On MSNBC on Friday morning, Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski alleged that the Trump administration asked them to tone down their coverage of President Trump – and in return, offered to kill a story in the National Enquirer set to run on them. Scarborough teased the story in a piece in The Washington Post on Friday morning:
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 told the more complete version of the story on the air:
I think we have to talk about it now because it explains the relationship and his really strange obsession with this show, and in particular, his really disturbing obsession with Mika. We got a call that hey, the National Enquirer is going to run a negative story against you guys, and Donald, the President is friends with the guy who runs the National Enquirer. And they said, “If you call the president up and apologize for your coverage, then he will pick up the phone and basically spike this story.” I will just say I had three people at the very top of the administration calling me. The response was like, “Are you kidding me? I don’t know what they have. Run a story? I’m not going to do it.” The calls kept coming and kept coming, and they were like, “Call, you need to call, please call, come on Joe, please just pick up the phone and call him.”
Brzezinski then said that the National Enquirer called her children and close friends and was attempting to target her ex-husband. She said:
These calls persisted for quite some time, and then Joe had the conversations that he had with the White House, where they said, “Oh, this could go away.”
Scarborough stated that there were people from the National Enquirer staking out Mika’s house; soon after, Scarborough alleged, the White House began calling.
This isn’t implausible, given Trump’s relationship with the National Enquirer – he said last year they should win a Pulitzer, and while denying any sort of editorial influence, also lent credibility to the Enquirer’s ridiculous hit pieces on Senator Ted Cruz’s father, which suggested that Rafael Cruz was involved with the JFK assassination.
So, here’s the question.
Why the hell didn’t Mika and Joe reveal this situation when it happened? It would seem rather newsworthy that the White House itself was threatening to use a media outlet as a propaganda tool as a club in order to influence news coverage. Why didn’t Joe and Mika say anything? We’ve been hearing for months that Trump threatens press freedom. This is an open threat against press freedom.
There are a couple of answers: maybe Scarborough and Brzezinski wanted to maintain a relationship with the White House; perhaps they thought that if they swept all of this under the rug, all would be well. But it does demonstrate that the media’s talk about wanting to hold Trump accountable is nonsense. It’s a ratings game. And it will remain a ratings game.