Jared Kushner Almost Bought the National Enquirer Three Years AgoBy and
Tabloid newspaper bandied about in Trump’s MSNBC Twitter war
White House offered to help spike story, MSNBC hosts say
The National Enquirer’s ties to President Donald Trump and his family are so close that his son-in-law Jared Kushner almost bought it three years ago.
What began as talk show criticisms of the president and erupted into a Twitter war between Trump and two TV hosts escalated Friday to include a claim that White House officials offered to help spike a negative story about them in the tabloid. All MSNBC’s Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski would have to do is apologize to the president.
Kushner, according to New York Magazine and other publications citing unidentified sources, was one of those White House messengers. Kushner’s relationship with the Enquirer dates back to his pre-election career as a real estate developer and publisher of the New York Observer, then a weekly newspaper.
Three years ago, Kushner and his brother-in-law, Joe Meyer, tried with Enquirer publisher David Pecker to buy the tabloid’s owner, American Media Inc., people familiar with that bid said. The deal ultimately fell through because of weak advertising revenue at the time, said the people, who asked not to be identified because the matter was private.
During last year’s campaign, the Enquirer, more typically associated with stories on badly behaving celebrities and reports of extraterrestrials, endorsed Trump and headlined alleged scandals in attacks on his opponents. Trump’s praise for the Enquirer -- saying at one point that it deserved journalism’s Pulitzer Prize -- was frequent and he welcomed Pecker’s support.
American Media said it had no role in any White House discussions involving Scarborough and Brzezinski and said separately, regarding Kusher’s earlier bid for the company, that it doesn’t comment on rumors and speculation.
The latest skirmish began Thursday when Trump said the MSNBC hosts tried to join him at his Mar-a-Lago resort last winter while Brzezinski “was bleeding badly from a face-lift.” Debates over the president’s aggressive response to critics and attitudes toward women have dominated cable news channels since then.
In a commentary in the Washington Post Friday, Scarborough and Brzezinski said top White House staff members warned them that the Enquirer was planning to publish a negative article about them “unless we begged the president to have the story spiked. We ignored their desperate pleas.”
Trump tweeted in response that Scarborough had “called me to stop a National Enquirer article. I said no!” Scarborough responded via Twitter, calling the president’s claim a lie.
The Enquirer story published in June involved the personal lives of Scarborough and Brzezinski, who are engaged to be married.
Representatives for Kushner declined to comment. Kushner, who married to Trump’s daughter Ivanka in 2009, serves with her in the White House as two of the president’s most trusted assistants.
“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,” Dylan Howard, American Media’s chief content officer, said in a statement. “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 also has a history with the Enquirer. He’s written first-person essays for the outlet, which held its 90th birthday party at his SoHo hotel in New York.
During the 2016 campaign, Trump trumpeted the Enquirer’s claim that the father of one of his political rivals, Senator Ted Cruz, had been photographed with John F. Kennedy assassin Lee Harvey Oswald -- a claim Cruz denied and the nonpartisan fact-checker PolitiFact rated a “pants on fire” inaccuracy.
— With assistance by Shannon Pettypiece, David Carey, Devin Banerjee, Elizabeth Titus, and Arit John