If Donald Trump really used the National Enquirer to blackmail the co-hosts of MSNBC’s “Morning Joe,” it would be the most flagrant example of the publication doing the president’s dirty work. But it wouldn’t be the only one.
Both Trump and the Enquirer have denied Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski’s contention that the White House threatened them with a negative article if they didn’t personally apologize to the president for critical coverage. The Enquirer ran a story about the couple’s “sleazy cheating scandal” on June 2 — although they are engaged to marry — and said the White House had nothing to do with it.
With the mainstream media increasingly willing to call out Trump on his lies, media watchdogs believe he has turned to courting gossip news outlets to rewrite narratives, plant attacks and promote propaganda. TMZ, for example, has been criticized for pushing favorable Trump coverage, a move which makes some of the site’s own staffers “uncomfortable.”
But no outlet has embraced Trump like the Enquirer. Trump is friends with the Enquirer‘s chief executive, David Pecker, and has endorsed the publication during his speeches. The Enquirer predicted a Trump presidency long before any mainstream news organization, declaring in February 2015, four months before Donald Trump announced his bid for the White House: “NEW POLL: DONALD TRUMP’S THE ONE!”
As TheWrap reported in March, the tabloid subsequently became Trump’s cheerleader-in-chief while churning out hit pieces on his rivals. Supermarket check-out aisles framed “exclusives” claiming Jeb Bush used to do coke; Hillary Clinton had multiple sclerosis and suffered a series of strokes; Ben Carson botched his surgeries; and Ted Cruz had five mistresses.
Trump conspicuously escaped the Enquirer’s digs. When it finally delivered an “investigation” into Trump’s “secret psychological evaluations,” it revealed that he had — surprise! — “the mind to be a great president.”
A March cover story explained how Trump is “CLEANING UP OBAMA’S MESS!” The bullet points included:
* “Making medicine cheap again!”
* “25 million new high paying jobs!”
* “$3 trillion economic jump-start!”
Even though Trump reluctantly admitted in September that President Obama is a U.S. citizen, the Enquirer was still peddling the so-called “birther” conspiracy theory as recently as March 10. And three days after then-FBI Director James Comey stated unequivocally that “the FBI and the Justice Department have no information to support” Trump’s assertions that Obama tapped his Trump Tower phones, the Enquirer insisted it had “Proof Barack Obama Wiretapped Trump!”
In the days leading up to the election, the Wall Street Journal reported that the Enquirer paid a former Playboy model $150,000 for her story about an alleged affair she had with Trump — only to kill it.
Editor in chief Dylan Howard previously told TheWrap that the Enquirer is “extraordinarily proud of our investigative political reporting and the legion of new readers that have turned to us since we entered the fray as a national political voice.”
Scarborough and Brzezinski wrote an opinion piece in the Washington Post on Friday titled, “Donald Trump is not well,” in response to the president’s recent Twitter attacks on the pair. They said White House staffers threatened them and said they would have to beg Trump to spike a story in the National Enquirer.
The Enquirer responded: “At the beginning of June, we accurately reported a story that recounted the relationship between Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski, the truth of which is not in dispute. At no time did we threaten either Joe or Mika or their children in connection with our reporting on the story. We have no knowledge of any discussions between the White House and Joe and Mika about our story, and absolutely no involvement in those discussions.”
Trump offered his own account, saying that he didn’t try to get Scarborough to beg him to stop the Enquirer story — because Scarborough reached out to him on his own.
Watched low rated @Morning_Joe for first time in long time. FAKE NEWS. He called me to stop a National Enquirer article. I said no! Bad show
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 30, 2017