Sep 29, 2020 - Politics & Policy

NYT's Trump tax returns exposé explodes on social media

Data: NewsWhip; Chart: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios
Data: NewsWhip; Chart: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios

The New York Times' bombshell tax investigation has become one of the most viral investigative news stories on social media during the Trump era, according to data from NewsWhip.

Why it matters: The years-long anticipation of the release of President Trump's tax returns has hit a nerve among Americans, many of whom have been waiting to see whether the returns reinforce rumors of the president's flimsy financial record.

Driving the news: Social media interactions (likes, comments, shares) from within the first 24 hours of Sunday's tax returns article dwarfs the total for the other investigative pieces listed.

  • Only the Times' previous piece about Trump's tax information eclipsed 1 million interactions.
  • Social media interactions on news articles overall have spiked in 2020, according to NewsWhip.

Yes, but: Other story genres — particularly breaking news — routinely perform better on social media than investigations, which are often difficult to distill in a headline. The biggest article overall was news of Ruth Bader Ginsburg's death from NPR with 10.7 million interactions.

Bottom line: There have been so many groundbreaking investigations over the past few years that it's hard for any one storyline to stick, but the data from NewsWhip shows that no others have had the internet firepower as the tax bombshell.

What's next: The Times' investigation — which Trump has called "fake news" — comes ahead of the first debate between the president and Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden on Tuesday.

Go deeper: Key findings from NYT report on Trump's taxes

Go deeper