Andrew Sullivan: ‘Giant cloud of smug’ above Maddow during Trump tax story

MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow was harshly criticized Friday night by HBO’s Bill Maher and columnist Andrew Sullivan for her release of President TrumpDonald John TrumpTeachers union launches 0K ad buy calling for education funding in relief bill FDA head pledges 'we will not cut corners' on coronavirus vaccine Let our values drive COVID-19 liability protection MORE’s 2005 tax returns.
On Maher’s show “Real Time,” the host called Maddow’s show “worse than a nothingburger” and Sullivan added there was a “giant cloud of smug” as Maddow touted her scoop.
“This was worse than a nothingburger,” Maher said. “It was a help-Trump-burger.” 
The 2005 tax returns showed Trump had paid $38 million that year on $150 million in earnings, for an effective tax rate of 24 percent. 
"It was probably the best tax return he’s ever filed, which makes me think this came from Donald Trump," Maher said without evidence. 
“If we’re going to win this, we can’t get played. This was getting played.”
"There was a giant cloud of smug above Rachel Maddow when she was doing that,” Sullivan added.
“Liberals have to be careful not to sound so f--king condescending, smug, as if they know it. And start actually engaging the other side and pursuing people.”
Former Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.), also on the panel, immediately pushed back at Sullivan. 
"I think you might want to teach by example on that," Frank advised. 
Despite being widely criticized from the left and right for her revelation of the tax returns, Maddow still enjoyed the highest ratings in the history of her program on Tuesday after hyping on Twitter she was in possession of "Trump's tax returns" about 90 minutes before the show aired. 
Tuesday's episode of "The Rachel Maddow Show" that eventually revealed President Trump's 2005 Form 1040 registered 4.1 total million viewers and 1.4 million the key 25-54 demographic advertisers covet most, according to Nielsen data. 
Maddow pushed back at critics who argued she overhyped the information taken to her by Daily Beast writer David Cay Johnston. 
"Because I have information about the president doesn't mean that it's necessarily a scandal," she said. "It doesn't mean that it's damning information. If other people leapt to that conclusion without me indicating that it was, that hype is external to what we did."