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Tag: national enquirer

National Enquirer Publisher Fined For Helping Trump Campaign Hide Ex-Mistress

The publisher of the National Enquirer has been fined $187,500 by the Federal Election Commission for payments the tabloid made to hide a story about former President Donald Trump's ex-mistress. The payments were made to former Playboy model Karen McDougal, to buy and then not publish her story, in a “catch and kill" process built to benefit the Trump campaign. The New York Post, reported: “The fine was handed down on May 17, 2021, according to Common Cause, a public advocacy group that sought information on the penalties, which released information on the deal between the FEC and A360 Media on Tue...

Danziger: He’s Very Bad News

Jeff Danziger lives in New York City. He is represented by CWS Syndicate and the Washington Post Writers Group. He is the recipient of the Herblock Prize and the Thomas Nast (Landau) Prize. He served in the US Army in Vietnam and was awarded the Bronze Star and the Air Medal. He has published eleven books of cartoons and one novel. Visit him at DanzigerCartoons.com.

Report: Prosecutors Probing Alleged National Enquirer Blackmail

Reprinted with permission from Alternet.

Federal prosecutors in the Southern District of New York are reviewing the conduct of the National Enquirer and its parent company, American Media, Inc., after Amazon founder Jeff Bezos alleged Thursday that the tabloid attempted to blackmail and extort him by threatening to publish his nude selfies, according to Bloomberg News.

The Associated Press has also confirmed Bloomberg’s report.

Bezos said that a lawyer for AMI had formally demanded that he publicly denounce the suggestion that the National Enquirer’s recent coverage of his extramarital affair was driven by political motivation, perhaps because of coverage from the Washington Post, which Bezos owns, about the Trump administration or Saudi Arabia.

AMI and its CEO David Pecker have entered into a non-prosecution deal for their role in the campaign finance crimes carried out by Michael Cohen, President Donald Trump’s former lawyer. Cohen pleaded guilty to the crimes and said in court that Trump himself had directed him to arrange criminal hush money payments.  Trump has a long history of a mutually beneficial relationship with AMI and Pecker.

It’s not clear whether AMI’s reported blackmail attempt of Bezos would violate the law, but if it did, it could nullify the non-prosecution agreement with SDNY and open up the company and Pecker to potential criminal charges.

 

 

Danziger: A Prick By Any Other Name

Jeff Danziger lives in New York City. He is represented by CWS Syndicate and the Washington Post Writers Group. He is the recipient of the Herblock Prize and the Thomas Nast (Landau) Prize. He served in the US Army in Vietnam and was awarded the Bronze Star and the Air Medal. He has published eleven books of cartoons and one novel. Visit him at DanzigerCartoons.com.

Trump’s Tabloid Pals At National Enquirer Attacking Michael Cohen

Trump’s allies at the National Enquirer tabloid are now doing his dirty work for him. The publication has trained its sights on Michael Cohen, Trump’s personal lawyer and fixer.

The latest issue of the Enquirer highlights Cohen under the heading “PAYOFFS & THREATS EXPOSED.” The magazine promises readers that it will reveal “TRUMP FIXER’S SECRETS & LIES!”

The story comes as a federal judge indicated an indictment is likely in the cards for Cohen, resulting from the recent FBI raid on his home and office.

View image on Twitter

Cohen has spent years in service to Trump, most recently paying off porn star Stormy Daniels days before the 2016 election to hide her affair with Trump.

But now, Trump appears to be pushing him away.

Appearing on Fox, Trump said Cohen was only responsible for “a tiny, tiny little fraction” of his legal work.

That statement came days after Trump pardoned George W. Bush era criminal Scooter Libby. The legal move sent a signal to the Trump lieutenants currently under legal threats from special counsel Robert Mueller.

The owners of the Enquirer, American Media, Inc. (AMI), are close Trump friends, particularly CEO David Pecker. As the tabloid loses money, it has been one of the loudest media voices promoting Trump and attacking his enemies.

They even went after Malia Obama.

AMI is tied to Cohen, as well. Communications between Cohen and top AMI executives, including Pecker, were part of the subpoena used for the FBI raid on Cohen’s properties.

While Cohen was paying off Daniels, AMI was reportedly buying the silence of others who had embarrassing stories about Trump.

Model Karen McDougal was paid $150,000 by the Enquirer for the rights to the story of her affair with Trump. The publication also paid former Trump World Tower doorman Dino Sajudin for a story about Trump’s affair with a housekeeper.

Yet the magazine never published either story, as part of a practice called “catch and kill.”

Now Trump’s cheerleaders at the Enquirer are targeting another figure with information that could potentially damage him.

But the two men have such close ties that the campaign seems doomed to fail. Cohen has made dozens of Trump-related cable news appearances. Further, he helped lay the groundwork for his presidential run.

But it is notable that the Enquirer is giving it a try anyway. For Trump’s sake.

MSNBC Hosts Accuse Trump, Staffers In National Enquirer Coercion Scheme

Reprinted with permission from Media Matters.

MSNBC hosts Mika Brzezinski and Joe Scarborough described President Donald Trump’s “unmoored behavior” in a Washington Post column where they alleged that “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.” Brzezinski and Scarborough wrote they ignored the “desperate pleas” from the White House.

The Enquirer, which endorsed Trump during the presidential election, frequently smeared his opponents during the presidential campaign with anonymously sourced stories and disreputable claims from Trump confidant Roger Stone.

The Washington Post column came in response to personal attacks made against the duo by Trump, who wrote yesterday on Twitter: “I heard poorly rated @Morning_Joe speaks badly of me (don’t watch anymore). Then how come low I.Q. Crazy Mika, along with Psycho Joe, came..” “…to Mar-a-Lago 3 nights in a row around New Year’s Eve, and insisted on joining me. She was bleeding badly from a face-lift. I said no!”

Scarborough discussed the Enquirer incident on the June 30 broadcast of Morning Joe, describing a bizarre blackmail scheme orchestrated by Trump and senior White House officials: “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. I had, I will just say, three people at the very top of the administration calling me, and the response was like, I was like, ‘Are you kidding me?’” Brzezinski said the calls occurred during the same time period when the Enquirer was harassing her teenage children.

MSNBC Morning Joe co-hosts Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski responded to President Trumps Twitter attack on their show and in an op-ed in the Washington Post. Brzezinski said, I think its been fascinating and frightening and really sad for our country. The co-hosts also revealed that top White House staffers told them that the National Enquirer was going to run a negative article about them unless they begged Trump to quash it. In the Washington Post op-ed, the co-hosts wrote, We ignored their desperate pleas. On Twitter, Trump responded by calling their account FAKE NEWS.

Trump reacted to the Enquirer allegation on Twitter, calling it “FAKE NEWS” and claiming Scarborough called him in an attempt to stop a story from running. Scarborough responded by writing, “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.”

In March 2016, the Post reported that Trump has a “very cozy relationship” with the Enquirer and quoted the New York Daily News’ comment that he is “very close” to the tabloid’s chief executive, David Pecker. A business associate of Pecker told The New Yorker that Pecker had said “very bluntly that he had killed all sorts of stories for Trump,” and Pecker himself acknowledged that he views potential stories “bashing Trump” as “bashing American Media” — the Enquirer‘s parent company — because Trump is “a personal friend.” The profile also reported that Trump has personally provided Pecker with stories.

Scarborough referenced the friendship between Trump and Pecker on Morning Joe, saying, “What makes it even worse for them is Donald Trump called me during the campaign and bragged about his friend who ran the National Enquirer. He would always say, ‘Have you seen the Ben Carson story? Have you seen the Ben Carson story? Have you seen that story in the Enquirer?’ And then he would talk about it.”

Scarborough added, “There were all these stories that were planted in the National Enquirer for people that Donald Trump wanted to attack and then he would talk about on the campaign trail.”

In one infamous case, the Enquirer published a baseless cover story alleging that the father of Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) was involved in the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. Trump subsequently promoted the bogus story about his then-primary opponent during a Fox News appearance where he said, “I mean, what was he doing — what was he doing with Lee Harvey Oswald shortly before the death? Before the shooting?” He also complained that not enough people were reporting on the conspiracy theory.

Under fire for advancing the baseless claim, Trump responded by defending the Enquirer’s reputation, saying, “This was a magazine that frankly, in many respects, should be very respected.”

Pecker is reportedly considering a bid to take over Time Inc., which owns Time magazine, Fortune, and other media properties. The move would surely please Trump, who in 2013 repeatedly used social media to boost the idea that Pecker should run the company.

New York magazine’s Gabriel Sherman reports that according to “three sources familiar with the private conversations,” Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner was in contact with Scarborough about a then-upcoming Enquirer story about Scarborough’s not-yet-public relationship with Brzezinski. Kushner reportedly “told Scarborough that he would need to personally apologize to Trump in exchange for getting National Enquirer owner David Pecker to stop the story”:

According to three sources familiar with the private conversations, what happened was this: After the inauguration, Morning Joe’s coverage of Trump turned sharply negative. “This presidency is fake and failed,” Brzezinski said on March 6, for example. Around this time, Scarborough and Brzezinski found out the Enquirer was preparing a story about their affair. While Scarborough and Brzezinski’s relationship had been gossiped about in media circles for some time, it was not yet public, and the tabloid was going to report that they had left their spouses to be together.

In mid-April, Scarborough texted with Trump son-in-law Jared Kushner about the pending Enquirer story. Kushner told Scarborough that he would need to personally apologize to Trump in exchange for getting Enquirer owner David Pecker to stop the story. (A spokesperson for Kushner declined to comment). Scarborough says he refused, and the Enquirer published the story in print on June 5, headlined “Morning Joe Sleazy Cheating Scandal!”

 

The Media Outlets Poised To Become Trump’s Personal Propaganda Machine

Reprinted with permission from Media Matters for America.

After the 2016 presidential election, President-elect Donald Trump is coalescing a network of supportive right-wing media outlets, including an online publication owned by his son-in-law, a supermarket tabloid, and a new 24-hour news outlet that has been described as “Trump TV.” Since the primaries, these right-wing media outlets have helped push Trump’s agenda and have attacked his political opponents.

The New York Observer 

CONNECTION: OWNED BY JARED KUSHNER, TRUMP’S SON-IN-LAW

The Observer is a news site owned by Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner. Under Kushner’s leadership the Observer has been an unabashed pro-Trump megaphone. The paper was one of only three national papers to endorse him during the primary election. The outlet’s close relationship with Trump forced their national political reporter, Ross Barkan, to resign because he felt “a line had been crossed” with both the endorsement and their editor-in-chief’s secret involvement with the campaign.

Since Trump’s victory, the Observer has moved toward becoming a propaganda outlet for the incoming administration. On December 2, the Observer published an op-ed from University of Texas-Austin adjunct professor Austin Bay calling for the FBI to conduct a “detailed investigation” into the “political thuggery” of anti-Trump protests after the election.

The Observer also recently argued for the release of Julian Assange. Assange’s organization, WikiLeaks, released — with the probable assistance of the Russian government — wave after wave of mundane emails stolen from Democratic politicians and operatives, which were endlessly spun by right-wing media into increasingly bizarre, and dangerous misinformation.

Right Side Broadcasting Network

CONNECTION: HELPED TRUMP WITH PRE- AND POST-DEBATE SPIN; CEO SAID “TRUMP BUILT RSBN”

Right Side Broadcasting Network (RSBN) is a relatively new “news” network that announced on December 6 that it would “become a 24-hour network very soon” and it would be “in the White House” and “at the press briefings” during the Trump presidency. According to Foreign Policy magazine, there are several steps a news outlet must go through to get White House press credentials, but the president can evade those by simply inviting the outlet to attend and allowing them to ask friendly questions, as President George W. Bush allowed a conservative reporter to do during his administration.

RSBN developed such a close relationship with Trump during the primary and general elections that The Washington Post’s Callum Borchers has described them as “the unofficial version of Trump TV” since last summer. Borchers reported that the Trump campaign had “teamed up with Right Side to produce pre- and post-debate analysis shows that streamed on Trump’s Facebook Page.” Right Side Broadcasting CEO Joe Seales hosted an “ask me anything” session on Reddit in which he told pro-Trump redditors that “Trump built RSBN” and they should “continue to discredit” mainstream media and instead tune into “media outlets like us and the other conservative sources like Breitbart.

The National Enquirer

CONNECTION: OWNED BY DAVID PECKER, TRUMP’S LONG-TIME FRIEND

The National Enquirer is owned by David Pecker, Trump’s close friend, and was, along with his son-in-law’s paper and Rupert Murdoch’s New York Post, the only other national outlet to endorse Trump. New Yorkmagazine’s Gabriel Sherman reported that while Trump’s “scandal-filled personal life would be yuge! for the supermarket tabloid,” he has been “exclusively celebrated in the Enquirer’s pages.” Trump himself has even written op-eds exclusively for the Enquirer, where he explained “I am the only one who can make America great again!”

The National Enquirer also undertook a strange and savage campaign against Trump’s electoral opponents. With thin sourcing, often only from noted liar/Trump supporter Roger Stone, the Enquirer alleged that Jeb Bush celebrated his father’s presidential win with a cocaine binge, that Hillary and Chelsea Clinton “covered up Bill’s cocaine rehab,” and that Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) had affairs with multiple women. Their most outrageous pro-Trump lie was that Cruz’s father was somehow involved in the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. The Enquirer made this claim based on one blurry photograph, but that did not stop Trump from touring cable news shows to hype the absurd smear.

Breitbart News

CONNECTION: OPERATED BY TRUMP’S CHIEF STRATEGIST, STEVE BANNON, WHO DESCRIBED THE SITE AS THE “PLATFORM FOR THE ALT-RIGHT,” WHICH INCLUDES WHITE SUPREMACY

Breitbart.com was founded by Andrew Breitbart along with Trump’s current chief strategist, Stephen K. Bannon, who in 2014 described Breitbart as the “platform for the alt-right,” a term commonly used to describe people who embrace white nationalism, misogyny, and anti-Semitism. Breitbart News is infamous for headlines like “Bill Kristol: Republican Spoiler, Renegade Jew,” “Young Muslims In The West Are A Ticking Time Bomb,” and “After The Pulse Club Massacre, It’s Time For Gays To Come Home To The Republican Party.” Breitbart even undertook campaigns of online harassment directed at Facebook’s trending news team for their perceived “bias;” these campaigns were directed by Milo Yiannopoulos, who was permanently banned from Twitter for leading a harassment campaign against Saturday Night Live and Ghostbusters actress Leslie Jones.

During the 2016 election, reporters and even former Breitbart employees repeatedly criticized the site for attempting a “rebranding of white supremacy … through Trump.” Former Breitbart writer Ben Shapiro accused the site of embracing “a movement shot through with racism and anti-Semitism,” and his former colleague Kurt Bardella similarly labeled Bannon a “dangerous” and “combative” “pathological liar.” Bardella resigned from Breitbart on March 11 when Trump’s then-campaign manager, Corey Lewandowski, grabbed Breitbart reporter Michelle Fields at a Trump event. Rather than defending their Fields, a Breitbart employee hurriedly worked to “make sure that [the incident] doesn’t turn into a big story.”

Infowars And The Alex Jones Show

CONNECTION: TOP TRUMP ADVISER ROGER STONE IS A FREQUENT JONES/INFOWARS COLLABORATOR AND TRUMP APPEARED ON JONES’ PROGRAM AND PRAISED HIM

Conspiracy theorist Alex Jones is the host of The Alex Jones Show and heads Infowars, which distributes right-wing content through its website and social platforms like YouTube and Facebook. Jones and his website have pushed false stories and fringe conspiracy theories, including that the government perpetrated the 9/11 attacks and the tragedies at Columbine, Oklahoma City, Sandy Hook, and the Boston Marathon, among others.

Jones and Infowars were a leading source of false stories and conspiracy theories about Clinton in 2016. They pushed false claims about Clinton’s health, the “pizzagate” conspiracy, and supposed pro-Clinton voting fraud, among many others. Several of these stories were subsequently highlighted by Trump on the campaign trail.

Longtime Trump adviser Roger Stone serves as the president-elect’s messenger to Jones’ audience. Stone has been one of Jones’ most frequent guests, helped organize a pro-Trump event with Jones, and is also an Infowars guest host. Trump mainstreamed Jones’ program by appearing on it in December 2015 and telling him: “Your reputation’s amazing. I will not let you down.” Trump has repeatedly echoed Jones’ rhetoric and heand his campaign tweeted links to Infowars.com.

Trump suggested his relationship with Jones will continue: Jones said the president-elect called him after the election to thank his audience and promise he would return to the program. And Stone said Jones will be a “valuable asset” for “President Trump’s legislative program.”

Three Publications (Total!) Have Endorsed Donald Trump

Donald Trump has been endorsed for president by a total of three major publications: The National Enquirer, The New York Observerand The New York Post.

The endorsements might have been a shock to the media world, but they weren’t terribly surprising: the Post, the latest paper to endorse the real estate mogul turned racist politician, has been a propagator of racist tropes for years. In endorsing Trump, albeit in as lukewarm a manner as possible, they provide the thinnest layer of legitimacy to the dog-whistle-turned-megaphone rhetoric of the Republican frontrunner.

“Trump is now an imperfect messenger carrying a vital message,” read the Post‘s editorial. “But he reflects the best of ‘New York values’ — and offers the best hope for all Americans who rightly feel betrayed by the political class.”

Of course, what those New York values actually are remains unknown, even to the editorial board. It could be “challenging the victim culture that has turned into a victimizing culture.” Or it could be Trump’s rhetoric, which was admittedly “amateurish, divisive — and downright coarse.”

The New York Observer also endorsed Trump, just a couple days before the Post. The Observer, owned by Jared Kushner, Donald Trump’s son-in-law, addressed that conflict of interest in the first sentence of their endorsement, writing that “Donald Trump is the father-in-law of the Observer’s publisher. That is not a reason to endorse him.”

The endorsement went on to mention the eternal poster child for Republican voters, Ronald Reagan, to whom Trump and his campaign were compared, despite their obviously opposite takes on, say, Trump’s central issue of immigration. But even the Observer couldn’t deny that Trump was rough around the edges, and admonished Republicans opposed to him to “help him grow as a candidate and a leader.”

Unlike the Post and Observer, whose editorials attempted to present Trump as someone who could behave presidential when the time came, The National Enquirer’s endorsement read like one big pro-Trump Facebook comment. “Trump Must Be Prez!” it blared. “Nobody understands the economy better than this self-made billionaire, and only he is willing and able to fix it.”

The Enquirer also predicted happily that Trump would “chase down illegal immigrants and toss out the criminals who came streaming through our open borders.”

Trump is a good friend of the supermarket tabloid’s owner, David Pecker, who even responded to questions from The Daily Beast about the influence of their friendship in the paper’s endorsement: “There have been few presidential candidates in recent history that have generated the kind of discussion that Donald Trump has,” he said. “It’s no surprise that the readership of the Enquirer recently told us that they wanted to read more about Trump than any other 2016 candidate. The coverage of the Enquirer reflects what its 6 million readers want, and expect, from the publication which has shown no hesitation in presenting an unvarnished look at past or current candidates for president.”

The National Enquirer mostly trades in gossip, but it has managed to cut short the presidential campaigns of Bob Dole, Jesse Jackson and John Edwards, and staff at the paper are reportedly a bit annoyed that they can’t apply the same scrutiny to Trump: who will delve into the juicy “scoop” that he once paid for a woman’s abortion?!

There are around 2.7 million registered Republicans in New York state, the majority of whom are leaning toward Trump. While it was expected that the developer would win his home state, the endorsements awarded by those three newspapers were weak ones. Will that matter for Trump? Probably not: his supporters like him because the media hates him, and aside from these three publications, most of the media does hate Donald Trump. That type of endorsement is much more important.

Photo: Flickr user torbakhopper.