Article from Politico
President Donald Trump and “Morning Joe” co-host Joe Scarborough sparred on Twitter Friday morning over a National Enquirer article, one day after the president was widely condemned by fellow Republicans for crudely tweeting that Mika Brzezinski had a “low I.Q.” and had been “bleeding badly from a face-lift.”
“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,” Trump tweeted.
Trump’s latest missive came after Brzezinski and Scarborough wrote an op-ed in The Washington Post, published Friday morning, in which they said the president “is not mentally equipped to continue watching our show.”
They also addressed the issue of a National Enquirer story, writing, “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.”
The National Enquirer published a piece in early June that referenced Brzezinski and Scarborough’s romantic relationship, alleging that it started inappropriately while both were married to other people. The couple recently went public with their engagement in a Vanity Fair article published in May.
Scarborough quickly fought back on Twitter Friday morning, responding to Trump’s allegations about the National Enquirer article 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.”
He went on to ask, “Why do you keep lying about things that are so easily disproven? What is wrong with you?”
Brzezinski and Scarborough further discussed the National Enquirer article on their show Friday morning, with Scarborough saying they received multiple threats around the publication of the piece.
“We got a call that, ‘Hey, the National Enquirer is going to run a negative story against you guys.’ And it was, you know, ‘Donald is friends with … the guy that runs the National Enquirer.’ 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.
The co-hosts went on to detail how their family members and close friends also received calls pressuring them about the publication of the story.
Dylan Howard, the chief content officer of American Media Inc., publisher of National Enquirer, issued a statement Friday morning denying that the publication engaged in any threats. He also denied any knowledge of conversations between the White House and the “Morning Joe” co-hosts.
“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,” Howard said. “At no time did we threaten either Joe or Mika or their children in connection with our reporting on the story. 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 National Enquirer has long been a booster for the president, and its publisher, David Pecker, has a close relationship with Trump. A recent New Yorker profile laid out Pecker’s allegiances to Trump and how his magazine “embraced Trump with sycophantic fervor.”
In a second statement on Friday, Howard said Pecker has no influence on editorial decisions, despite detailed scenes in the New Yorker profile where Pecker denied his staff’s suggestions to cover first lady Melania Trump swatting away her husband’s hand during a foreign trip — an instance that was not covered by the magazine that normally fills its pages with such little dramas.
“AMI does not comment on rumor and speculation,” Howard said. “While Mr. Pecker is actively engaged in ensuring that The National ENQUIRER has the resources necessary to deliver the strongest possible product at newsstand, editorial decisions are made by the publications editors who are well-attuned to what their readers want.”