On Friday, Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski, hosts of MSNBC’s Morning Joe, said that President Trump’s White House aides threatened them with a possible hit piece in the National Enquirer unless the two apologized to the president for the bad press. In other words, they tried to blackmail them.
The revelation came a day after the president trolled the two on Twitter apparently in response to their making fun of the fake TIME cover currently on display in at least four of Trump’s golf clubs.
The fake cover features an image of Trump along with a headline calling his reality TV show The Apprentice, a “smash.”
“We got a call that… ‘Hey, the National Enquirer is going to run a negative story against you guys…’ And they said, ‘If you call the president up, and you apologize for your coverage, then he will pick up the phone and basically spike this story,” Scarborough said Friday morning, adding that the calls came from “three people at the very top of the administration.”
The publisher of the National Enquirer, David Pecker, is a good friend and ally of President Trump, and the tabloid, as Jeffrey Toobin explains in the current New Yorker, has “embraced the President with… sycophantic zeal.”
“This year, top White House staff members warned that the National Enquirer was planning to publish a negative article about us unless we begged the president to have the story spiked. We ignored their desperate pleas,” Scarborough and Brzezinski said in The Post.
The negative story White House aides were alluding to, of course, was about the co-hosts’ then-secret relationship, and was ultimately published by the Enquirer in early June. Brzezinski went on to explain just how intrusive and harassing their efforts were.
“They were calling my children. They were calling close friends.”
These calls “persisted for quite some time,” Brzezinski added, all while Scarborough was getting repeated calls from White House aides begging him to make nice with Trump so that they could make the story “go away.”
“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,” the Enquirer’s chief content officer, Dylan Howard, said in a brief statement on Friday.
In a column in The Washington Post on Friday, Scarborough and Brzezinski denied the President’s laughable claims about their visits to Mar-a-Lago and Brzezinski’s facelift while voicing their more serious concerns about Trump’s mental health and fitness for office:
The president, of course, denied everything.
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
Today, Scarborough, however, had the last tweet:
Yet another lie. I have texts from your top aides and phone records. Also, those records show I haven't spoken with you in many months. https://t.co/TZWiElo6Gs
— Joe Scarborough (@JoeNBC) June 30, 2017