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Monday, December 09, 2019 {{ new Date().getDay() }}

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.

White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany

White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany was forced to defend President Donald Trump's recent attacks on MSNBC host Joe Scarborough on Tuesday, an unenviable task she nevertheless intentionally signed up for. She desperately tried to divert the attention back to Scarborough — without engaging in the president's conspiracy theorizing — but offered no credible defense of the president's conduct.

Trump has been spreading the debunked theory that Scarborough killed a staffer in 2001 while he was in Congress, even though it was determined she died of natural causes. The staffer's widower wrote a released a letter on Tuesday pleading with Twitter to take down the president's offensive tweets promoting the thoery. He said he was "angry," "frustrated," and "grieved" by the president's promotion of the harmful allegations. Trump is perverting his late wife's memory, he said, and he fears her niece and nephews will encounter these attacks.When asked about the letter, McEnany said she wasn't sure if the president had seen it. But she said their "hearts" are with the woman's family "at this time." It was a deeply ironic comment because the only particularly traumatizing thing about "this time" for the family is the president's attacks, which come nearly two decades after the woman's death.

McEnany refused to offer any explanation of Trump's comments and instead redirected reporters to a clip of Scarborough on Don Imus's radio show in 2003. In that show, Imus made a tasteless joke obliquely referring to the death, and Scarborough laughed at it briefly.

"Why is the president making these unfounded allegations?" asked ABC News' Jonathan Karl. "I mean, this is pretty nuts, isn't it? The president is accusing someone of possible murder. The family is pleading with the president to please stop unfounded conspiracy theories. Why is he doing it?""The president said this morning, this is not an original Trump thought. And it is not," she said, bringing up the Imus clip. But she made no mention of why the president is bringing up the issue 17 years later and with a much larger platform.

When pressed further on the president's conduct, she again diverted blame to Scarborough, saying his morning show unfairly criticizes the president. But again, she offered no substantive defense of Trump.

After McEnany had moved on, PBS reporter Yamiche Alcindor brought it up again: "Why won't the president give this widower peace and stop tweeting about the conspiracy theory involving his wife?"

McEnany said she had already answered the question, which she hadn't, and said the onus is on Scarborough to explain the Imus clip."The widower is talking specifically about the president!" Alcindor shot back. But McEnany called on Chanel Rion, with the aggressively pro-Trump outlet OAN, who changed the subject to conspiracy theories about the origins of the Russia investigation.

"Are you not going to answer that?" Alcindor called out, still trying to get a substantive response to her question, but Rion spoke over her.

At the end of the briefing, another reporter asked whether Trump was looking for any actual law enforcement steps be taken in response to his conspiracy theory. But McEnany had nothing to add, and simply told people to listen to the Imus clip again. As she hurried out of the briefing room, a reporter asked if Trump would stop promoting the theory — but she left without answering.

Watch the exchange about Klausutis, which begins at 48:45.