Fresh on the heels of Donald Trump reviving his murder insinuations against MSNBC host Joe Scarborough, news has emerged that the president has been unsuccessfully trying to push his friends at the tabloid The National Enquirer to bedazzle the eyes of supermarket shoppers nationwide with his thoroughly debunked conspiracy theory.
According to The Daily Beast, the president tasked his son-in-law Jared Kushner to convince the low-brow newspaper equivalent to a radio shock jock to run with the discredited story that the former Florida congressman had his female aide killed.
Apparently Kushner was not too busy forging a dead-on-arrival Middle East peace plan, distributing government PPE procurement contracts to unqualified providers, and palling around with murderous Saudi crown princes to take on the additional duties.
Trump’s attempts to involve the tabloid in disseminating his phony accusations actually go back to the very beginnings of his presidency when his formerly friendly relationship with Scarborough and his co-host, and now wife, Mika Brzezinski broke down into hostile animosity.
By mid-2017, the president was ready to launch a full bore attack against the couple, The Daily Beast writes:
“According to two people with direct knowledge of the matter, it was right around this time that Trump started asking White House aides if he should tweet about ‘the dead girl’—as one of the people recalled the president phrasing it—to get back at his friend-turned-foe ‘Psycho Joe.’ Multiple advisers cautioned against doing so, arguing it was, at the very least, not worth it. For the most part, the president ended up resisting his initial impulses, though he would briefly and vaguely reference the death in a tweet sent months later in November 2017.”
Meanwhile, out of the view of the public, Kushner was in contact with The Enquirer‘s publisher Amerian Media to get their reporters on the story, pronto.
“’Trump through Kushner was begging [Enquirer publisher David] Pecker to do something about Scarborough [and Klausutis’ death],’ a person with direct knowledge of the situation told The Daily Beast. ‘The Enquirer started working on a story at their behest.’”
As astonished as you may be that The National Enquirer actually employs real journalists who fact check their stories before publication, some of those very reporters looked into the vague rumors that the Trump camp had provided and found that there was no “there” there to risk the liability of libel lawsuits.
“But even the supermarket tabloid could not establish any truth to the smear. Despite weeks of investigation into the matter in 2017 to try and confirm a link between the woman’s death and Scarborough, the people with knowledge of the matter said reporters were ultimately unsuccessful in finding even threadbare proof to run a story,” The Daily Beast writes.
“’I remember we were looking into it and the story didn’t materialize,’ said a person who worked at American Media Inc. (the Enquirer’s publisher) at the time. ‘We reached out to experts and they dismissed theories that she’d met with foul play or Joe had anything to do with her death. We reached out to her family. The story never went anywhere.’”
That American Media and The Enquirer were enmeshed in the scandal surrounding funneling a $150,000 hush-money payment to Trump’s Playboy model mistress Karen McDougal likely didn’t help convince the publisher to join in the libelous fun.
Despite the fact that Kushner and Trump were unsuccessful in their efforts to enlist The National Enquirer to their sordid smear campaign, the news of that failure puts Fox News‘ constant promotion of the unjust and painful allegations on its airwaves into perspective.
If you thought that no institution could possibly have lower journalistic standards than The National Enquirer, then Fox News has proven you wrong.
If the comparison between the two “news” organizations were an SAT question, it might be phrased like this:
Fox News is to The National Enquirer as Donald Trump is to:
A. P. T. Barnum
B. Benito Mussolini
C. Richard Nixon
D. George W. Bush
E. All of the above
No matter what answer you pick, you’ll be more correct than any statement uttered by Donald Trump during his term to date.
Original reporting by Asawin Suebsaeng, Lloyd Grove, and Maxwell Tani at The Daily Beast.
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Vinnie Longobardo is a 35-year veteran of the TV, mobile & internet industries, specializing in start-ups and the international media business. His passions are politics, music and art.