Yesterday MSNBC host Rachel Maddow made the world believe she had something huge on her hands. Like PT Barnum, she built up the news in the fashion of a true showman [er... I mean, show-woman]. She told everyone she was gonna get Trump once and for all. Take that, Republicans!
And then finally the big reveal came: Rachel Maddow had Trump's tax returns from 2005. Yep... And the big news? Well, it was... Pretty predictable. No scams, no broken laws. Just $38 million in paid taxes. It was quite the disappointment if you dislike Trump and actually believed she had something interesting to share... But she didn't.
The whole thing reminded many of us of everyone's favorite moderate cable-TV news Hispanic, Geraldo Rivera.
Back in 1986 Geraldo had a TV special called The Mystery of Al Capone's Vaults. It was a 2-hour special centered on the opening of a secret vault in the Lexington Hotel once owned by mob boss Al Capone. The show was hyped as potentially revealing riches or dead bodies on live television. Whoa! This included the presence of a medical examiner should bodies be found and agents from the Internal Revenue Service to collect any of Capone's money that might be discovered. Hot dang, this is gonna be good, Right?
When the vault was finally opened, the only things found inside was dirt and some empty bottles [which Rivera claimed were for moonshine bathtub gin]. After several attempts to dig further into the vault, Geraldo admitted defeat and voiced his disappointment to the viewers, apologizing as he thanked the excavation team for their efforts.
Despite the lackluster ending, the special became the most-watched syndicated television special at the time with an estimated audience of 30 million.
And the incident was mocked by pop culture for many years to come. The special was spoofed in "It Ain't Over Till It's Over," an episode of Hill Street Blues. A scene from the 1997 movie Titanic references the debacle. Treasure hunter Brock Lovett (played by Bill Paxton), who is searching for a priceless diamond necklace lost during the sinking of RMS Titanic, recovers a safe from the wreck and opens it in front of several TV cameras. Much to his disappointment, he discovers that the safe contains nothing but mud and a seemingly worthless sketchbook, prompting one of his crewmen to say, "You know, boss, the same thing happened to Geraldo, and his career never recovered."
In a 1993 episode of The Simpsons, Homer's Barbershop Quartet featured the song lyric, "There was nothing in Al Capone's vault, but it wasn't Geraldo's fault."
In an episode of The Goldbergs [a sitcom on ABC] Murray and Pops watch in suspense waiting for the opening of the vault... Ouch.
Then last year Geraldo said on the Fox News Channel that he went right across the street and got "Tequila drunk" after the special aired, then went back to his hotel room and put the "Do Not Disturb" sign on the door.
Will pop culture spoof Rachel Maddow's Trump tax return episode? One can only hope.