a story about two pages of tax returns from over a decade ago," an official said in a White House statement. The White House did confirm, though, that Johnston's report that Trump paid $38 million in taxes on more than $150 million income was accurate.
Speaking to Maddow, Johnston said that the tax documents were sent to him and "that it’s entirely possible that Donald sent this to me. Donald Trump has over the year leaked all sorts of things.”
Throughout his campaign and into his presidency, Trump has been dogged by questions about his taxes, and he is the first president since Nixon not to disclose his income tax returns.