Even CNN's Erin Burnett, a former Goldman Sachs financial analyst, says it's time for Mitt Romney to release his tax returns.
Burnett opened her Monday night show with a personal message to the presumptive Republican presidential nominee.
"It's time, Mitt, time to put them on the table," she said, dismissing Romney's argument that both Sen. John Kerry's (D-MA) wife and Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) released few or no tax returns when they ran for president.
"It is not his wife's money," Burnett explained. "And unlike John McCain, Romney's career has been in business, not politics. Mitt Romney is running on his business expertise. His tax returns are a relevant window in to his he conducts his business affairs."
"If he refuses to release them, it is because one, he had a lot more money in tax shelters in prior years than he does how. Two, he did something shady. Or, three, he's stupid."
The CNN host concluded that the former Massachusetts governor was not stupid and the IRS would know if he did something illegal -- so, it must be that he "took advantage of every loophole known to man."
Burnett offered Romney a script for when he finally releases the tax returns that show he paid significantly lower than the 13.9 percent effective rate that his 2010 returns indicated:
My tax rates were too low. I don't believe that passively invested money should be taxed lower than income other people earn by working.
I benefited from low rates on investment. That's not great policy and I'm going to change it. On day one. ... I will end the carried interest loophole that personally saved me tens of millions of dollars at least.
But in the end, the former CNBC reporter excused Romney's low rate because he apparently also gave generously to the Mormon church.
"It's not like he sat there and hoarded the money he didn't pay to Uncle Sam. He gave enough away to make his rate well above 31 percent," she insisted. "Greater than the 30 percent that President Barack Obama says should be the minimum rate for wealthy Americans."
"So if you look at it that way, Mitt's taxes seem to add up just fine."
Burnett drew criticism last year after she mocked Occupy Wall Street protesters with a segment titled "Seriously?"
"Two of the fundamental attributes of good journalism are curiosity and a respect for the people on whom you report. Burnett got an 'F' on both those counts with her Occupy Wall Street piece," The Baltimore Sun's David Zurawik wrote at the time. "Not only didn't she listen hard enough to learn anything from the people in the group, she and her producers positioned the speakers to be seen as objects of derision. That is deplorable."
Salon's Glenn Greenwald also blasted Burnett for "her perpetual defense of the nation’s oligarchs."
"Would it ever occur to CNN that perhaps a former Wall Street banker at Goldman Sachs, currently engaged to a Citigroup executive, might not be the best person to cover those protests?" he asked. "Of course not: that’s exactly the bias that makes her such an appropriate choice in the eyes of her Time Warner bosses."
Watch this video from CNN's OutFront, broadcast July 16, 2012.
(h/t: The Huffington Post)